Six Degrees of Separation

by John Guare

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Many critics have remarked on the satiric elements in Six Degrees of Separation. Remember that satire is the use of ridicule, humor, or wit to criticize human nature and institutions and provoke change. Do you think the play is satirical? Why or why not?

Paul talks about the death of the imagination in his Catcher in the Rye speech. How does his monologue show his imaginative powers?

Conduct research to find out more about race and class relations in America in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Do the Kittredges strike you as realistic representations of wealthy, white New Yorkers? Explain your answer.

The play references numerous works of art. If you had to depict the play in a visual form, what would it look like?

Imagine that Ouisa had arrived at the Waverly Theater before Paul was picked up by the police. What do you think she would have said to him? Write their dialogue.

At the end of the play, Ouisa says of Paul, "He did more for us in a few hours than our own children ever did." Does the play support this assertion? Explain your answer.

In his review of the play, William Henry, III writes that the play "confronts the ambivalence that the sane feel toward the mentally ill" and calls Paul "pathological." Do you agree with the assessment? Why or why not?

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