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22 August 2010 @ 05:19 pm
Dogs of Babel Discussion Questions  
Hey all!

I realize that we're about to switch to a new community, but I figure I can re-post these questions there if necessary. I found some great discussion questions online about this book which might facilitate some interesting conversation.
1. Paul is a college professor -a man of reason-yet he is determined he can teach his dog Lorelei to talk. What accounts for his strange conviction? Has grief driven him mad, or do his actions have a rational explanation?

2. Paul and Lexy seem to have extremely different personalities. What characteristics in Paul might have drawn Lexy to him? What, for Paul, were the irresistible elements of Lexy's character? Were there early indications that she had a darker side?

3. What do you make of Paul and Lexy's whirlwind romance and courtship? Do they rush into the relationship too quickly, or does the intensity of their feelings for each other indicate a powerful bond?

4. What kind of clues does Paul find to indicate that Lexy's death had more to it than it seemed? Do you think Lexy deliberately left him a puzzle to piece together?

5. How does making death masks affect Lexy? Despite Paul's fears that it is too morbid a pursuit for her, why does she tell Paul she wants to continue?

6. Lexy creates a death mask for a young girl named Jennifer, who committed suicide. Why do Jennifer's parents reject the first mask Lexy makes? What kind of significance does the mask take on for Lexy?

7. Paul's obsession with the Cerberus Society leads him and Lorelei into a dangerous situation. Why is he so fascinated with this strange group? Is he responsible for Lorelei's abduction?

8. During Paul and Lexy's vacation in New Orleans, Lexy is convinced that she has met the ghost of Blue Marie. Why is this meeting so important to her? What happens when she is led to believe that the woman was not, after all, Blue Marie?

9. Lexy faithfully records her dreams in a dream journal. After her death, Paul hunts through this book searching desperately for answers. What role do dreams play in the book? Do you think they offer a window into a person's psyche? How do Paul's dreams about Lexy reflect how his own grieving process progresses?

10. What is the significance of the verses from Tam Lin that Lexy teaches Paul on pp. 60-1? How does their meaning transform throughout the novel?
psychedeliceyes on August 23rd, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
Part Two
7. Obviously Paul is willing to resort to desperate measures to find out the circumstances of Lexy’s death. I don’t think he’s plunged completely off the deep end, though. He still recognizes that what these people are doing is wrong, that they are being abusive to their dogs, and that he doesn’t want these men to have their hands on Lorelei, demonstrated by the fact that he takes her home. I think this is what’s especially important to the situation. He takes her home. Paul was concerned for Lorelei’s safety so, yes, he did lead her into a dangerous situation but he got her out as soon he realized the depth of it. No, he wasn’t responsible for her kidnapping.

8. Her desire to see Blue Mary could be for more than one reason in my opinion. Speaking from my own perspective, I would think that it’s because she wants to know of a life after death or maybe she wants to believe in the supernatural or that there are things that can’t be rationally explained by humans. I also think that Blue Mary represented love after death for her. She wanted to believe that the love between herself and Paul would live on despite the eventuality of death.

9. I kind of like to think that this book was subverting the notion that dreams in books have to be ~*symbolic*~. Of course, Lexy’s dreams are relevant to her life in the same way that dreams are relevant in reality. But they do not foreshadow and they do not give answers to Paul’s questions (which I would consider an unfortunate plot device, so I’m quite happy that Parkhurst avoided this old trope). In the end, Lexy’s dreams are simply that: dreams.

10. I would probably expound on this more if I had the book right next to me. The one thing that struck me the most about the story was the fact the heroine was pregnant. In the middle of the book, when Paul tells Lexy that she’s Tam Lin, I realized she must be pregnant. I want to discuss significance but I can’t make myself remember the specifics of it.