Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
What does Animal mean when he says he "used to be human once"? What does
being human mean to Animal? What does Animal believe it would take for him
to "become human" again? Does Animal get his wish?
Who is Khã-in-the-Jar and what does he want from Animal? What do Khã-in-the-Jar
and the others like him represent for Animal? How are readers to understand
and make sense of Khã-in-the-Jar?
What is the significance of names in the story? How do the names of
individuals and things both suggest and obscure their meaning or value? What
is the significance of the book's title, Animal's People?
As outsiders, both Zafar and Elli attempt to help the people of Khaufpur.
Compare and contrast their approaches. What are the costs and benefits of
each? With whom did you find yourself most sympathetic? Why?
What does Animal mean when he says that time does not exist for the
poor? Why must all things be "now o'clock"?
Who or what is Kampani? What do Zafar's dream and Elli's confessions
reveal about Kampani?
Animal, Ma Franci, and Zafar conceive of "that night" and its
repercussions in unique and specific ways. Detail how each understands and
makes sense of the events of "that night" and why the disaster occurred. How
does each believe "that night" should be resolved for the people of Khaufpur?
With whom do you find yourself in most agreement? Why?
What happened during the night of the factory fire? What is the
significance of the mysterious woman clad in burqa with a broom? What parts
did Animal, Ma Franci, and others play in that fateful event? What did the
fire mean for the community, for Animal? What role will it play for them in
To what does Elli, Animal, and Somraj's discussion of music and its
relationship to promises refer? What do the music and promises metaphors
tell us? What do they tell Animal? Do these metaphors continue to resonate
for Animal at the end of his tale? Why or why not?
Animal's People has been described as a book that "has its roots
in unspeakable tragedy, but manages to stay upbeat, darkly funny, and
utterly devoid of self-pity." Do you agree with this statement? Discuss some
of the key elements of the story that validate/invalidate this claim.
Why do you believe the author has crafted such a website?
Has the website altered your understanding or appreciation of the novel?
If yes, how so? If no, why not?
What questions would you pose to Animal? How do you believe he would respond to
If you could be like Elli and offer a service that would be advertised on this
site, what would you offer to the city of Khaufpur? Provide a sample of
your Ad for the group.
Print a copy of the tribute and distribute it to members of the book club. You
may wish to discuss the following with the group:
a. What are the parallels that exist between Sunil and Animal's story?
b. Does Sunil's end impact your appreciation of Sinha's telling of the story?
The tribute sheet has a donation form attached. Encourage book club members to
collect and bring donations to the meeting and complete one donation form in the
name of the book club and send in all donations in the name of the book club.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Simon & Schuster.
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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