Book Club Questions for Birmingham

I was so pleased when I heard from an old friend, Joy Fargo, that she had read Birmingham and was introducing it to her book club. May her tribe increase! Having searched the internet for book club questions, she wrote her own and passed them on to me.

Here they are, in case you are interested:

  1. Where were you in 1963 and how aware were you of what was happening in the Civil Rights movement?
  2. How does the opening scene in the bus set the tone of the book?
  3. The author uses alternating narrators to tell the story.  How does this affect your understanding of the events of the book?
  4. How would you describe Chris, the main character?  Was he believable to you (taking into account the year this happened)?
  5. What qualities do you see in Dorcas?  How did you respond to this character?
  6. What is the significance of the names the author chooses for the main characters:  Chris Wright, Dorcas Jones, Rev. R.I. Wriggleshott, Charley (the guy from the bus)?
  7. Dorcas keeps asking Chris why he is there.  Why was he there?  What role does her questioning play in the development of the story?
  8. What was accomplished by Chris’ trip to Birmingham (both in regard to the Civil Rights movement and in his personal life)?
  9. Chris’ wife Linda wanted him to stay in Berkeley and just fight injustices there.  Do you think that would have been a better choice?  What role does Chris’ wife play in this story?
  10. Does the book describe a different “black sexuality” and “white sexuality”?
  11. How do you feel about the portrayal of the leaders of the Civil Rights movement?  According to what you know, were they honorable?  Do you think the portrayal was fair?
  12. How would you describe the intersection of the Civil Rights movement and the Christian faith?
  13. Birmingham describes a black community that had varied responses to the Civil Rights movement. Which do you think was most idealistic? Realistic?
  14. If you had been in Birmingham in 1963, how do you think you would have responded?
  15. What injustice today might move you to action?
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