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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

From the Mouth of the Whale

1. How is Jónas Pálmason the Learned affected by the promises of Christianity and the power of the Virgin Mary?

2. What do the sandpiper and the other seabirds bring to Jónas on Gullbjörn’s Island? How do they serve as more than his muses?

3. Ultimately, what made Jónas so threatening to the “serpent brothers”?

4. What is at the root of the Reverend Sigurdur Pétursson’s madness? How is his community affected by his choice of fire as his favorite way to purge?

5. Is “Wizard-Láfi” Thórólfur Thórdarson effective as he wages war on ghosts?

6. What did you discover about Icelandic history as Jónas recounted the interactions with Spanish and Basque mariners?

7. How does Jónas make peace with the death of Sigrídur “Sigga” Thórólfsdóttir and their children? Is he living in world where religion offers any solace?

8. Discuss the closing scene. How is it different from other whale tales you’ve read?

From the Mouth of the Whale
by Sjón

  • Publication Date: April 30, 2013
  • Genres: Family, Literary
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN-10: 0374159033
  • ISBN-13: 9780374159030