Questions for Birmingham

A friend wrote telling me that her book group was reading Birmingham, my novel of the Civil Rights protest era. She asked whether I knew of some discussion questions. I didn’t, so she wrote her own. Here they are, in hopes that other book groups will be inspired.


1. Why do you think a “white” seminary student from CA would leave his wife and home to go to Birmingham? Do you think God would lead a person to do what he did?
2. Have any of you ever lived and/or traveled in the South?
3. What were your impressions of Dorcas? What was her role in the story?
4. Were you surprised that Rev. Wriggleshott welcomed Chris into his home? Why might his family be mistrustful of a “white” student from CA?
5. Why do you think Rev. Wriggleshott had to prod Chris to call his wife, Linda?
6. Was Operation C effective? (p. 38)
7. What were your impressions of Jerry Mealman? Was he an effective leader?
8. Was anything accomplished at the meeting at the Episcopol Church in chapter 5?
9. Was the meeting with the Methodist minister helpful to Chris (at the Country Club)?
10. Did the relationship between Dorcas & Jerry surprise you?
11. Was Tall Paul helpful to the movement?
12. Was it hard to believe Charley was a Methodist Christian as he said? Did you think Chris made a big mistake going with him for a ride?
13. Were you surprised at the description of Martin Luther King? Why did everything hinge on him (p.105)?
14. Why was Rev. Wriggleshott so intent on protecting Chris? What did Chris learn from his jail experience?
15. Were you surprised that Chris lacked the courage to speak up at the Methodist Layman’s meeting? (p. 114-115) What did you think of Charley’s explanation as to why whites mistreated Negroes as they did (p. 119)?
16. What moral or ethical decisions did the characters make?
17. How authentic was the culture and era represented in the novel?
18. Who was your favorite character?
19. What was the message of the book?
20. Did you like the ending?


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