Ideas for Group Discussions

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Beach Music is the lengthiest Conroy novel yet, containing an expanding cast of characters and mythological-type tales featuring each. Readers might be interested to know that Conroy's manuscript he presented to his editor was almost twice as long as the novel in its final form. This novel offers many of the Conroy themes readers have come to expect, with the addition of the Holocaust and the Vietnam War as specific causes of atrocities by man against man. The author's inclusion of narrative focused upon the present, in addition to that focused upon the past through flashbacks, will offer all ages of readers subjects with which they are familiar. One way to approach discussion would be to separate readers into groups made up of individuals possessing a "first hand" familiarity with the various eras, i.e. World War II, the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Vietnam era, the years bearing the effects of the Vietnam War, and modern times.

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1. What is the significance of Lucy's particular type of cancer as related to the ongoing theme of family betrayal found in Conroy's novels? Why do the brothers laugh when they discover the type of illness Lucy has?

2. Does religion act as a character in the novel, or is the prominence of religion a symbolic device, keeping the reader aware of an ongoing battle with faith versus the tangible?

3. How do animal protectors in Conroy's novels enlarge the humanity of the characters? What are the differences between the animals in Beach Music and those seen in Prince of Tides?

4. How successful or unsuccessful is Conroy's comparison of the Holocaust to the turmoil in America over Vietnam?

5. What is the significance, if any, of the growing family sizes seen in Conroy's novels when examined chronologically? Does this relate to the...

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