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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

A Hole in the Universe

1. What is the significance of Gordon remaining mute about the events that put him in prison? Why does he refuse to ease anyone's mind when he is questioned on the subject?

2. Discuss how you initially reacted to each of the characters and how your perception changed as their flaws and gifts were further revealed.

3. Gordon thinks of Delores: "Her charity was earthy and promiscuous. She had done it not for the girl's sake or his, but for her own. In helping others, she was pleasuring herself" (p. 178). How accurate do you think Gordon's statement is?

4. For Gordon, "It was vital that the few people in his life stay the same, to be who he needed them to be. He felt betrayed" (p. 148). How much of Gordon's powerful reaction to his brother's relationship with Jilly is based on the above statement and how much do you think it is simply an ethical response?

5. Why is Gordon so hard on all the people in his life? What in his history causes him to have little flexibility in his understanding of people's behavior?

6. There are various points in the novel in which each character's trajectory could have taken a different turn. Discuss different moments in the novel in which slight changes could have led to an entirely different result.

7. Could Dennis and Lisa's marriage have survived without Gordon's intervention? Are lies ever acceptable in marriage?

8. When Gordon pondered Delores's affair, he thought, "Acceptance was the greater struggle. Forgiveness was words, an easy chant to numb the sin, until with time the loss no longer really mattered or deserved its raw place in the heart" (p. 275). Why is it so difficult for Gordon to accept others' flaws? What is he saying about forgiveness? Why does he need to maintain that "raw place" in his heart? Are there some actions that are simply not forgivable?

9. Where do you see Gordon, Delores, and Jada five years later?

10. In real life, how would you react to Gordon? Do you think it's possible that you could understand and relate to someone like him, beyond the safety of a book cover?

A Hole in the Universe
by Mary McGarry Morris

  • Publication Date: March 8, 2004
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0670032883
  • ISBN-13: 9780670032884