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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Three Bargains

1. It could be argued that Madan exchanges one violent, dangerous father for another. What do Prabhu and Avtaar Singh’s violent tendencies have in common? How are they different? In the end, can it truly be said that Avtaar Singh is a better father to Madan than was Prabhu? Compare the ways in which each one is better and worse.

2. Madan is attracted to Neha’s idealism and rebelliousness. At the same time, he himself can’t afford to be idealistic or rebellious --- and, in the end, neither can she. How does their relationship affect each of their ideas about what’s possible, for themselves and for their world?

3. How would you characterize Madan’s relationship to violence as a young man? Do you think he deems it a necessary evil? An ordinary part of life? Why is he so willing to hurt people at the behest of his father figure?

4. Twice over the course of THREE BARGAINS Madan meets an older man who gives him an opportunity. What is it about him that so impresses Avtaar Singh and Ketan-bhai? How has Madan changed from when he firsts meets Avtaar Singh to when he gets to know Ketan-bhai? In what important ways does he stay the same?

5. Over the course of the novel, Madan will have two father figures, two romantic relationships, and two children. How does he grow and change from one relationship to the next? What is the significance of second chances in THREE BARGAINS? Can we ever truly start over in life?

6. How do you understand Durga’s feelings toward her son when Madan returns to his family? Why is she angry? Are you sympathetic with her, or do you think her fury is unfounded? Why was it so easy for Jaggu and Swati to forgive Madan, and so difficult for Durga?

7. Do you think that Madan’s feelings of guilt and helplessness over his inability to protect his sister, Swati, affect his relationship years later with his son, Arnav? If so, how?

8. Describe the character of Preeti. What do you think causes her to forgive Madan in the end? Would you have been able to forgive him?

9. Madan’s childhood ambitions --- to learn English, to help his family and himself --- are purely motivated, whereas his adult ambitions --- to become wealthy, to build Jeet Megacity --- are perhaps more complex. How do you think the novel characterizes ambition in the end? Have you ever become so intent on a project --- as Madan does with Jeet Megacity --- that you lose track of your other values and priorities?

10. Does love ultimately conquer disparities in wealth and class? Why or why not?

Three Bargains
by Tania Malik

  • Publication Date: August 11, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • ISBN-10: 0393063402
  • ISBN-13: 9780393063400