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Fancy Strut (Ballantine Reader's Circle)


Fancy Strut (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. The title of this novel is Fancy Strut. What does the

title of the book mean to you, both literally and figuratively?

Does your interpretation of the title change as the book

progresses? How?

2. Why do you think Lee Smith chooses to begin and end

the book with Miss Iona? In which ways is she a symbol

for the town of Speed and what its gone through over the

festival period? How does her story interweave with that

of Speed? What does she realize as the book progresses,

both about the town and about herself?

3. The theme of appearance versus reality threads

throughout Fancy Strut. How does the Sesquicentennial

Festival provide a showcase for this conflict? In which

ways does it make a turning point within Speed? How

does the involvement of the White Company, an outside

organization that conducts the festival, bring this struggle

to the surface? How is the White Company different from

how it appears?

4. How do daydreams and imagination provide an outlet

in Fancy Strut? Who in the town grapples with the conflict

between fantasy and reality? In your opinion, are these

fantasies healthy or unhealthy for those who have them?

Who is most likely to turn his or her daydreams into

reality, and why?

5. In which ways is Bob Pitt much different from how he

appears to the outside world? What drives him toward his

daydreams? How does his attitude toward his family, his

role in the festival, and Sandy underscore his struggle?

6. “We have to preserve our anachronisms,” Manly

Neighbors tells Monica (page 64). In which ways is

the town of Speed itself an anachronism, especially

considering racial and social factors? How are certain

oppositional forces in the town, such as Bill Higgins

and Lloyd, emblematic of the fight between the status

quo and modern changes? How does the balance of

power shift as the novel progresses?

7. The book follows the thoughts and actions of many

people in the town, including Bob Pitt, Monica, Bevo,

Lloyd, and Buck Fire. What effect does this shifting point

of view have on the story? How does this contribute to a

cohesive narrative and to painting a complete picture of

Speed? Is there one individual whom you view as the

“voice” of the narrative? If so, who, and why?

8. In which ways is Monica Neighbors a typical smalltown

wife and society lady? How does she chafe under

these classifications? How does she express her ennui,

both externally and in her daydreams?

9. Discuss the evolution of Ruthie. What is her motivation

for entering the Queen pageant? In which ways does this

action change her life? Why is Ron the Mouth so taken

with her? Why do you think she succumbs, finally, to his

advances—is she in love, or are her feelings more

pragmatic in nature?

10. What does being Queen represent for each of the

contestants? How do they see the crown as a gateway to

bigger and better things? How do organizers spin the

election process as fair and democratic? Is it really? In

your opinion, is the right person chosen as queen? Why

or why not?

11. Why does Buck Fire appeal to the women of the

town? What, originally, does Monica think of him, and

how does her mind change as the book progresses? Why

does Monica want to have a baby by the end of the book?

Do you think shes truly tired of herself, as she says?

Why or why not?

12. What significance does the housing suit brought

by the Speed Junior College students have for both the

festival and for the town as a whole? What motivates

both Theolester and Chall toward the suit? In which ways

are they idealistic, and in which ways pragmatic? Why

do you think Lloyd becomes their lawyer? How do others

in the town, particularly the mayor, react to the nascent

civil rights movement, both in the town and in the


13. Why does Miss Iona write obituaries for the

majorettes, and for Sandy, Frances, and Manly? Why

does this group inspire such particular contempt from

her? How is each symbolic of a changing world that she

neither likes nor understands?

14. How does the fire at the pageant galvanize the town?

Why does Bevo set it in motion? Does Sharon perceive

Bevo differently after the fire? How is the looting of the

town significant? Does it portend larger national events to


15. What do you think happens to the characters in Fancy

Strut after the Sesquicentennial and fire? Whom can you

see leaving Speed to embark upon a new life? Who would

be most likely to attempt to remain in the town and

maintain the status quo? Why?

Product Details

Smith, Lee
Ballantine Books
New York :
City and town life
City and town life -- Fiction.
Anniversaries - Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Ballantine Reader's Circle
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.20x5.53x.80 in. .72 lbs.

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Related Subjects

» Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Fancy Strut (Ballantine Reader's Circle) New Trade Paper
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$13.50 Backorder
Product details 368 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345410399 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Speed, Alabama, is frantically preparing for the event of a lifetime: Sesquicentennial Week. And all her proud citizens are kicking up their heels in a lively, pompous fancy strut....
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