- What does the subtitle suggest about this book’s contents? What do you make of the author’s dream, as given in the Preface?
- What are some dominant themes of Refuge? How are they arranged so that they seem related?
- Howare the assumptions of this book related to the views of deep ecology? social ecology? ecofeminism? radical ecology?
- What are untraditional features of the book’s arrangment and organization? Are these effective for its themes?
- What are some characteristics of Terry Tempest Williams’ style?
- What are unusual features of the Great Salt Lake? Which of its features seem especially important to this book?
- What seems the tone of the opening? Which descriptions seem to convey a sense of ominousness or threat?
- What does the author tell us about herself and her family?
- What happens to the burrowing owls? How does the author express her anger?
- What is significant about her girlhood trip to the bird refuge?
- Why do you think the author reserves the topic of her mother’s cancer until the second chapter?
- How is the discovery of her mother’s cancer presented? How does her mother react to the news of her illness?
- What is memorable about her memory of mother and children at the Great Salt Lake?
- What details are given of the mother’s surgery? How are her problems reflected in the surrounding nature?
- What happens during the chemotherapy? The flooding?
- What is the narrator’s response to snowy egrets?
- What meaning does the narrator ascribe to the death of the barn swallow? (53) How is the swallow related to her meditations on childbirth and mothering?
- What is Williams’ opinion of starlings? Why does she compare them to humans? (56)
- Why have their numbers grown so startlingly? What contrasting value does she see in the peregrine falcon?
- How does the narrator relate the difficulties of draining the lake and the tale of her mother’s cancer?
- What does the Parks worker think of the task of draining the lake?
- What is the narrator’s response to the gulls? With which happy past events have they been associated?
- What setback has happened in the cancer saga?
- What seems the significance of the title? Why is there no discussion of ravens? What memories are evoked by the Saltaire Pavilion?
- What is important about the letter the narrator’s mother writes to a younger friend who underwent brain tumor surgery?
- How does she show her empathy for a threatened part of the earth? (85)
- What associations do pink flamingos have for the narrator?
- What symbolism does the lake have for the narrator in winter?
- What is unusual about the finding of a snow bunting at the Refuge by the narrator and her mother?
- What seems the reason for including the letter from Tamra to Mrs. Tempest?
- What is the significance of the final paragraph about gemstones and the eyes of birds?