Wednesday, April 6, 2016

book club :: the mountain between us | discussion questions (chapters 1 - 13)

I'm reading The Mountain Between Us in April and have invited you to read along if you'd like. :) Every Wednesday in April, I will be listing a couple of discussion questions about the chapters we were supposed to read. I plan to read 13 chapters a week. It's about 100 pages or so. You can, of course, read at your pace and look over the discussion questions when you're ready.
book club :: the mountain between us | discussion questions (chapters 1 - 13)
  1. We have been introduced to four marriage/engagement relationships so far: Grover and his wife Gayle; Ben and his wife Rachel; Ashley and her fiance; and Ben's father and mother. What are the differences in each relationship? What are the similarities? 
  2. Consider the role of humor in the novel thus far. What is it teaching us about the characters?
  3. Ben asks Ashley: "What hurts?" One of the things she says is "my heart." (p. 58). The characters are experiencing physical pain from their injuries. There are also emotional pains that have been introduced. What do we know so far about Ben's emotional pain and Ashley's emotional pain? How will the pain connect them?
  4. An excerpt from a conversation between Ben and Rachel before they were married (or even dating) about improving her running technique. She begins: "'And you can fix this?' [Ben responds:] 'Well . . . I can't really fix it. You do that. But I can run alongside you and help you see it differently. Maybe help you find a rhythm that will cause you to lengthen it. Like running down a sidewalk- you naturally either start trying to land on the crack or miss it. Run with someone who has a longer stride, and then let your brain kick in. Either way, your stride adjusts without your thinking about it'" (p. 43). Is this only supposed to be interpreted within the running context or does it have applications beyond that? If so, what's the underlying meaning?
  5. What are the differences between Ashley and Rachel? What are the similarities?
Feel free to answer any or all questions in the comments. You can also ask your own questions or bring up another topic/discussion starter. I will be commenting, as well, and replying to all comments left. (If you leave a comment at a later time- when you've gotten around to reading this section- I will still reply to your comment within the comments section. Again, feel free to go at your own pace).

P.S. I have decided to change my blog schedule for this month (not that I've been faithful to my current blog schedule). I plan to reduce my posts to 3 times a week- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

4 comments:

  1. I'm trying to put on my "I have only read to Ch. 13 hat."

    1. We have been introduced to four marriage/engagement relationships so far: Grover and his wife Gayle; Ben and his wife Rachel; Ashley and her fiance; and Ben's father and mother. What are the differences in each relationship? What are the similarities?

    I think it's interesting that the author chose to introduce three relationships at very different points in their relationship - a very young relationship (Ashley and Vince), one that I would consider at the midpoint of their marriage (Ben and Rachel), and a seasoned marriage (Grover and Gayle). I think Ashley and Vince's relationship seems superficial at this point (we don't really have much to go off of though) and Grover and Gayle's has the wisdom that comes from being married that many years.

    2.Consider the role of humor in the novel thus far. What is it teaching us about the characters?

    I think it is teaching us about their strength. It takes a strong person to be able to laugh in terrible circumstances.

    3.Ben asks Ashley: "What hurts?" One of the things she says is "my heart." (p. 58). The characters are experiencing physical pain from their injuries. There are also emotional pains that have been introduced. What do we know so far about Ben's emotional pain and Ashley's emotional pain? How will the pain connect them?

    This was the first point in the novel (that I can remember) where Ashley discloses that she has emotional pain. We know more of Ben's emotional pain given he is the narrator - though not much more. I think the desire to survive despite their emotional wounds will connect them.

    4. An excerpt from a conversation between Ben and Rachel before they were married (or even dating) about improving her running technique...Is this only supposed to be interpreted within the running context or does it have applications beyond that? If so, what's the underlying meaning?

    I think the portion of the quote that focuses on the changing stride is really applicable, especially within this context, where adaptability is crucial to their survival. In a broader context marriage is a lot like running alongside each other- you learn from each other, encourage each other, and help each other "see it differently".

    5.What are the differences between Ashley and Rachel? What are the similarities?

    I think Ashley and Rachel are both very strong-willed. The main difference I see is that Ashley is more humorous - the characters ARE underdeveloped though ;)

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    1. 1. I hadn't thought about how the marriages are in different stages- that's interesting! I wonder if that was intentional.

      2. I agree that the humor is to show us how strong the characters are... I think it also makes them likeable.

      3. I really thought that the author was going to go into their emotional wounds more than he did. I think it would've added depth to the novel.

      4. "Adaptability is crucial to their survival." Definitely!

      5. I would have loved to see more depth in the characters!

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  2. 1. Regarding the four different marriages... I see Grover & Gayle as the "Ideal" marriage or the one to work towards. It seem's to be a good & long marriage that is real and has gotten better over the years. Ben & Rachel seem to have a surface level marriage...it seemed rushed (by Rachel), Ben brought a huge suitcase of baggage, and what's up with the recorder thing...talk face to face or get cell phones! Ashley & Vince...well, Ashley seems unsure and full of questions. We don't know too much about Vince...only that he couldn't survive in the wilderness! Ben's father and mother had a bad marriage full of abuse and abandonment.

    2. The role of humor...Ben & Ashley both seem to have a good sense of humor. It is helping them get through the pain, and it seems to be a connecting point for them.

    3. Pain...Ashley's emotional pain centers around her disappointment that her wedding is not going to happen...she looked forward to, planned, and wanted to get married all her life. (no mention of the guy :)/just the wedding itself). Ben's pain comes from an abusive upbringing with his dad, an absent mom...and a failed relationship with Rachel. The physical pain they are both experiencing is drawing them together and will help them open up on an emotional level.

    4. Running....Could have an underlining meaning on healing a broken-heart, renewing your mind or changing a bad habit to a good one. Our minds are powerful...with the desired outcome in mind, determination, and repetition - change will eventually take place & become natural.

    5. Ashley & Rachel...they both are athletic and seem about the same age. Rachel seems weaker to me...in the sense of being one dimensional. It seemed like Ben was the center of her world and she didn't have anything else to her. Ashley seems stronger to me in the sense of being able to stand on her own and have more interests. I agree with Jasmine though...the characters are underdeveloped. ;)

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    1. 1. I agree that Grover and Gayle's marriage was meant to be the ideal marriage. Did you think it was realistic?? ... I think the recorder thing was meant to be romantic, but I didn't love it either. lol.

      2. I really like Ashley's and Ben's humor. It's what I like most about both of them... though I know very little about them! ;)

      3. I really thought we were going to get deeper with the emotional baggage and was kind of disappointed that we didn't.

      4. Interesting take on the running symbol!

      5. I think we don't really know much about Ashley or Rachel... but you know who I liked better! ;)

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