Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Can Wendell Berry be considered a “spiritual” writer despite his disavowal of formal Christianity?

What are the larger thematic implications of the biblical allusion in the title “Pray Without Ceasing”? How does Berry handle the themes of redemption and repentance in the story?

Why does Thad Coulter shoot Ben Feltner? Why does Mat Feltner not avenge his father’s death?

How does “Pray Without Ceasing” fit into the thematic and narrative structure of Fidelity? What are the implications of the title of that short-story collection? “Fidelity” to what?

How is Berry’s southern Agrarian orientation reflected in his agricultural and cultural essays in The Gift of Good Land?

What is the role of women in Berry’s agrarian world? What is Berry’s view of marriage? How is that view reflected in the poems of The Country of Marriage?

Is Berry regional vision ultimately nostalgic or elegiac? Does he witness the passing of an older order or celebrate a legacy of enduring agrarian values? Is it significant that most of his stories are set before World War II? What began to happen to the small family farm after the war?