Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 302
1. The author, Richard Peck, has stated that he creates his protagonists to be "young surrogates for the readers." How successful is Matt Moran as such a surrogate? Is he believable and easily identified with? What techniques of writing does Peck employ to make Matt realistic and sympathetic?
2. Many of the characters in Close Enough to Touch appear as caricatures, often as comical figures with one or only a few exaggerated traits. Which characters qualify as caricatures, and what sort of traits do Matt's descriptions focus on to achieve this comic quality?
3. Many of Matt's comments on his world reveal him as a critic—a critic of education, of his fellow students, of modern suburbs, of upper-middle-class behavior. What specific things does Matt isolate for critical commentary? What is it that he finds wrong with his world?
4. Compare Peck's novel to some other novel that deals with the problem of adjusting to the death of a loved one. Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terebithia (1977) and James Agee's A Death in the Family (1957) could be possibilities.
5. Discuss the importance of the cottage at Juniper Lake in Matt's development. What are his feelings about it? How do the events that take place there help Matt's development and give structured unity to his narrative?
6. Discuss the way Matt's drinking spree is presented in Chapter 6. How do you feel about the comic tone with which this incident is narrated? Is Peck right to deal with Matt's encounter with alcohol in this humorous way?
7. In Chapter 8 when Matt first meets Margaret, why might it be meaningful to the structure of Matt's development that Matt first thinks Margaret may be a ghost and then thinks "she's as dead as . . . Dory?" Is Peck using any symbolism here? Can you find other places in the novel where he might be using symbolism?
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