1. What is the purpose of including the opening framing segment for the tale? What points are made in this section? Are you convinced that Chiaro dell' Erma was a historical personage?
  2. What are some of the central themes of this tale?
  3. What can you say about the author's style? The use of metaphor?
  4. What are the stages through which Chiaro passes in developing his art? Which stages are most successful, and why? What seems not to work at all?
  5. What seems to be the relation between art and morality, in the narrator's view?
  6. What can you tell about Chiaro's temperament? What kind of person is he?
  7. What purpose is served by the allegorical woman? What is Chiaro's relationship to her? Why is the soul perceived as a woman, and moreover as a young and beautiful one?
  8. What symbolism inheres in the fact that Chiaro's "soul" doesn't speak directly to him, but he hears her words as his own in a space between them?
  9. Why do you think the author of "Hand and Soul" includes learned notes? Are these helpful? What is the purpose of introducing conversation in Italian and French?
  10. What is the purpose of the final scene and concluding sentence? What response does the narrator claim to expect from the reader? Do you think this is sincere?
  11. What view of art does "Hand and Soul" seem to advocate? Is the title appropriate?
  12. What are unusual features of this tale? To what extent does it resolve the issue of what and how an artist should choose to paint?