Act II (Saturday) Discussion Questions

Note: Page references are to the hardcover edition.

Things cost a lot in 1946. An average salary was only $45 per week, around $2,000 annually. Minimum wage was $.40 per hour–that’s $16 a week for full time work! So even though it may sound as though everything was super cheap in JOL, it wasn’t. How much would it cost today? In 1946:

  • $200-$300 tuition for a theater internship
  • $15 a week for pocket money
  • $30 a night for a good hotel
  • $20 a week for room and board
  • $.75 for 2 hamburgers plus a milkshake

P. 70 How important is it for your parents or friends to approve of the way you dress?

P. 72 Have you ever met anyone famous? Did meeting them change the way you felt about them, or imagined they would be?

P. 74-75 Sophie doesn’t like being called Soapie. Elizabeth has expressed disdain about her yet she asks her for a favor. Did Elizabeth take advantage of Sophie by asking to use her board money even though she doesn’t like her?

P.80 How do you actually become an actor? When you say you are or when someone pays you? Are you any good or just untested or unproven because no one has discovered you and your talent? How will that happen? How do you help it along?

P. 85 Is the scene from the Seagull, a parallel or metaphor for the love triangle of Elizabeth, Kurt and Ben?

p. 101 Elizabeth says she feels like Jo in Little Women. What does that mean?

p. 102-105 The flashback to when Elizabeth’s father died and Aunt Harriet tells her what to expect living under her roof. What may have made Aunt Harriet so bitter, yet so willing to take care of her niece? What is she missing? If someone doesn’t express their feelings openly, does that mean they don’t feel anything? What is Aunt Harriet afraid of? Does expressing one’s feelings all the time create unreasonable expectations from the people you are expressing them to? Write a short story or poem from Aunt Harriet’s point of view.

p. 116 THE BIG REVEAL ABOUT ELIZABETH’S MOTHER. Have you ever lost anyone you loved? Do you know someone who is divorced or widowed? How did it make you feel? What did you learn from the experience and would like to tell others who may encounter it, to help them deal with it?

p.119 How do you know if someone really loves you or has other motives for expressing their feelings?

p. 120 Have you ever felt like Anna Larsen? Needing attention from everyone? Sometimes people who are talented or famous or who have gotten used to having a lot of attention seem like they can’t survive without it. Did you ever feel vulnerable when someone didn’t respond to a text, email, facebook, tweet or something else?

p.122 Are John Peter and Jane protecting their friend Ben by telling Elizabeth that Ben loves her, and advising her not to be cruel to him nor lead him on if she does not have reciprocal feelings? What is a friend’s responsibility to another friend in a situation like this? Would you tell? If so, why? What are the potential consequences of telling?

p. 130-131 Ben trash talks Sophie and Bibi, saying they both lack talent, in an effort to get closer to Elizabeth. Have you ever done anything like that to make a friendship stronger? How did you feel about it later?

p.132 Elizabeth talks about how kind Valborg Andersen is. Are famous people different than regular folks? Do we have different expectations or rules for our friends than celebrities we like? Why?

p.132 Ben talks about how insecure he feels about his future in the theater and how he feels he’s bluffing his self-worth. He also acknowledges sometimes he is a bully because it makes him feel stronger if someone else is weaker. Nice people can sometimes bully others because they feel insecure. Ben is a nice guy. What should he do differently?

p.135 Kurt puts the moves on Elizabeth. Does he really love her or does he just want to hook up? Is he taking advantage of her? How would you respond in a similar situation?

Slang Terms

Being filthy
Handkerchief top
Kewpie doll (p. 110)
Are you decent?
You’re cracked
Slitching (p. 126)


Sagaciously (p.80) Pompous (p.98)
Sharkskin (p.81) Sphinxlike (p.100)
Adversity (p.85) Obligingly (p.101)
Extinguish (p. 85) Consoled (p.101)
Intoxicated (p.86) Dispassionate (p.101)
Creed (p.86) Appalled (p.103)
Ecstatic (p.89) Lurid (p.103)
Ardent (p.91) Awry (p.103)
Simian (p.90) Hellion (p. 107)
Buoy (p.94) Ravenous (p.107)
Periwig (p.94) Citronelle (p.121)
Temperance (p.97)