Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
In his quest to be antimaterialistic, Josh has just seventy-five
possessions, including shirts, shoes, keys, books, CDs, and underwear. If you
had to limit the things you own to seventy-five items, what would they be?
Josh states, I've only wanted one thing in my lifeto contribute, to help
make the world a better place . . . not with technology, but with ideas. Is
Josh true to his vision?
Is the way Josh/Larry manipulates his followers any different from the way
the media, big business, or politicians manipulate the public?
Josh steals confidential documents from Peters briefcase in order to
attack the companies his stepfather represents. Is he right to do this? Does the
end justify the means?
Paint a picture of Joshs character. Why is it that he has only one
friend? Discuss his relationship with Beth. Do you think he would have created
the Larry Web site if he had told Beth how he felt about her?
Discuss the ethics of spouting views on the Internet, or in any medium,
under a false identity. Betagold claims that Larry is a coward for keeping his
identity a secret. Do you agree? Or is Larry right to think that revealing who
he is would detract from his message?
Discuss Joshs motivation for creating the Larry Web site. Is he being
honest or is he just playing a game? He is disturbed by the magnitude of the
response to his Web site and by the hero he becomes, but he does not close down
the web site. Why?
Josh is disillusioned by the reaction of the public once his identity is
known. No one seems to be interested in his messagepeople are interested only
in him as a celebrity. The producer of 20/20 tells him, They want to
know about you. Youre the story, just you. People want gossip; people want
sizzle. What does this tell you about how the media views the public? What
happens when the sizzle fizzles?
Josh says that we feast on celebrities, caring for people who have no idea
who we are. How do you feel about this? Should we care about the private lives
of our favorite rock stars? If you were a celebrity, how would you handle fame?
No offense, Josh, but this idealism thing is a phase, like so many other
things youve been through. . . . You dont have enough life experience. You
dont know how the real world works yet. How much of what Peter says to Josh is
true, or is it as Josh responds, Adults always say that to keep kids quiet?
Some of Joshs actions might be considered unethical. Do you think
anything Josh does is immoral? Is the writing of his story the solution for
Josh, or is it just another way to avoid taking responsibility? How will Josh
find peace? Is he on the right path?
Joshs/Larrys sermons rail against exploitation of third-world
countries, celebrity worship, and the way big business manipulates our lives, to
name a few issues. What are the things about society that you and your friends
hope to change?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Dell Laurel Leaf Books For Young Readers.
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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