Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
One spring afternoon, a young neo-Nazi named Vincent Nolan walks into the
Manhattan office of World Brotherhood Watch, a human rights foundation headed by
a charismatic Holocaust survivor, Meyer Maslow. Vincent announces that he wants
to make a radical change in his life. But what is Maslow to make of this rough
looking stranger who claims to have read Maslow's books, who has Waffen SS
tattoos under his shirtsleeves, and who says that his mission is to save guys
like him from becoming guys like him?
As Vincent gradually turns into the sort of person who might actually be able
to achieve his objective, he succeeds in transforming those around him: Maslow,
who fears that heroism has become a desk job; Bonnie Kalen, the foundation's
fundraiser, a divorced single mother and a devoted believer in Maslow's crusade
against intolerance and injustice; and Bonnie's teenage son, Danny, whose take
on the world around him is at once open-hearted, sharp-eyed, and as
fundamentally decent as his mother's.
Masterfully plotted and darkly comic, A Changed Man
everyday transactions in our lives, exposing what remains invisible in plain
sight in our drug-addled and media-driven culture. A Changed Man
the essential questions: What constitutes a life worth living? Is it possible to
change? What does it mean to be a moral human being? The fearless intelligence,
wit, and humanity that inform this novel make it Francine Prose's most
Questions for Discussion
- At the start of A Changed Man, we see Vincent Nolan, warts and all,
during his impromptu interview at World Brotherhood Watch. Who is Vincent
Nolan? What were your initial impressions of his character, and how did
those impressions change over the course of the novel?
- How does Meyer Maslow's experience as a Holocaust survivor color his
day-to-day outlook as leader of a human rights organization? What makes him
tick? What are some essential contradictions in his personality?
- Discuss Bonnie Kalen's attitudes toward the men in her life -- her
ex-husband, Joel; her sons, Danny and Max; her new house guest, Vincent
Nolan; and her saintly boss, Meyer Maslow. To what extent does Bonnie define
herself in terms of these relationships?
- How does World Brotherhood Watch use Vincent Nolan to its advantage? How
does Vincent transition from neo-Nazi skinhead to national celebrity?
- Describe Bonnie Kalen's relationship with her sons, Danny and Max. What
happens to that relationship when Vincent Nolan enters their lives? Does
Nolan serve as a father-figure for the boys, or is his role in the family
- How would you characterize Vincent's reunion with his cousin, Raymond, on
the television program, Chandler? What were your impressions of this
development? What did you think of Danny Kalen and Meyer Maslow's
- Would you describe Danny and Max Kalen as typical adolescents and
siblings? How prominently does their parents' divorce factor into their
lives? How does each one cope with the challenges of teenage adulthood?
- How does faith factor into the choices and decisions made by Meyer Maslow,
Bonnie Kalen, and Vincent Nolan? Is faith necessary for true change?
- By the end of A Changed Man, Vincent's future is uncertain. Do you
see any hope of a relationship for Bonnie and Vincent? What were your
thoughts at the novel's close?
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.