Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Donald Barthelme’s father’s architectural achievements strongly influenced him. What features of the son’s literary work might be considered analogous to architectural ones?

Assess the suitability of several of Barthelme’s short story titles.

Plot and character are not particularly important to Barthelme. How does this fact relate to his concentration on the short story form rather than on the novel?

What other characteristics of Barthelme’s philosophy of literary composition suit his predilection for the short story?

Judging from the story “The Educational Experience,” what has gone wrong with the study of history? Does the story contain suggestions as to how it might be better taught?

The tale of Snow White has often been ridiculed and parodied. What elements of this fairy tale does Barthelme appear to take most seriously?

What are some of the targets in Barthelme’s attack on modern culture?