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Binocular Vision

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Download the Reading Guide (PDF)

 

Discussion Questions

 

1. Binocular Vision is the name of the collection, as well as one of the stories. Why do you think it was chosen as the title? In what ways do some of the themes from the story carry throughout the collection?

2. Many of the stories take place in Godolphin, Massachusetts, a fictional suburb of Boston. Based on the various people who live there and their interactions with one another, what type of place do you think Godolphin is? Would you want to live there?

3. Consider your living environment and your neighbors. Have you ever experienced a situation like the characters in the apartment complex in “Allog?” Do any of the characters from elsewhere in the collection remind you of your neighbors?

4. Religion, specifically Judaism, has a strong influence on many of the characters in this collection. Did any of the stories make you rethink your relationship to religion?

5. There are many stories about illness, including “The Noncombatant,” “Tess,” “Home Schooling,” “Lineage,” and “Self Reliance.” What is your reaction to the way Pearlman deals with this issue? Did any of these stories cause you to reflect on your own experiences with illness and mortality?

6. In the story “Chance,” a local synagogue is selected to receive an old Torah. What is the significance of the story’s title? At the end of the story, the presentation of the Torah moves the entire congregation to tears. How does this response resonate with you? Why do you think the characters were so moved?

7. The collection includes a series of linked stories about a couple, Sonya and Roland, and their work during World War II (“If Love Were All,” “Purim Night,” and “The Coat”). Were you surprised by the relationship that developed between them? How did your opinions of Sonya and Roland change with each story?

8. Anna, Bernard, and Fergus from “Toyfolk” have each chosen professions related to toys. Consider why each might have made that decision. How are these “Toy People” similar? How are they different?

9. In “The Story,” why do you think Lucienne decides not to share her story with the da Costas?

10. Of all the characters in Binocular Vision, which do you most identify with? Why?