5. How were Jake and Arthur affected by their family dynamic? Did their mother pamper Jake too much? Did their father favor Arthur because he was easier to manage, or was Jake difficult to manage because of his father’s favoritism?
6. How are the characters shaped by the novel’s setting? What do the natural surroundings of the town mean to them? What separates those who want to escape from those who bask in the town’s familiarity?
7. Take a look at the men's relationships with their mothers. As a pre-schooler, Arthur "already knew that his mother's happiness depended on Jake's well-being" (p. 28), while school-boy Jake "had great confidence in his mother's ability to win arguments on his behalf" (p. 36). Ian's opinion of his mother shortly before she left was that she "had two moods nowadays, absent or annoyed, and whichever one she was in he invariably found he preferred the other" (p. 13). What do these relationships look like to you?
8. Quote something from the book that captured your attention, and tell us what you thought of it.
9. Can you relate to any of the characters? In what way?