Heaven Discussion Questions
1. How does the book represent modern Cherokee
life? How is life in this culture
different than life in mainstream American culture? What is Kingsolver saying by having part of
this story set in “Heaven, Ok”
2. Which women do you see as being independent
and strong? Give examples. How do these women influence (for better or
worse) the people around them.
3. What is the irony in the way that Taylor and
Turtle became family??? What is Kingsolver
saying about life in this part of the backstory?
4. Describe Barbie and Kevin and the symbolism
that each portrays. Do you know any
people like this in real life? Did Kingsolver
accurately draw these portraits, or did she make them caricatures? What do you think of the manner in which Taylor
deals with these folks?
5. How does the reader get a history lesson
regarding the Cherokee nation? Does
Kingsolver work this in seamlessly, or does it seem out of place or too much
like a history lecture??? What does this
history lesson add to the novel in terms of thematic development?
6. What do you
think Taylor is doing RIGHT in raising Turtle?
What is she doing wrong?
7. What is the
role that Lucky Buster plays in this story?
What is ironic about his name?
Are you sure it is ironic??? How
does it serve to further the “luck” motif going on in the story? What other
things go into developing the “luck” motif?
8. Contrast the
relationship between Alice and Harland with the relationship between Alice and
Cash. Which one is better? WHY?
9. Who do you
like the most? Why?
10. Who do you
detest the most? Why?
11. Annawake is the
antagonist to Taylor. Which of these
girls do you admire the most? Why?
12. Do you find
the ending of the book plausible? Why or
compares the history of the Cherokee nation with the Holocaust. Is it an apt comparison?
14. The novel is divided into three sections: Spring,
Summer, and Fall, written in English and Cherokee. What significance for you is
there in the fact that the novel is structured according to the cycles of
nature, ending during harvest, just short of winter?
15. The title,Pigs in Heaven,
refers to the Cherokee legend about the six bad boys that got turned into pigs
before their mother's eyes. Annawake tells this story—in two entirely different
ways—on page 87 and again on page 313. How does this story, in its two
versions, demonstrate the book's theme, and Annawake's growth? In what other
ways do pigs enter the story, as symbols of renegade individualism and
16. The novel seems to suggest that cultural emphasis on
independence, mobility, and self-reliance can lead to loneliness and
alienation. How do individual characters—Alice, Barbie, Rose, Cash, Taylor,
Jax—reflect this view of independence as isolation? Do you agree with the
novel's judgement? How have you, or people you know about, been affected by the
cultural celebration of "self-reliance?" Do you think men and women
relate differently to this cultural value?
17. What do you think Kingsolver is doing with the
juxtaposition of Cash and Mr. Crittenden, who committed suicide?
18. Who is Gabriel?
What does his story add to thematic development?
19. What role does
the television play in this story? What
does it symbolically represent?
20. What mother-child relationships do we see in this
story? What do these relationships add
to the novel?