For reading The Afterlife by Gary Soto as a group, what are some study guide or discussion questions that could be developed?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The Afterlife is a supernatural and metaphysical look at the other side of death through the lens of a teen boy, Jesús, but called Chury, who dies as the result of random, senseless violence in Los Angeles while waiting for a date at the Club Estrella. The novel then follows Chury into his ghost state in which the wind tosses him about and in which he begins immediately to fade as it 'wavered like smoke." After spending time following Chury as he explores and absorbs the reality on the noncorporeal plane (the reality of a ghost), he meets a female ghost who committed suicide and they fall in love, then pursue the afterlife together.

One area for group discussion questions that touches on both authorial style and symbolism relevant to the meaning of the story, is the narrative's relation to Latin American magic realism.

You might ask: What elements reflect magic realism? What do the elements of magic realism symbolize? What is the significance to theme, structure, or novel stylistics of the elements of magic realism?

You might also ask about the metaphysical elements of the novel: Is Soto presenting a metaphysical philosophy about the nature of human existence (corporeal and noncorporeal) and, if so, what is the metaphysical philosophy?

But where was my anger now? Maybe in death all that goes. And fear, too. ... But the night wind that flaps laundry and trees had vanished. ... the police had come and gone ... Wind could boss me around ... I traveled where the slightest wind blew.

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