Reading guide for The Whore's Child by Richard Russo

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The Whore's Child

By Richard Russo

The Whore's Child

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Such delicacy and compassion, or is she a very special case? What do the younger students' comments reveal about them?

  2. The act of telling or writing one's story is usually thought of as therapeutic. What is the cost of Sister Ursula's compulsion to write her story? Given what she learns in the process, how do you imagine she will respond to this new knowledge?

  3. The critic Diane Roberts noted, "Russo is a master of the small moment as nuclear explosion, the life-changing turn of the screw" (Houston Chronicle). In which stories are such moments of insight particularly powerful?

  4. In several of these stories, husbands and wives are seriously at odds, and children are caught between feuding parents, or parents have to intervene for troubled children. Is Russo's view of family life—or married life—particularly bleak, or scrupulously realistic?

  5. What is the effect of the collection as a whole, given the order, pacing, and content of the stories? What view of life does it project?

  6. What do the two stories told from a child's perspective have in common? How does Russo show himself to be a compassionate observer of children's troubles?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Vintage. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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