Monday, May 24, 2010

House Rules ~ fourth set of discussion questions

1.  What does a crumpled piece of paper have to do with the story?
2.  How does Theo’s interaction with his father in San Francisco change his attitude toward Henry?  Why does he erupt into laughter when Henry offers him a few twenty-dollar bills?  Is the short trip also a turning point for Emma?
3.  "You’re either a father twenty-four/seven or not at all" (p. 448).  Is Emma being fair to Henry?  What does House Rules have to say about parenthood and its responsibilities?
4.  The final case study in the book — "Case 11: My Brother’s Keeper" — outlines the events that occurred in the course of the novel.  It ends with a single line:  "I’d do it all over again" (p. 531).  Does this line reveal anything new about Jacob?  Does it change your feelings toward him in any way?
5.  What did you know about autism and AS before reading House Rules?   Did the novel challenge your views on the subject, or on disability more generally?  Is it an educational book?


Bonnie Jacobs said...

Here's your chance to talk about any part of the book. The fourth (and final) set of questions is now posted.

Shirley said...

I thought that the book was educational about AS and autism. I don't know if I learned anything new about it, but it did confirm what I already knew about it.

Jennifer sure amazed me with her early detection work (lots of the remaining read gave me "Aha! Jennifer is absolutely right" moments).

Henry was initially viewed as a villain to me. Although his emotional and physical abandonment of his family still irritates me, I do think that he probably did the best thing by leaving a situation that he couldn't tolerate. At least he did do the right thing in faithfully providing child support. It would have been better for Emma if he would have been there as she raised the boys, but if he was unable at that stage of his life to provide the emotional support it was probably just as well that he did remove himself. From the descriptions of him, it does sound like he had a higher functioning level of AS so it is commendable that he was able to show compassion for the family that he had left.

I also wonder if Emma may have pulled the reins too tight as it did seem that in several instances Jacob was able to cope better than she had anticipate. Of course, the cost of any error made her reluctant to give Jacob more freedom.

Shirley said...

On the news tonight, a graduate was the speaker for his high school class. In spite of his early diagnosis of autism and warning to his parents that he should be institutionalized, he was accepted at all of the colleges he applied for so is being institutionalized after all. His flat voice tone and minimal emotional expression showed, but his success in spite of autism was also very clear. Having recently finished House Rules, hearing him speak was of special interest.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Wow, Shirley, that's interesting, especially the flat tone of delivering his speech. I would have liked to hear him.