1) I’d like you to describe your feelings as things got worse and worse for Jurgis and his family. Was Sinclair Lewis effective in “pulling your heart strings” with his description of abject misery? Why or why not?
2) What are the most conspicuous (jumps at at you) elements of societal organization that existed in 1906 that don’t exist anymore (or at least not to the degree they did then)? What I’m asking you to think about with this question is the living conditions of the family, the working conditions, the general state of their neighborhood, etc.)
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3) As you are reading, is there a “way out” for Jurgis and his family you wished they would have taken? If there is, how would do you think it would play out for the family if they took it? If there isn’t, describe why you don’t think there is.
4) As things descend into ever more difficulty, Jurgis’s personality changes (he becomes moody, depressed, violent). Describe the significance of this change in his character and how this change can be read as a commentary of the structural effects of poverty? How does what happens to Jurgis’s family (the young boys “running with the wrong crowd,” Jurgis beating young Stanislovas) contradict an ideology that suggests one can overcome dire straights (really bad situations) by sheer force for will?
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