Ideas for Group Discussions
Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 307
While an obvious context for discussing the novel is fiction about the law, a less obvious but equally interesting context is the treatment of success in American literature. In his life through law school, Mitch could be a classic example of the Protestant ethic. How does the American Dream relate to the trait of acquisitiveness, and how does this character with a Ben Franklin-style work ethic become seduced by the firm, are questions that can open up discussion of The Firm into a debate on what Americans consider to be personal success. Readers could consider whether the initial tempting offerings of the firm seem worth the price of long hours and reduced private life (aside from the firm's illegal purpose).
1. How do you like Mitch? How would you define his personality? As he decides how to resolve his conflict, what matters the most to him? What is his hierarchy of priorities? Where does money fit in the hierarchy? Does he or his hierarchy change as the novel progresses?
2. What does Grisham accomplish by including Ray McDeere as a character? What does Ray add to the book's presentation of Mitch and its presentation of crime?
3. How does Grisham portray the government? Does the FBI seem trustworthy, honorable, reliable?
4. How malevolent are the members of the firm? The key partners have debates with DeVasher on how to deal with problems, especially with Mitch. They often recoil from DeVasher's ideas.
5. Which characters, if any, seem to retain an internal moral compass? What are the book's moral standards?
6. What is Grisham's comment on the American Dream, the myth of success exemplified by Mitch? 7. How well does the book provide a sense of place, of Memphis, of the Cayman Islands? Why is Mitch's big confrontation with the FBI Director set on a frigid day in the vicinity of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?