READING GROUP GUIDE:
1. Henry sells free Bibles he receives from Bible societies across the country, which he has requested under less-than honest pretenses. Discuss how Henry reconciles his actions with his sense of morality. Does he feel that his actions are acceptable? Do you?
2. From the moment Henry and Preston meet, Henry’s innocence contrasts with the older man’s manipulativeness. Discuss the relationship between these men. How does Henry’s naïveté ultimately allow him to upset Preston’s plans for him? In what ways are the two men similar?
3. Henry’s family is charitable (sending blankets to Yancy), but their church is sometimes harsh (warning the child Henry about being a blasphemer). How does Henry’s uncle Jack help him navigate these contradictions?
4. How do the elderly, especially women, contribute to the comic scenes in The Bible Salesman? Does their unworldliness add to their being funny? Are they similar to Henry in this respect?
5. The biblical characters Abraham, his wife, Sarah, and his mistress, Hagar, intrigue and puzzle Henry. Does his knowing their story make it easier for him to accept his attraction to Marleen Green?
6. Henry’s childhood is revealed gradually in The Bible Salesman, as are the numerous forces that shaped his Christianity — Aunt Dorie, the Bible salesman instructor, and Henry’s church, just to name a few. To what extent does each influence how Henry approaches his faith? How do his beliefs change in the course of the novel?
7. Although Preston initially views Henry as a gullible boy, he eventually realizes that Henry is not as clueless as he thought. How do you see Henry? Did your opinion change as you read? Why and in what ways?
8. Henry’s beloved uncle Jack is ejected from a surfside club as “white trash.” Clearwater feels justified in burglarizing a plantation house owned by rich northerners in Florida. Does class conflict lead to the doctor’s death in Drain, Georgia? Or is Clearwater’s character the sole culprit?
9. In what ways does Henry mature from a child to an adult in the course of the novel? How is he still like a boy at the end? What characters and events infl uence Henry’s growth? Do you think it is possible to maintain a positive outlook such as his in the face of the trials of adulthood?
10. Henry and Preston’s journey through the South is the focus of the novel, but the two men travel in other ways as well. How does movement, in both the physical and psychological sense, cause the characters to change? Do you think Henry would be the man he has become at the end of the novel had he not partnered with Preston?
11. Family reunions play a big part in Henry’s early life. How does the extended family unify the disparate personalities and bloodlines in The Bible Salesman? Does it assuage the facts that Henry’s parents are absent and that his sister’s son looks nothing like his brother-in-law?
12. Did The Bible Salesman inspire you to compare parts of the Hebrew Bible to the King James Version and the Chicago Bible? If so, what differences in interpretations of the text did you find interesting?
*RULES OF THE GIVEAWAY*
- Open to US and Canada Residents ONLY
- No PO Boxes
- All entries MUST be separate and MUST include your email in the form of: yourname (at)domain (dot)com (*eliminates spam)
- Entries must be in by 6pm EST on October 3rd.
+1 entry for following my blog(tell me how, either through google friend connect or Networked Blogs)
+2 entries for referring a friend to follow my blog (your friend must tell me how they follow AND mention your name
+1 entry if you repost this the link to this contest somewhere (twitter, blogspot, facebook, etc) and send me the link
+1 entry for leaving a comment