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The Wedding


The Wedding Cover

ISBN13: 9780385471442
ISBN10: 0385471440
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Reading Group Guide

1. The novel's narrative and dialogue move the story along with a wealth of descriptive details setting the atmosphere for memorable scenes. Which details do you recall, and how do they serve their scenes?

2. The Weddingserves as a backdrop for the looming issues of race, interracial relationships, complexion, class, and an inherent sense of power and powerlessness. Discuss these issues within the context of the novel. What points does the author make?

3. The children--Barby, Tina, and Muffin--voice their young views on motherhood. What effects might their early experiences have on them as young women and adults? How do their small voices add a lyrical thread to the setting of the Oval?

4. Gram (Miss Caroline) mentally lives in a place long gone, unreconciled to her present. What significance does "Xanadu" (from Coleridge's "Kubla Khan"), hold in literature and how does West use the notion of Xanadu in its relation to Gram? to Hannibal? to Josephine? Does Xanadu serve as a metaphor for a larger context in The Wedding?

5. While the author sketches the beauty of the South, she is at her best weaving the smells, tastes, and sounds of Martha's Vineyard. Discuss the use of nature in the art of telling the story.

6. Who is Lute? As a father? As a husband? As a womanizer? What does he want? What does he represent--literally and figuratively? How does he embody Shelby's worst fears?

7. There are historical references to some of the characters' names in the novel--Hannibal, Isaac, etc. What messages are conveyed by using this literary device in the setup of these characters? What are some other examples in the novel? Think about Sabina.

8. Shelby as a young child gets lost on the Vineyard. Through this experience she learns she is "colored." Just before her wedding, she is confronted with the issue of "passing" and her lack of attention to colored men. How does she react to these insinuations? At what point does she become clear about her intentions to Meade, and why?

9. Labels (not names) such as Ebony Woman, Butternut Woman, Mr. White Trash, The Polack, and Mr. President, are devices used to tell a story with economy. What images do these labels evoke? How do these characters help move the story?

10. Salvation and redemption are themes that are crystallized in the relationship between Clark and the schoolteacher. Trace the lines of development. What other examples of illustrated themes can you point to in the novel?

11. A wedding does not actually occur in the novel for Meade and Shelby, but other marriages do. What is the basis for the selection of a spouse? What are the expectations? What are the factors and expectations related to your selection of a spouse?

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Marilyn Stachenfeld, July 8, 2008 (view all comments by Marilyn Stachenfeld)
I couldn't put this book down! It's Henry James with a feminine touch, a deftly rendered account of four generations of a multiracial family whose beloved, beautiful, blonde-and-blue-eyed black daughter is on the verge of her wedding. West weaves conscious and unconscious choices into a tale that explodes in unexpected yet inevitable violence, a "wedding" of all the forces that have divided our country racially since its very beginning. This is a great novel!!!!
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Product Details

West, Dorothy
Anchor Books
New York :
Martha's vineyard (mass.)
Martha's Vineyard (Mass.) Fiction.
Domestic fiction
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.02x5.24x.65 in. .48 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » African American » General
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General

The Wedding New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Anchor Books - English 9780385471442 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by , A "fascinating and engrossing tale" (People) by the last surviving member of the fabled Harlem Renaissance that explores universal truths of race, class, love, and social aspiration in a black enclave on Martha's Vineyard during the 1950s.
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