Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

How do the settings of Richard Ford’s fiction relate to the themes of his short stories and the novels?

Comment on the multiple meanings of the title Independence Day.

Consider the desire for order as exhibited in Ford’s novels The Sportswriter, Wildlife, and Independence Day.

Ford’s narrators and/or protagonists fall generally into two categories, young men or middle-aged men. Compare his portrayal of the points of view between one character from each work; for example, compare the narrator of Wildlife to Frank Bascombe in The Sportswriter or Independence Day.

Although Ford’s stories and novels are considered by many critics to be pessimistic in their outlook, there are optimistic elements in the endings of some of these works. Comment on one or two that exhibit this view.

Comment on the ambiguity in the ending of one or more of Ford’s stories or novels.

Ford acknowledges Sherwood Anderson as a major influence on his work and cites specifically “I’m a Fool” and “I Want to Know Why.” Comment on how “I Want to Know Why” would be an appropriate title for several of Ford’s works of fiction.

Discuss self-analysis as a major element of various Ford characters.