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The Turtle Catcher
by Helget, Nicole
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1. The structure of The Turtle Catcher is not exactly linear; the book opens with Lester's death. Did you feel differently reading about Lester's murder at the end of the book than you did at the beginning? Did the crime seem more, or less, heinous to you after you knew the story and these characters?

2. We see a long history of vigilantism in New Germany, not only after the war by from the town's inception. Where are some examples of vigilantism in the book? what are the dangers of vigilante justice? Have you ever taken the law into your own hands?

3. "Drowning was peaceful." "It is a mercy what we did to him" (p.12, 18). These are among the ways the boys justify what they did to Lester. Where can you find other justifications of violence in this book? Are the justifications ever valid?

4. When describing the history of Maggie and Frieda's family in Germany, we learn that Frieda had an uncle she was close to who was a tansvestite. Do you think the author meant to imply that Liesel's hermaphrodism was hereditary?

5. "Magdalena had intense, contradictory feelings for the girl: repulsion, love, hate, guilt, shame, affection. Mostly fear" (p. 57). Can you imagine having such a tange of feelings for your child? How do you think her mother's feelings toward her affected Liesel?

6. When World War I broke out in Europe, the United States was officially neutral. But in immigrant communities like New Germany, the was doesn't seem so far away. Do you sympathize with the conflicted loyalties of the citizens of New Germany?

7. Before the United States enters the wat, Sutter sends some of his sons to enlist in the Canadian army. What are his reasons for doing this? What do you think are the motivations for soldiers to enlist? Do these motivations complicate the ethics of war?

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