Ideas for Group Discussions

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 386

Beyond the obvious context of literary portrayals of the law, an expansive context in which to discuss The Client is American portrayals of adolescents. Twain's Huck Finn, Salinger's Holden Caulfield (from Catcher in the Rye [1951]), and other characters provide comparisons that may provide insights into Grisham's characterizations. A focus on adolescents often points to a critique of adult society (as in Mark Twain and Salinger), and readers could discuss how Mark's experiences serve as social criticism. This sort of discussion alerts readers how Grisham does more than write a thrilling story. Certainly the justice of the legal proceedings that Grisham describes and the ways the authorities treat innocent individuals merit consideration in any discussion of the novel. As a frequent topic in reviews of Grisham's work is his portrayal of women, readers could linger in discussing Reggie Love. She fits 1990s guidelines for political correctness, yet Grisham gives her a very particularized personal history. Does she emerge from the book as a real character, even as she is a savior and a role model?

1. How would you describe Mark's morality? What do his early advice to his brother, his decision not to leave the hose in Clifford's tailpipe, then his refusal to tell what he knows reveal about his internalized standards?

2. How do Mark's background and family situation explain his personality and his morality?

3. How is Mark like or unlike other American literary adolescents? Consider Huckleberry Finn in particular.

4. How fairly does the system treat Mark? Mark complains to Reggie about the illogic and unfairness of the system. Are his complaints justified, naive, self-serving? What does Grisham suggest about how police treat young witnesses? about how the juvenile justice system treats its charges?

5. How do you evaluate Harry Roosevelt? He is a striking mix of self-righteousness, imperiousness, and commitment to do good.

6. Why does Reggie take on such a frustrating and painful law practice? What drives her to continue? Why can she and Mark bond so quickly?

7. Can you justify the actions of Foltrigg and the other prosecutors? Why are they willing to be so brutal toward Mark and Reggie?

8. In portraying the uneasy relations of the prosecutors from New Orleans and Memphis, and in showing Roosevelt's tyranny in his courtroom, what comments is Grisham making about business relationships, lines of authority, and the legal profession?

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