Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- How have the social pressures of each of their eras formed the characters of each of the three female generations in Gloria's family Gloria, her mother and grandmother?
- Discuss the prominence and acceptance of alcohol in the 1950s and how it affects each of the characters.
- Discuss female friendship, love and adoration (or lack of) in Gloria's life.
- Discuss Bill Dougherty as Ted Cotter's "shadow." Why does Gloria get involved with Billy Dougherty? What is her dilemma? Comment on Gloria's character, Billy's character and social/class pressures: e.g. politeness, paternalism, honor, independence, etc.
- Are any of the characters Jewish, Catholic or AfricanAmerican? If not, why not? Comment on the insulation and isolation imposed by the class system of the times, particularly the "new money" country club set. Comment on how this insulation/isolation has and has not changed in the 90s.
- Discuss the positive and negative qualities of the Greek Letter Society system in the 50s. How do sororities/fraternities reflect the larger social picture? A reviewer has compared Gloria's sorority initiation to cult brainwashing. Discuss.
- What are the social pressures and cultural dictates experienced by young women of the 1950s? And how do they both constrain and guide? How do these societal and peer rules compare to those of today (expressed and implied)?
- What role do religious values play in the book?
- What is the significance of Gloria's dreams and how do they reflect her emerging identity? What do the dreams say about Gloria, that she herself in her analytical way, has not figured out?
- What will become of Gloria when the book ends? How will she react to the 60s and 70s?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.