Sheila rides a bike nearly everywhere she goes while living in Iowa. Why? Discuss howthe bike does or does not fit in with
Sheila’s hometown and lifestyle
. What other symbols
appear in the novel to underscore Sheila’s inability (or
unwillingness) to fit in?6.
Throughout the novel are illustrations of how we form preconceived notions and pass judgment while knowing very little about a person or situation. For example, Sheiladescribes how the women customers at the gas station treat her differently when they believe she is a student on her way to study in Paris. Identify other examples of characters who make such judgments and discuss what the author may be saying throughthese.7.
On page 41, when Sheila tells Peter Parker that she thinks his ID is a fake, he counters by
saying, “You’re a fake.”
What do you think he means? Do you agree or disagree?Explain your opinion using examples from the novel.8.
Soon thereafter, Sheila has a maudlin moment in which
, she says, “she was sorry for everything.”
For what, exactly, is she sorry? What triggers this regret and sorrow? At theend of the book, do you think Sheila is more or less sorry than she is at this moment on page 42?9.
Ms. Lawrence tells Sheila
“sometimes our expectations of a t
hing create a kind of unreality
” (p. 50
). What does she mean by this? Discuss how this idea relates to the
following scene, in which Peter first calls Sheila “Gwen” and they stage her
abduction. How else does this concept apply to the events of the novel?10.
Sheila and Peter both have a tendency to compartmentalize parts of their lives. How doesthis express itself in the novel? What makes up the different parts and what makes themso disparate?11.
s dreamed about moving to Paris for so long, what thrills Sheila aboutChicago? Describe how she begins to take control of her life there, ironically under theleast stable of circumstances. When does Sheila realize she is never going to Paris? Howdoes she feel about this realization?12.
On page 101, Sheila tells herself, “It was all a matter of dec
iding how to interpret
information.” How does she decide to interpret Peter’s confession about his reasons for
taking her with him to Chicago? Identify some other moments that present themselves for our protagonists to interpret. What do you think of their interpretations?13.
Something shifts for Sheila and Peter the night they go walking by the foundry. What andwhy? What line does Peter fear they have crossed? What finally prompts Peter to take
himself to task for their game and for calling Sheila “G
Peter first decides to invite Sheila to run away with him because he saw them driving off together in a dream. What other dreams does Peter have that come true? Were youconvinced that his dreams were in fact portents? Why or why not? Given his family