Topics for Discussion

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1. When Mary leams that her nurse and both of her parents have died in the epidemic, she worries solely about who will take care of her. Why does she not display any expression of grief?

2. Why does Mary show no curiosity about her move to England, her uncle, or even about her future?

3. Mary's new life at Misselthwaite forces her to look at her behavior for the first time. What role does Dickon's sister, Martha, play in Mary's self-examination?

4. Mary recognizes herself in the old gardener, Ben, and in the robin. What do they have in common? Why is Ben so reluctant to speak with Mary?

5. Why is Mary so curious about the secret garden? What does it represent to her?

6. Mary has always shunned other children; why, then, does she want to meet Dickon? What, other than her interest in restoring the garden, enables her to become friends with him?

7. When Mary and Colin first meet, both are startled, and both think that the other is a ghost. Why do they think this? In what ways have the two actually been like ghosts?

8. At first, Colin is a spoiled, obnoxious boy. What draws Mary to him? Why does she tell him about the garden? Why does she help him? How is she able to convince him that his fears of dying are exaggerated?

9. Why do Colin, Dickon, Mary, and Ben go to great lengths to keep the restoration of the garden a secret?

10. Colin declares that his and Mary's growing strength is caused by the "magic" of the garden and insists that each of them must help the "magic." What is the "magic," and how do they help it?

11. Colin intends to hide his return to good health until his father returns from Europe, and then he plans to march into his father's study to surprise him. Instead, his father discovers Colin running out of the garden straight into his arms. Colin then takes his father into the secret garden to explain all that has happened. Is this ending more satisfying than the one Colin intended? If so, how? Why is it important for Mr. Craven to go back into the garden after ten years? Why are Mary and Dickon absent from the last few pages of the book?

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