Here are some discussion questions, should you decide to read The Boy With Blue Trousers for your bookclub.
- What mood and expectations did the prologue set up for the story to follow?
- In the first chapter on page 11, Second Brother tells Little Cat, ‘You have to stop behaving like a boy. You have to stop fighting and become a woman.’ Later, in the following chapter Little Cat says that ‘Sometimes fighting is the only way to be free.’ How do the first two chapters hint at the possible themes to be explored in the novel?
- When we meet Young Wu he appears to be a young man conflicted by the pull of duty versus desire. How does this inner conflict develop throughout the course of the novel?
- At the end of chapter three, Violet says, ‘That’s the thing about a snake in the grass, Alice. It’s usually too late once you see it coming.’ Do you think that Violet is a snake in the grass? What has made her the way she is?
- Filial piety was an integral part of Chinese culture at this time, but this might manifest in different ways. How would you contrast Young Wu’s relationship with his father to Little Cat and her brothers’ relationships with their parents?
- On page 147 Little Cat wonders about her twin ‘what might have been if they had both been boys. Or girls.’ What do you think might have been?
- Why does Little Cat touch her forehead to the bloodstained earth after she and Second Brother come across the execution ground in Kwangchow?
- The setting of the story moves from imperial China to colonial Australia. What are the biggest differences between these two settings? And how do they impact upon the characters?
- The story is based upon an historical event. How do you imagine the Chinese arrivals viewed the Europeans they came into contact with in this strange new land, and vice versa?
- Which character did you like most in the novel and why?
- Which character did you like least and why?
- The story is told from three points of view, Little Cat, Violet Hartley and Young Wu. Did these characters change throughout the novel? And if so, how?
- What event or character surprised you the most in the story?
- How did you feel about the ending? Did you predict it?
- How different is the description of the setting in the prologue to the final chapter? Why do you think the author has chosen to make such a contrast?
- ‘But Strong Arm did not believe in fate. And she did not want to wait.’ (Page 410) What part does fate play in the novel?
I have just finished reading this, and I enjoyed it very much.
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So pleased you enjoyed the story!