Arm of the Starfish Readers Guide

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THE ARM OF THE STARFISH Readers Guide: Discuss

  • This novel anticipates some of the political, scientific, and technological changes of the past 50 years, yet it also reflects the time it was written in. What stands out to you?
  • Adam compares many of the characters from Arm of the Starfish to animals. Why do you think this is? Which comparisons have the most value?
  • Love as a theme: Each character in Arm of the Starfish has a moment or moments where Love is used as a vehicle in defining their values (or lack of). Discuss each character. Does the meaning love change for them? Where and when are they faced with it?
  • The Fall of the Sparrow: What does the fall of the sparrow represent throughout the novel? What characters embrace this concept? What does it say about each of them?
  • Time is a problem: too much and not enough, chronological inconsitencies and the ravages of. In what ways is time important to both character and theme?
  • Discuss the ethics of Dr. O’Keefe’s medical research and experiments.
  • Joshua and Adam have a conversation regarding Dr. Baal. Adam thought that he would be good because “he’s a churchman and stuff.” Joshua discusses the dangers in thinking that one bad person doesn’t mean all people are bad and vice versa. Do you think this is true? Have you come across this in your personal life? pg 91
  • Adam finally figures out what everyone has been humming as a code. The Tallis Canon! Joshua responds, “That’s the way things come clear. All of a sudden. And then you realize how obvious they’ve been all along.” Do you find Joshua’s statement to be true? How so? Identify the moments of sudden clarity that arise throughout the book.
  • Poly as a symbol of love. Discuss Poly’s growth as a character. How do her interactions with the other characters represent love? “What she is too young to have learned yet is that love is too mighty a gift for some people to accept.” pg 112
  • Dr. O’Keefe’s discoveries are likened to what happened when the power of the atom was unleashed: “Here is power to give life to people, or to devour them.” When something is high risk/high reward, what responsibilities to individuals have? Are those different for scientists? The government? Consumers?
  • Typhon Cutter uses being American as bait for Adam’s help. How does this patriotic love compare to the love Joshua references in Frost’s poem?
  • Adam, the evening before he leaves for his risky mission, thinks about Macrina and animal behaviour. He wonders if animals show sorrow. What are your thoughts on this?
  • If you’ve read A Wrinkle in Time, discuss the adults Meg and Calvin have become. Is this what you expected?

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L’Engle’s Arm of the Starfish Readers Guide by Crosswicks, Ltd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.