Reading guide for Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

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Ghost Wall

A Novel

by Sarah Moss

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss X
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2019, 144 pages

    Paperback:
    Dec 2019, 144 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. How would you describe the dynamic in Silvie's family when the novel opens? How about Silvie's attitude specifically? In what ways does your view of this family evolve as the novel progresses? Are there particular points in the story that shift these views?
  2. In what ways do you see contemporary views of culture and behavior exhibited during the re-enactment? Identify a few examples.
  3. Silvie sneaks out early in the morning to relieve herself and remarks, "without a house, it occurred to me, it is much harder to restrict a person's movement. Harder for a man to restrain a woman." In what ways do you see this notion play out in the novel? How do you see Silvie's premise contradicted?
  4. When Silvie asks Molly why she's not taking the re-enactment experience, "seriously," Mollie notes, "I just think a lot it's boys playing in the woods. Your dad and Jim, have you noticed, they're not much interested in the foraging and cooking, they just want to kill things and talk about fighting, why would I take it seriously?" In turn, Silvie's gut reaction is, "because they are in charge... because there will be consequences if you don't." How would you describe the differences in how Mollie and Silvie perceive the power dynamics in the group?" How do you think Dan and Pete may perceive this dynamic?
  5. In what ways does Molly challenge the status quo? How do the other characters react to her attempts to disrupt their sense of "normalcy?"
  6. Describe your interpretation of Mom. In what ways is she a victim of her circumstances? Are there ways in which she is complicit in the abuse enacted by Silvie's dad?
  7. The bog serves as both a destructive force and preserver of what people most care for and revere. Spend some time unpacking this image of "the bog." Why do you think it plays such a central role in the novel? How does it interplay with the notion of time? How about hierarchy?
  8. Identify 2-3 instances of when characters project customs or beliefs onto the past. In what ways does this practice deflect or justify what's happening in the present?
  9. How do class dynamics play into the interactions among the characters? How might you extrapolate these tensions to the present day?
  10. How do you interpret the refrain, "people don't hurt what they don't love." In what ways is this phrase twisted or abused throughout Ghost Wall?
  11. How do you think you would respond if you were in Silvie's situation when her dad and the Prof present the idea of simulating a sacrifice?
  12. Discuss the portrayal of gender roles in the novel. In what ways do class distinctions and opportunity interact with gender in the story?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Picador. 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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