Say Nothing (Keefe) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for SAY NOTHING ... then take off on your own:

1. A saying at the time of the Troubles went, “If you’re not confused, you don’t know what’s going on." The times were certainly confusing: for those on the outside of the conflict, let alone those on the inside. Does Patrick Radden Okeefe clear up the confusion for his readers—for you? In what way has reading Say Nothing increased your understanding of Northern Ireland's decades-long (many say centuries-long) struggle?

2. Keefe has zeroed in on the murder of Jean McConville. Given the level of brutality and carnage that took place for so long, why might the author have used that particular episode as the opening of his book?

3. In what way would you describe (as some reviewers have) Say Nothing as a murder mystery?

4. Which individuals—in this book of real life people—do you feel more sympathy for than others? What about those individuals whose actions disturbed you? Despite all the carnage, are you able to find any humanity in those who committed acts of violence? Does it matter that they acted in service to a cause, one they believed in passionately?

5. Follow-up to Question 4: Dolours Price and others feel that the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement took away any justification for the bombings and abductions she had participated in. How would you answer her?

6. What is the significance of the book's title, "Say Nothing." What are the ways that phrase resonates throughout the book?

7. Since the peace accord, a "collective denial" has washed over the Belfast society. Is this obfuscation, a hiding of sorts, beneficial? Has it lead to a genuine, settled peace? Would an open reconciliation, through confession and forgiveness, work? What are the varying points of view, including yours?
(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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