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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 173

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In the book, Maggie is torn between obeying her brother's often selfish wishes and choosing her own happiness. Which do you think is more important: obeying the wishes of parents and family or choosing your own life, even when they disagree with it? If your parents or brother threatened to disown you because of a choice you made, what would you do?

Research the use of water-powered mills, like the one in the book, to grind grain. When were such mills invented? How did they work? When did their use begin to fade, and why?

In the book, Maggie is highly intelligent, yet instead of being considered smart, she is viewed as "unnatural" by her father and others. How have attitudes toward women's education and intelligence changed over the years since 1860?

Tom makes money by investing in goods, which a sailor then sells on his voyages overseas. Investigate seafaring trade practices of the mid-1800s. Was this sort of investment common? Was it risky or a sure thing for Tom to do this?

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