Reading guide for Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

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Then We Came to the End

A Novel

by Joshua Ferris

Then We Came to the End
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 400 pages
    Feb 2008, 416 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Although Then We Came to the End is told predominantly in the first person plural, there is a brief departure to describe Lynn Mason's last night before she undergoes surgery. Why do you think the author chose this point in the novel for the shift in perspective?
  2. What was the most humorous moment in the novel for you? Does the author's incarnation of the office remind you in any way of your own work environment?
  3. Then We Came to the End features a large and diverse cast of characters. Which character is your favorite? Which do you find least likable? Does any character closely resemble a person with whom you work?
  4. On page 57 the author writes: "Yet for all the depression no one ever quit." Did you find other seemingly contradictory passages in the novel? If so, why do you think the work environment lends itself to such contradictions?
  5. The novel contains insights into many aspects of office life, but can you think of any office situations not included that you wanted to see the author address?
  6. Near the beginning of the novel Marcia Dwyer accidentally sends an e-mail intended for Genevieve Latko-Devine to the entire office. Have you or anyone you know ever experienced a similarly embarrassing situation in the office? If so, how was it handled?
  7. The author presents the office as an environment without secrets, writing of Old Brizz: "He knew it because he was one of us, and we knew everything" (page 4). Do you agree with this statement? If so, why does this dynamic exist in offices?
  8. Then We Came to the End is a novel that depicts many lighthearted moments and many dire situations as well. Did you find that one, either the whimsical or the grave, outweighed the other?
  9. In a conversation between Lynn Mason and her boyfriend, Martin, Lynn thinks that "technology would never advance past primal fear. It would never trump human instinct" (page 213). Aside from Lynn's observation, how does the novel view technology as it relates to social interaction at the office?
  10.  Ultimately, what do you think is the overall tone of the novel? Do you think this is the tone the author intended?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books. 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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