Discussion Guides:

You may belong to a reading group, teach a class, or want to discuss the stories in Silent Girl with a good friend. Whatever your motivation, you’ll find a discussion guide for each of the stories and one for the collection as a whole.

I’ve provided two sets of questions for the individual stories: “If you’re into Shakespeare” and “If you’re not.”

I hope the questions will stimulate discussion and provide a deeper understanding of Silent Girl.

Guides for each of the stories can be accessed by using the links in the grey box above. To download PDF files for printing, visit the downloads page.

Discussion questions
for the collection as a whole
  1. In what ways are some of the protagonists in the collection “silent?” Are they silenced by others or do they silence themselves? Why and how?
  2. How do patriarchal structures and values affect some or all the protagonists?
  3. In what stories do women collaborate in the oppression of other women? How and why?
  4. To what extent is the drive for freedom a theme in the collection?
  5. With which character do you identify most and why?
  6. How do gender expectations impact Kyal in “Kesh Kumay” and Trudy in “Passing Through?”
  7. In “The Snow People: AGM 30-46,” Selanna says, “Anyone can see tomorrow if they don’t lie to themselves about today.” Compare Selanna’s success at living according to this principle with that of the narrator in “Nobody; I Myself.”
  8. How do the stories challenge your views: of domestic abuse? Of sexuality? Of racism? Of gender politics?


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She took the hand he extended and stepped out of the car. When she reached for the baby, he said, "I’ll do that. We need to get you in first." Had the muscles in her back and legs not ached from pushing Nicole out, had her anus not been on fire from who the hell knew what the doctor had done when she was spread open and helpless, she might have caught the treachery in his voice.

— Deep Dark Waves