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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The River Beyond the World

1. The title of the novel, The River Beyond the World, holds many meanings. What do you think Peery had in mind with the phrase, "Beyond the World?" Is it a religious reference to heaven, or does she refer to something much more material?

2. So much of this book concerns entrances and exits, death being balanced by life. What other themes balance each other throughout the story?

3. What advantage, if any, does Luisa gain by being submissive to Eddie throughout their relationship? Is it merely a question of remaining morally superior, of rebelling, or does she gain something more deeply valuable?

4. Besides the Texas/Mexico border, what other lines and boundaries exist in the novel? How do they deepen one's understanding of character?

5. Luisa originally leaves Mexico after being impregnated in a fertility ritual. By remaining in the Hatch household, away from her own culture, does her life grow more or less fertile?

6. The novel is told from three pints of view, Antonia's, Eddie's, and Luisa's. How does this storytelling method enrich the experience of the novel? What do we as readers learn from hearing the differences in these three voices?

7. It could be argued that place acts as a character in this novel. What sort of character would that be -- benevolent, malicious, mercurial, male or female? What other novels can you think of that use place in the same way?

8. What role, if any, does Antonia play in her mother's redemption? Are there any parallels with her own mother's adolescence?

The River Beyond the World
by Janet Peery

  • Publication Date: September 15, 1997
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Picador
  • ISBN-10: 0312169868
  • ISBN-13: 9780312169862