Carol Shields Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In many of Carol Shields’s works, the reader must become an investigator or biographer who tries to uncover the life of another person. How does Shields use artifacts such as lists, letters, and conversations as clues to learn more about Daisy Goodhill Flett in The Stone Diaries?

Two of Shields’s works, The Stone Diaries and Larry’s Party, present the lives of Daisy Goodwill Flett and Larry Weller, respectively. In what ways does the gender of the two main characters alter the ways Shields structures and develops the themes of the novels?

In Unless, Shields explores gaps in understanding, particularly within families. Discuss the trajectory of Reta Winters’s quest to understand her daughter, Norah.

Shields is a poet, biographer, novelist, short-story writer, literary critic, and dramatist, yet one could argue that elements of each of these genres appear in her longer works. Show how Shields’s expertise in a number of forms manifests itself in longer works such as Unless.

Many of Shields’s characters find fulfillment by persevering. How does this perseverance contribute to the growth of Jack and Brenda Bowman’s marriage in Happenstance?