Committed (Gilbert)

Discussion Questions 
1. Gilbert, who has been through a divorce, calls herself a skeptic about marriage. Do you think a certain amount of skepticism about the institution is healthy or is it unromantic?

2. Why do Gilbert and Felipe react so strongly to the Homeland Security officer’s suggestion that they tie the knot?

3. When encountering the Hmong people, Gilbert is taken by their cultural belief that men and women are “mostly the same, most of the time.” What does this say about their ideas and expectations about marriage, and how does that contrast with Gilbert’s?

4. Gilbert weaves in cultural and religious history and a bit of on-the-spot anthropological research with her own personal story. What did these lessons from the past and other cultures teach her, as a potential bride, and what did they teach you, as the reader?

5. Gilbert discusses a few factors that contribute to a marriage’s success or failure, and she analyzes her relationship with Felipe in this context. What other factors might predict the outcome of a marriage?

6. Committed examines the ways marriage has been politicized and controlled by laws, reflecting the way its socially imposed meaning and purpose has changed over time. What role does marriage play in our current society?

7. Pointing out that the very word “matrimony” implies that a couple will bear children, Gilbert explores some of the expectations women face when they get married. How have these issues changed over time, and which ones, in your experience, remain problematic?

8. Gilbert compares marriages for practical reasons versus marriages for love and notes that divorce rates rise in societies where people marry for love. Why does this happen, and do you think people in our society should consider marrying for practical reasons?

9. After months of traveling together in exile, Gilbert and Felipe reach a kind of crisis point on a twelve-hour bus ride through Laos. What do they learn about each other in this moment?

10. Gilbert examines two basic worldviews that might be applied to marriage—Greek and Hebrew. Which one describes your beliefs?

11. What does Gilbert ultimately conclude about what marriage means to her? Do you find this conclusion satisfying?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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