Suggested Essay Topics

Part 1
1. Violet was not always crazy. Compare and contrast Violet as a young woman with how she behaves in the beginning of the novel.

2. The New York City setting plays an important role in the novel. Choose two characters and discuss the impact the city has on their lives.

3. Alice Manfred gives Violet a photograph of her niece Dorcas. In your opinion, does placing the photo on the mantlepiece make the situation better or worse?

Part 2
1. Was Joe and Dorcas’ relationship doomed from the start?

2. Joe and Dorcas were able to share some very painful hurts with each other. Discuss the source of pain for each.

3. Describe the differences in the way Joe and Violet react to Dorcas’ everpresent memory.

Part 3
1. Joe’s affair with Dorcas was totally out of character. Describe the kind of man he normally was.

2. The Miller Sisters preached fear and damnation to the children they cared for by using Bible stories. Dorcas, however, always missed the point and read something else into the stories. Explain.

3. Alice Manfred’s approach to childrearing was based on the way she was raised. What are some of the biggest mistakes she made in raising Dorcas?

Part 4
1. In her 40s Violet experiences a mother hunger that contributes to her losing her mind. Explain.

2. Violet tries to sort out her feelings about her father. In your opinion should he be criticized or admired for his approach to life?

3. Violet seems to both...

(The entire section is 649 words.)