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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 293

Rich Man Poor Man will appeal to readers who love family sagas or who are curious about the book that the film adaptations come from. Each of the questions below can be used to analyze the novel itself or to discuss differences between the book and the film.

1. How...

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Rich Man Poor Man will appeal to readers who love family sagas or who are curious about the book that the film adaptations come from. Each of the questions below can be used to analyze the novel itself or to discuss differences between the book and the film.

1. How does Shaw divide the legacy of Mary and Axel Jordache among three offspring? A story about a son and a daughter would seem to have an easy and natural structure. Why three protagonists?

2. Does Shaw present each protagonist with equal sympathy? What is admirable and unadmirable about each?

3. Clearly Tom's best moment occurs at the end of the novel when he rescues Jean. He has transformed from thug to hero. What is Gretchen's best moment? What is Rudolph's?

4. About three-quarters through the novel, Gretchen asserts that her affair with Teddy Boylan was the shaping event in all their lives. How accurate is Gretchen's assertion?

5. Tom's friend Dwyer gets the last line in the novel, "Rich man's weather, Dwyer remembered." What do you make of that comment? Are the Jordache's still short of being "rich?" Or is the weather a sign they have become "rich?" Does "rich" mean more than "wealthy?" 6. Shaw deftly portrays arguments, fights, lustful encounters, riots, and other confrontational moments. Which violent scenes in the novel are most memorable?

7. Tom's death is not dramatized; it is reported with great understatement. Perhaps Shaw is afraid of seeming sentimental. Are there other occasions when Shaw avoids the depiction of positive emotions of friendship, affection, and love?

8. Do family saga novels appeal equally to male and female readers, or equally to younger and older readers? If they do not, what makes them appeal differently?

9. How is Shaw's work typical or atypical of a family saga?

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