1. Can you imagine which aspects of Chris's life or of this novel might have been autobiographical?
2. Why may the Paisley Express have condemned the novel's "unredeemed close-packed filth, meanness, spite, brutality, lying squalor and stupidity"?
3. What does Mrs. Munro suggest when she comes to help with the funeral? Why are her opinions upsetting?
4. What are some notable aspects of Chris' relationship to her father? What roles does she assume after her mother's death?
5. How does she respond to her father's advances? To his death?
6. What is Will's relationship to his father after his mother's death? What are the circumstances of his courtship? How does he leave home, and what are his regrets?
7. What events precipate 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?
9. How do Chae and Long Rob react to John Guthrie's death? What has been the relationship of the neigboring families?
10. How does the novel portray religion and its ministers? What are John Guthrie's religious views?
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? (74-75)
12. What is unusual about John Guthrie's will? Why do you think he disinherited his three sons?
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?
14. What are Chris's first sexual encounters?
15. Under what circumstances does she meet Ewan Tavendale, and what seems the nature of their relationship?
16. What use is made of the epithet "tink" throughout?
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) 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. What motivates Chris's marriage to Ewan Tavendale? How is their courtship presented?
26. Who helps Chris prepare for the wedding? What thoughts does she have on her wedding night? (146, 161)
27. What are some important features of the wedding scene? The toasts? (157) The advice given? (162)
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 do the couple have in common, and how do they differ? Are they happy? 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?
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?
33. What is the minister's response to war? His motivation? (194)
34. Which men of the region go to war, and what are their fates? (e. g. Gordon Jr., Will, Chae, Rob, Ewan)
35. What motivates Ewan to leave his family for war? Why do the other men in the district enlist? Do you think the author believes these motives adequate or wise?
36. What effect does the war have on Kinraddie and its surrounding regions?
37. Why is Chae troubled at the cutting of the woods? What happens to the farms as a result? (202)
38. 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?
39. What happens to Rob's livelihood after his imprisonment for refusing to fight? How does he react to the gang of men who harrass him? (196) 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?
41. On which subjects do Will and Chris differ? Why doesn't Will wish to return to Scotland? (216) How does Chris react to this?
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?
44. What do you think motivates his rough behavior? What is sad about his leavetaking? (228)
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?
45. Do you think the novel is effective in conveying an inner consciousness?
46. What roles are played by Mistress Melon and John Brigson? Does Chris have many women friends?
47. What changes in the songs heard and sung are brought about by the war? 231 What kind of song had Rob especially liked?
48. 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?
49. How does Chris learn the news of Ewan's death, and what are her first responses? (236) How does she react to those who tell her that her husband has died a hero?
50. What does she learn from Chae about the circumstances under which her husband died? 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?
51. Why does Rob leave for war? (232) In what context do they have sex?
52. 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?
53. 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"?
54. What do we learn in the "epilude" about the fate of Kinraddie after the war?
55. What sense of history and ethics are conveyed in Robert Colquohon's final sermon at the Standing Stones? Why is is appropriate that his elegy be conduced there?
56. What seem to be some of the book's underlying values? Is it a hopeful or a pessimistic book?