Ideas for Group Discussions
Look for darkness and light in Outer Dark. Is the novel mostly dark? Its dreamlike style is suggestive of a story meant to function symbolically rather than realistically. It is an early novel in McCarthy's career, and like many early novels it is heavily laden with ideas, but seems deficient in characterization and plot. Some readers may complain that the story wanders unnecessarily, perhaps pointlessly. Others will be gripped by its tale of grace and punishment, emphasizing the awesome implications of the outer dark. Discussions will probably be most successful by concentrating on the interplay of symbols such as the child or the figures who follow Culla. Another good approach would be to compare the novel to fairy tales, noting how both use stereotypes and archetypes to communicate basic cultural ideas to their audience.
1. Outer Dark carries a heavy load of symbolism. Its characters and their actions seem burdened with meanings beyond the simple story and action. What does Rinthy represent? What does Culla represent?
2. Can Culla ever find grace?
3. Who are the figures who follow Culla? Why is Culla blamed for their actions?
4. In what ways is Outer Dark like a fairy tale? In its plot? In its characterization? In its conflict?
5. Why do good people suffer in the novel?
6. The title of Outer Dark is suggestive of its themes. What is the outer dark of the novel? Who...
(The entire section is 365 words.)