Susan Wilson

Book Group Discussion Questions for
A Man of His Own

 
1) Reflect on the structure of the novel. How do the different points of view shape our understanding and reaction to different events in the novel? How does the structure provide a complex picture while also building tension? How would the story have been different if it had been told from only one point of view?

2) What was your reaction to the sections of the story told from Pax’s point of view? Did you learn anything surprising from them that you had not expected?

3) Through both Francesca and Rick we see the mindset—both of each of them individually and of society as a whole during World War II—that lead them to volunteer Pax for the Dogs for Defense Program. Why did they do it? What was it that lead Fran to send Rick the advertisement, and why did Rick write her back telling her to do it? What was your reaction? What would you have done if you were in their positions?

4) Compare and contrast the bonds that Pax has with Rick, his leader at home, and Keller, his leader in the war. Explain why this results in confusion when they are all together. How does Pax cope with and respond to living with both of them?

5) How does the information that Keller learns about Clayton’s marriage and the death of his wife give him insight into not only Clayton’s personality but also the situation that he himself is in with Francesca and Rick?

6) Throughout the story we watch as four characters in close proximity adjust to each other. Their relationships are dynamic, constantly changing and morphing as they figure out their roles and positions and feelings. What are the moments that stand out to you as definitive shifts in the relationships between: Keller and Francesca? Rick and Keller? Pax and each of the three humans he lives with?

7) When Francesca and Keller meet on the stairs in the middle of the night we see them begin to confront their feelings for each other. How might things have played out differently had Keller gone down to have cocoa with Francesca that night instead of going back to his room?

8) As readers we watch as Rick contemplates suicide over the course of the novel and then eventually attempts it. When he first brought up his plan, what did you think would happen? Did your predictions change as the story went on?

9) There is a lot of build up to the kiss that Keller and Francesca share. Were you surprised by what happened in its aftermath, or did you see it coming?

10) What was your reaction to the scene in which Lila visits Keller? Did you think the story might end in a different way? Were you satisfied with the way each of the characters’ lives played out?

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