1. What does Mrs. Munro suggest when she comes to help with the funeral? Why are her opinions upsetting?
2. What roles does Chris assume after her mother's death?
3. How does she respond to her father's advances? To his death? What do you make of her initial matter-of-factness, and her later sense of love and forgiveness?
4. How does Will's relationship to his father change after his mother's death? (the mother had been a moderating influence) Why doesn't John Guthrie behave in a way which might encourage his son to continue the farm after his death?
5. What are the circumstances of Will's courtship? How does he leave home, and what are his regrets? Why isn't he willing to take Chris with him?
6. How do the Guthries and Rob respond to the burning of the Strachan barn? (rush to help)
7. What events precipitate John Guthrie's paralysis? How does he behave to those who try to help him? Under what circumstances does he die?
8. What is the fate of the twins? Why were these chosen to be sent away? What do you make of the fact that they entirely disappear from the novel?
9. How do Chae and Long Rob react to John Guthrie's death? What has been the relationship of the neighboring families? (mutual help in crises)
10. How does the novel portray religion and its ministers? What are John Guthrie's religious views? (angry at god) Does Chris profess any religion? To what form of religion would they have been exposed?
11. What are the differences between the three ministers who preach a sermon, and on what grounds is the selection made? (53ff.) What do we learn about Mr. Gibbon's consistency of life? (repeatedly promiscuous, 74-75)
12. What is unusual about John Guthrie's will? Why do you think he disinherited his three sons? Would this have been common at the time? How does this decision influence the later plot? (Chris settles on farm rather than becoming a teacher; need for helper on farm helps motivate marriage)
How many workers are needed to maintain a farm in these circumstances? (three) What is added by the presence of a third person on the farm? (elderly and kindly man helps with the farmwork when Ewan is gone)
13. What are some circumstances in which Chris experiences a sense of epiphany? (after father's death, before marriage, 119, 146) Why does Chris decide to remain on the farm? (sense of connectedness with land)
14. What are Chris's first sexual encounters? (kissed by stranger who turns out to be Ewan)
15. Under what circumstances does she meet Ewan Tavendale, and what seems the nature of their relationship? What do we learn about his background and past? (a highlander, seems sharp of temper and combative)
16. What use is made of the epithet "tink" throughout? Does Grassic Gibbon approve, do you think?
17. What are some examples of the book's humor or irony? (e. g. 84)
18. What are some features of the novel's prose style? Some repeating sentence patterns? Are there passages which seem especially poetic?
19. How does Gibbon use animal imagery? How are animals portrayed in the book? What aspects of their lives are frequently noted?
20. Who are some important characters outside the Guthrie family? (e. g. Chae Strachan, Kirsty Strachan, Rob, Mrs. Munro, the doctor, the old farm worker, Tony and Andy, the Gordons) What does each contribute to the narrative?
21. What are the habits and character of Chae and Rob? On what things do they agree and on what things do they differ?
22. What are Rob's views on the Scots language? (156)
23. Why do you think Gibbon included the whin burning scene? The scene in which the Strachan barn burns?
24. What are some striking scenes in the novel's first 150 pages? Why are these significant?
25. Who helps Chris prepare for the wedding? What thoughts does she have on her wedding night? (146, 161)
26. What are some important features of the wedding scene? The toasts? (157)
27. What forms of advice is she given? (162, Chris is warned against having too many children)
28. What kind of songs are sung? (163-64) What is the significance of Chris's choice of song? Do any aspects of the event seem to be foreshadowing? (165, 167)
29. What parts of life do the young couple share? Are they happy? (he enjoys farm work and is happy to be on a farm) What are differences in their approach to the past?
30. How does Chris respond to her pregnancy? (176) What change of behavior does she exhibit toward her husband? (179)
31. What are some notable features of the childbirth scene? Can you think of earlier literary presentations of childbirth? (rare)
32. How do they first learn about the outbreak of war? What are their first responses? (186-87) Why do you think Mitchell includes this scene? (demonstrates remoteness of war)
33. What is the minister's response to war? His motivation? (194, first sees it as punishment for evil, then decides to emphasize patriotism) What will be the final result of his fulminations against the Germans? (receives position in Scots congregation in US)
34. Which men of the region go to war, and what are their fates? (e. g. Gordon Jr., Will, Chae, Rob, Ewan)
35. What effect does the war have on Kinraddie and its surrounding regions? What makes the selling of lumber and raising chickens more profitable?
36. Why is Chae troubled at the cutting of the woods? What happens to the farms as a result? (202)
37. What is Chae's attitude toward the war on his first leave home? What advice does he give to someone who asks whether he should enlist? (no) Has he seen any of the evil Germans he went out to kill? (none except corpses, who seemed perfectly ordinary)
What seems significant or prophetic about "Daft" Tony's statement on the roadside? (204, the same mills still grind) Does Chae still hope that the war will bring about better social arrangements?
38. What happens to Rob's livelihood after his imprisonment for refusing to fight? How does he react to the gang of men who harass him? (196)
39. Who helps him recover on his return to his home? (Chris and the farm worker)
Where do you think the author's sympathies lie?
40. On Will's return home, what news does he give of his life in Argentina? Why has he enlisted in the French army? Did his employer suggest this? (no, tries to discourage him)
As a translator, is he more likely to survive the war?
41. On which subjects do Will and Chris differ? Why doesn't Will wish to return to Scotland? (216) May this difference be affected by the fact that Chris owns the farm? How does Chris react to her brother's choices? (alienated by his distaste for Scotland)
42. What view does she give to Will of the Scottish attitude toward religion? (217) Do you think she is generally accurate, based on the literature we have read for the course?
43. How does Ewan behave on his last leave home? (225) How has he changed from before? (boasts of sexual relations elsewhere, insults wife and neglects son) How are we expected to interpret this? (unable to adapt to alien circumstances; had needed the secure routine of the farm)
How does Chris respond? (at first ignores, finally refuses to sleep by him or prepare food)
44. What do you think motivates his rough behavior? (mental disturbance, a form of PTSD) What is sad about his leavetaking? (no farewell, 228)
As he leaves, does the reader expect that he will die in war? Is Chris's refusal to bid him farewell an unconventional plot element? (usually fictional good women bear and forebear even if abused)
45. What do you think of the sudden changes of mood or emotions Chris experiences? Are her responses always consistent, and if not, what is Gibbon trying to indicate?
46. Do you think the novel is effective in conveying an inner consciousness?
47. What do you think about the pace of the final section? Does it seem appropriate that so many important events should happen quickly?
48. What supporting roles are played by Mistress Melon and John Brigson? Does Chris have many women friends, and is this important?
49. What changes in the songs heard and sung are brought about by the war? 231 What kind of song had Rob especially liked?
50. How does Chris run the farm in Ewan's absence? Can you think of other novels in which a woman runs a farm, especially early twentieth century ones?
51. How does Chris learn the news of Ewan's death, and what are her first responses? (telegram, 236) How does she react to those who tell her that her husband has died a hero?
52. What does she learn from Chae about the circumstances under which her husband died? What is remarkable about the final scene between the two men?
53. How does it affect our view of him and his role in war that he was shot as a traitor for attempting to return to his home?
54. Why does Rob leave for war? (232) In what context do he and she have sex? Who is the more responsible, and what is her motive? (revenge against Ewan as well as affection for Rob)
55. Does the author present this episode sympathetically? What difference would it had made had he placed the notice of Ewan's death before this scene?
56. How does Chris achieve a measure of peace about Ewan's death? What vision comes to her at the end of the section? Do you think this provides a good closure for the events of the "song"?
57. What do we learn in the "epilude" about the fate of Kinraddie after the war? Who has suffered terribly? What has been the fate of the original landlords, the Gordons? (their son wounded and rendered blind, forced to sell off farms for very little) Does the narrative voice express much sympathy? (no)
58. What sense of history and ethics are conveyed in Robert Colquohon's final sermon at the Standing Stones? What is the form of the new memorial which has been erected, and is this fitting? (a cairn rather than a conventional neo-classical memorial more fitting for Scotland)
59. What is significant about the change in ministers? (the minister has a new and reformist perspective, speaks for the author) Why is is appropriate that his elegy be conducted there?
60. What claims does he make about the men who have died and the hope for the future? (is pointedly anti-capitalist, dislikes the present post-war values but hopes their will be a rise of something better, which he connects to the folk culture of those now dead in the war)
61. What seem to be some of the book's underlying values? Is it a hopeful or a pessimistic book?
62. What would you describe as the novel's view of history and time? (cyclical and progressive) Of its portrayal of its female protagonist? (woman as survivor, not directly political or rhetorical although she generally favors correct values -- e. g., she isn't pro-war, not capitalistic)
63. How is the novel affected by its choice of female protagonist? (sense of enduring more than affecting events of history--emphasizes cyclical patterns of birth, labor, death, and regeneration)
64. Is the reader surprised by the depiction of Chris's acceptance of a new partner?
65. What qualification does she state in accepting his proposal? (a part of her is buried with Ewan) What is the effect of the fact that we learn of this development through third-person accounts? (blurs startling nature of new development)
66. What function does this development have in anticipating the future plot? (permits a new stage of the trilogy; they move to the city for his urban mission)