Shadow in the North Topics for Discussion
by Philip Pullman

Start Your Free Trial

Download Shadow in the North Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Considering the historical setting of the novel, is Sally a believable character? Why or why not?

2. Why does it take Sally so long to realize she loves Fred? Would marrying him really curtail her freedom?

3. Compare the three young women in the novel: Sally, Lady Mary, and Isabel. How does each react to adversity? Are these believable responses? Who do you like the best? Why?

4. Why does Sally not hate Isabel?

5. Mackinnon and Jim share many of the same characteristics—a love of theater, a sense of the dramatic, and a knack for flirting with women. Why does Jim initially dislike Mackinnon? What changes his mind?

6. Is Bellmann insane or is he simply a ruthlessly misguided idealist? Could there have been a way for him to redeem himself?

7. Bellmann's proposal of marriage to Lady Mary sounds more like a business deal than anything else. Is this right? Does the answer to this question change when it is Sally who makes the bargain?

8. Is it fair that Fred dies attempting to save Isabel? Should he have left her in the house?

9. How much have women's rights progressed since the Victorian Age? How far must they go? Will they go far enough?

10. Would the novel work if the story was told through the eyes of only one character? Whose perspective would you choose? How would it change the story?

11. While tragedy occurs during the story, Shadow in the North ends on a note of hope for the future—Bellmann's weapon has been destroyed and Sally is pregnant with Fred's child. What impressions do you have of the novel? Did you like it? Why or why not?