Ideas for Group Discussions
Those who read a great deal of popular thrillers are likely to enjoy Snake Eyes and groups can be encouraged to draw on their expertise to assess the value of this genre and to compare Oates's novel to others they have read. They could measure Oates against the standard for these novels to see whether or not she surpasses that standard.
1. How terrifying is this novel? Can you describe in what ways it is terrifying?
2. What other images of the snake do you find besides on Lee Roy's arm? How does the image connect to the idea of evil? Who is evil? How do people become evil?
3. How well does Oates capture Michael's gradual breakdown?
4. Is Michael's revenge against Lee Roy justified? Would you call him a murderer?
5. Was Michael responsible for his twin's death? Why does Oates make him a twin? What does the fact of Michael's twinness tell us about his sons?
6. Why does Oates have Michael find the quote from The Book of Matthew about an "eye for an eye'"?
7. What kind of a mother is Mrs.
O'Meara? What kind of a father is Michael?
8. What kind of a marriage do the O'Mearas have?
9. Why does Oates make Janet O'Meara a television personality?
10. Besides the twins and the image of the snake eyes, what other images of the double do you find in the novel? Why is Oates so fascinated with the double?
(The entire section is 236 words.)