Journeying through the dusty roads of 1938 America with Woodrow and his beloved giraffes in Lynda Rutledge’s “West with Giraffes” is a vivid foray into a past both familiar and remote. The novel, woven with intricate threads of historical events, inspiring characters, and pressing moral dilemmas, offers a rich terrain for exploration and discussion for all bibliophiles around the globe.
In today’s blog post, we’ll delve deeper into this narrative masterpiece, discussing some book club questions for West With Giraffes that shed light on the novel’s core themes and their relevance in today’s world.
Whether you’re an ardent fan of Rutledge’s work or simply someone curious about the book’s finer nuances, these questions promise to open up fresh perspectives and kindle an enriched appreciation of the story.
Join us as we embark on this analytical odyssey!
And if you want to know a bit more about what the book is about, feel free to check this review before moving on to the questions – West With Giraffes Summary and Review.
Book Club Questions For West With Giraffes For Discussion
- In “West with Giraffes,” Woodrow undergoes significant character development, transitioning from a young man freshly arrived from the Dust Bowl to an individual who has experienced love, guilt, loss, and redemption. As the narrative progresses, he faces the dilemmas of choosing between money and moral righteousness, shedding prejudices and evolving in the face of the times’ racism.
How do these personal conflicts and choices, in conjunction with the historical context of 1938, contribute to the novel’s classification as a bildungsroman (a book dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education), and how do they shape Woodrow’s evolution throughout the story?
- The relationship between humans and animals is a central theme in the novel. Woodrow’s profound bond with the giraffes and his commitment to their well-being highlight animals as beings deserving of human compassion and protection.
In what ways does the novel challenge prevailing 1930s attitudes towards animal rights, and how do these interactions and relationships underscore the broader societal reflections made in the story?
- As Woodrow and Riley traverse the American landscape of 1938, they encounter significant social and political challenges of the era, such as oppressive racism and the dominance of big financial players like Percival. These interactions not only provide a rich historical backdrop but also serve as vehicles for personal growth and transformation.
How do these historical touchpoints and conflicts inform the overarching narrative, and how do they challenge or reinforce the characters’ beliefs and motivations?
- Red’s character provides a significant commentary on the expectations and roles of women in her era. Though society expected her to remain domestic and tied to familial roles, she dared to dream bigger, aspiring to be an influential photojournalist.
How does Red’s personal adventure, both in her successes and heartbreaks, challenge the societal norms of her time, and what does it reveal about the confines placed on women of that era?
- The importance of memory, legacy, and the act of storytelling emerges strongly, especially in the latter parts of the novel. Woodrow’s decision to share Red’s story with her daughter is a testament to the power of personal narratives to transcend time and connect generations.
Considering Woodrow’s journey and its culmination in his written notes, how does the novel illuminate the importance of memory and storytelling as tools for understanding oneself and one’s place in history?
- Augusta “Red” Lowe, as a determined journalist aiming to make her mark with a unique photo-essay, brings a distinct perspective to the journey. Her struggles as a woman in a male-dominated society, her impending motherhood, and her ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the giraffes emphasize the challenges and strength of women in the 1930s.
How does Red’s character serve as a lens to explore the nuances of feminine agency and independence in a time when such concepts were still emerging, and how does her influence impact Woodrow’s trajectory?
- The journey undertaken by Woodrow is not just physical, but it is also deeply emotional and philosophical. His adventure becomes a backdrop against which he revisits and reevaluates his internalized beliefs and views about the world, especially on racial relations.
Given the transformative effects this journey had on him, how does the narrative of the book emphasize the importance of stepping out of one’s comfort zones and experiencing unfamiliar environments and cultures?
- Throughout the narrative, the concept of memory plays a significant role in shaping characters’ actions and perceptions. Woodrow, in particular, grapples with the haunting past, using storytelling as a medium to preserve, confront, and process these memories.
In what ways does the novel highlight the interplay between memory and identity, and how do individual characters reconcile with their past to shape their present and future?
- Through the intimate lens of Woodrow’s narrative, the readers are privy to his deeply ingrained traumas, his unwavering love for the giraffes, and his moral compass that frequently sets him apart from the prevalent societal norms. His past pains are juxtaposed with his unwavering commitment to the giraffes and the sacrifices he’s willing to make for them.
What do these intimate revelations reveal about Woodrow’s perspective on humanity, animal rights, and the significance of family in its broadest sense?
- Percival’s circus embodies the very essence of human cruelty, exploitation, and the perverse use of power for personal gain. On the other hand, the San Diego Zoo stands as a beacon of hope and a symbol of respect for animal life.
How does Rutledge utilize these contrasting settings to amplify the moral dilemmas and stakes present in Woodrow’s mission to safely transport the giraffes?
Check out our discussion questions for other books
- The Reading List Book Club Questions
- This Tender Land Book Club Questions
- Mad Honey Book Club Questions
- The Good Sister Book Club Questions
- Beautiful World Where Are You Book Club Questions