Act I (Friday) Discussion Questions

Note: Page references are to the hardcover edition.

p.11 Elizabeth fears speaking with her Aunt Harriet because she is afraid her Aunt will ask her to come home. Did you ever worry in advance about having a conversation with somebody: a parent, a friend? Did you ever have to negotiate with them for something you really wanted? What was the result of that conversation? What might you say differently if you had a chance to do it again?

p.14 Elizabeth is very excited when she first sees Kurt. Have you ever had a sudden attraction to somebody whom you had not yet met? How did it make you feel? Were you finally introduced? What happened next?

p.19 Mr. Price explains the star system in his theater. Is there a star system today? Name some of the stars you follow and why you like or don’t like them or their work.

p.20 Elizabeth majored in Chemistry in college. Have you read other books by L’Engle? Many of her protagonists are scientists of some kind. What do you think this says about the characters, or about L’Engle?

p.23 Mr. Price tells Elizabeth that many people who want to be actors will fail, no matter how talented they are, that talent is no guarantee of success. Do you know of any actors, musicians or other entertainers that beat initial odds against them to find success? Hint: Jennifer Lopez

p.25 Jane and Elizabeth go to the Automat and talk about how they are going to be successful, rich and famous. Do you want that, too? How will you achieve it? What’s your plan? And what if you fail? What’s your plan B?

p.29-36 We meet more of the apprentices in their dormitory during this scene. It takes place at the Cottage, where they share rooms and living arrangements and presumably have to get along with each other despite having just met. Do you or have you ever shared a bedroom with a sibling? Have you been to sleep away camp? Describe what that is like and how you adapted to the situation.

p.33 Kurt is talented, handsome and successful. Around Elizabeth he is also needy, judgmental and very demanding. Have you ever had a friendship with someone who asked for more than they gave? How did it make you feel? How did you manage the relationship?

p.40 Elizabeth is jealous of Dottie, whom although the same age, has achieved a lot more in the theater. Dottie is living Elizabeth’s dream, even though we don’t know how/why Dottie has achieved so much so fast nor the compromises she may have made in the process. Are you or have you ever been jealous of anyone because they got what you desire. Is it fair to feel that way?

p.43 Kurt describes his sad childhood, sounding like a bad fairy tale. It makes Elizabeth feel she might be able to make him feel better, even though her childhood seems way worse. What can you do to help when someone feels bad about themselves? When do you stop trying?

p.39-45 In this scene Elizabeth is falling in love with Kurt and they have a very romantic dialogue. If Kurt and Elizabeth could text each other or had Facebook or Twitter accounts, what might this conversation sound like if it had been conducted online? Re-create the dialogue in this scene as a text, twitter or facebook exchange.

Slang Terms

Sourpuss (p.14)
I’d give my eyeteeth (p.28)
Crotchety (p.38)
Boite de Nuit (fr.)


Gesture (p.4) Swivel (p.11) Entanglement (p.26) Vicarious (p.38)
Greasepaint (p.4) Summa cum Laude (p.13) Wilted (p.26) Imbued (p.38)
Cold cream (p.4) Anteroom (p.13) Hamper (p.26) Beanpole (p.39)
Barnacled (p.4) Snubbed (p.14) Alcove (p.30) Milling (p.39)
Dirndl (p.5) Ulcer (p.15) Incongruous (p.31) Shading (p.39)
Precocious (p.5) Bowler hat (p.17) Tousling (p.31) Legitimate (p.41)
Madrigal (p.5) Scribbled (p.17) Petulant (p.33) Confinement (p.42)
Stragglers (p.5) Flinched (p.18) Instinctively (p.33) Claustrophobia (p.42)
Melancholy (p.6) Resonance (p.18) Clarion (p.34) Lecherous (p.43)
Surreptitiously (p.6) Gay (p.19) Bobby pins (p.34) Degenerate (p.43)
Luminous (p.6) Incidentally (p.21) Balustrade (p.34) Taut (p.43)
Dispersed (p.7) Conscience (p.21) Sleek (p.34) Murmured (p.43)
Graven (p.8) Characterization (p.23) Liebchen (p.34) Crouched (p.43)
Vague (p.8) Deteriorates (p.23) Concessions (n. p.35) Typhoid Fever (p.45)
Gaseous (p.8) Mediocre (p.25) Seamstress (p.270) Conversational (p.46)
Mimeographed (p.10) Autobiography (p.25) Amber (p.37) Transitions (p.46)
Decadent (p.11) Blighted (p.26) Cummerbund (p.37) Solitary (p.47)