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DISCUSSION GUIDE
Northwest Corner

Northwest Corner
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  1. What does the act of violence at the beginning of Northwest Corner tell us about the character of Sam?

  2. How would you describe Dwight's relationship with both his crime and his punishment?

  3. What sort of mother would you say Ruth has been to Sam?

  4. By the end of the novel, how would you describe Ruth's feelings for Dwight?

  5. Dwight's feelings for Ruth? For Penny?

  6. Sam's feelings for his father?

  7. Penny's feelings for Dwight?

  8. How would you describe the role that memory plays in the lives of Northwest Corner's main characters? In what sense is the role negative, and in what sense positive?

  9. At one point, remembering a meal with her separated parents, Emma Learner remarks, "This is what it is like to know you are not forgiven." Who do you think she's talking about? Forgiven for what? Based on Northwest Corner, do you believe that forgiveness is possible between Emma and her mother? Between Sam and Dwight? Between Ruth and Dwight?

  10. If you were to try to envision the future of the relationships between the five major characters in the novel, how would you imagine them?

  11. How would you say the novel's particular structure—the narrative continuously interwoven among five different points of view—affects the reader's ultimate perceptions of the story and its meanings?

  12. Has reading Northwest Corner changed your sense of what family is or can be?


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