Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Girl in a Cage book club questions

Book club was at our house today. Dancer chose "Girl in a Cage" by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris. We had read it last year but it is so good that she pulled it out again to share with friends. Here are the questions we discussed.

1. This book flip flops between her past and her present time. Do you like that style of writing? Pros? Cons? Why might the authors have chosen that style for this book?

2. Isabel comes to crown Robert Bruce because that would have been the job of her family? She is married to a n enemy of Scotland. Should she have been true? She was married off for some land, is she obligated to be loyal to her husband's family?

3. Do you remember any reference to other people being in cages in the book?

- safe in the cage of her father's arms

-Isabel in a cage of marriage

-Longshanks in a cage of his own rotting flesh

-Longshanks - a cage of asking and having to fight not being able to die peacefully in his own bed

-Robert Bruce - Scotland was, according to Longshanks, not his kingdom but a cage. Scotland is surrounded by water on three sides and Longshanks on the 4th.

4. What cages do we live in? Do they protect us or restrict us?

5. Compare Longshanks to Robert Bruce. Who was worse? Better?

6. Compare Elizabeth and Isabel.

7. Marjorie thought Isabel was fabulous. Was she? How was Isabel dangerous? Was Isabel dangerous?

8. Why do you think Longshanks comes to see Marjorie so often? Does she fight back against him? Is it effective?

9. Day 3. When she is waiting for the peasants to come and see her she says "Well, let them come. I shall ignore them. They are low, common and English, not worthy of my attention. Dear Lord let me ignore them. Or let one of them speak to me."

-It can't be both ways. What are the costs of both? Which would you want?

10. Page 134. Acts of Charity - there were 7. One was feeding the poor and one to give drink to the thirsty. At day 15 Longshanks decides to starve her. On day 20 the monks come to feed her and give her drink. Was this too long for action? If it had not rained or snowed during this time she would have died before they came.

11. Marjorie said once to a monk, "Can someone order you to break God's commands?" "Can even King Edward order you to go against God's will?" At what point should we step in to help someone?

12. Who are the heros in this book? Brother Quintus, Elizabeth, The Abbot, The kids from town - Enid and her brothers?

13. Marjorie says she will die serving Scotland but Longshanks will die serving only himself. Is there any difference between their deaths?

14. Was Robert Bruce serving Scotland or himself? What price was he willing to pay for the throne?

15. Three girls come by to see if she is really a princess. She sings the song

Come pretty girl, tell me true

Am I as thin and dirty as you?

Am I.

She says "Put a princess in a cage, I think, and in mere days she is like a peasant: dirty, hungry, horrible. Put a peasant on a throne....but my mind will not go there.

What was she realizing in this passage and song?

16. What are some lessons Marjorie learned from her stepmother?

These questions took us about an hour and a half to go through. Then we had pecan pie and blackberry cobbler for a snack. I had hoped to make baked oatmeal to represent the gruel she was given in the cage but didn't have enough butter so that was nixed. Dancer and I decided that the pie and cobbler would tie into the story with the last huge meal they were served at a castle they stayed at before their capture.

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