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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Packinghouse Daughter

1. Before you began Packinghouse Daughter, what was your opinion about the work done by laborers in meatpacking plants like Wilson & Co.? Did reading this book change your point of view?

2. "I read 'Ph.D.' as 'Packinghouse Daughter.'... I walk the line between a feisty fidelity to the people of my childhood and a refined repugnance for the work they do." [pg. 10] Why do you think the author chooses to view her academic achievements in terms of her working-class upbringing? How do these forces come into conflict in her memoir?

3. The author refers to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, the famous 1906 novel that chronicles the conditions of a Chicago slaughterhouse, and says that she once aspired to be a "muckraker," or a critic who spurs social reform. Do you think Packinghouse Daughter succeeds in raising concern about the fate of blue collar communities as industries relocate in quest of cheap labor?

4. What techniques of memoir does the author employ in evoking the social milieu of the 1950's in Packinghouse Daughter? Are there any elements that you find unusually effective or poignant?

5. Were you surprised by Governor Freeman's decision to close the Wilson plant to deter violence? What role do you think the government should play in labor disputes?

6. In what way is Packinghouse Daughter a book about class consciousness? What signs does the author interpret as indicators of class? Have notions of class shaped your allegiances, your work, or the way you see the world?

Packinghouse Daughter
by Cheri Register

  • Publication Date: August 21, 2001
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060936843
  • ISBN-13: 9780060936846