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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Hunting Midnight

1. What themes of freedom and oppression are represented by this time period? Was Napoleon's revolution comparable to America's? Is John able to establish any sense of national identity as a child?

2. What historical details surprised you, especially regarding Portugal and Africa? Did any of your ancestors experience scenarios similar to the ones portrayed Hunting Midnight?

3. What parallels and distinctions can be made between Western Europe's role in oppressing Jews and Africans? What mind-set made these pogroms possible?

4. Do John and Violeta arrive in America through the traditional immigrant experience? How did Midnight influence America after he was kidnapped and forced to live in the States?

5. What is John's attitude toward the many losses he has suffered? How does his perception of grief and suffering compare to yours?

6. Besides the visual association with darkness, what other meanings can be derived from Midnight's name, especially in terms of time and the natural order of life?

7. Are Midnight's healing powers limited to physical ailments? In what sense is he like a contemporary physician? In what sense is he like a warrior? Is he able to heal himself?

8. How does John evolve throughout the novel? What changes did you observe in him as he progresses from childhood to adulthood?

9. Discuss the novel's initial scenes, particularly those involving Daniel and the efforts to free the birds. To what extent do these introductory characters and events enhance your reading of Hunting Midnight? Do they predict the outcome of the novel or do they make it ironic?

10. How would you have advised John's father to address the issue of his wife's infidelity? What does the affair with Midnight indicate about the emotional hierarchies of both men?

11. In what ways does John's Scottish ancestry complement that of his mother? What entity has the greatest amount of social control in John's life?

12. What is the effect of the varying points of view introduced in Part II? Why might the author have used chapter titles only for scenes narrated by Morri?

13. How does Morri compare to the other female characters, both in terms of personality and life experience?

14. What approaches to parenting are presented in the novel? Does John follow in his father's footsteps or take a new path? How is Midnight able to remain central to his daughter's life?

15. Discuss the role of religion and spirituality in the novel. In what or whom do the primary characters place their faith? Who are the novel's most "faithful" characters? Who are its most godless ones?

16. How might the wisdom of Midnight, particularly the inspiration he derives from the animal world, improve our modern lives?

Hunting Midnight
by Richard Zimler

  • Publication Date: April 27, 2004
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Delta
  • ISBN-10: 0385336470
  • ISBN-13: 9780385336475