What do you make of the man in the zoot suit, the apparent ghost that first appears to Frank and, later, his sister? Why do you think he shows up when he does? (See pp. 27, 34, and 144.)
Although her novel is about specific characters whose experiences are rooted in a particular place and time (i.e., African Americans living in the Jim Crow South in the early 1950s), Morrison seems to want to universalize these experiences so that all readers can relate to them. Does she succeed, and if so, how?
Toni Morrison has stated that she wanted to explore the theme of manhood in this novel, especially “what it means for a black man.” What are a few ways in which she develops this theme?
Notwithstanding its crucial theme of manhood, this novel presents a number of compelling female characters, women who are powerful in a number of ways. Who are some of these strong females in the novel, and what common threads unite them? Is it possible to make the case that this is a feminist novel, as much as a “masculist” one?
How does the novel address the issue of putting an end to cycles of abuse? (Consider Frank’s thoughts on p. 27: “He will beat her when they get home, thought Frank. And who wouldn’t?”) Does Frank learn how to absorb or transmute pain, rather than pass it on? Who are his teachers in this?
At one point (p. 53), the narrator explicitly compares Frank and Cee to Hansel and Gretel. In what ways might this and other fairy tales or literary myths help develop the novel’s major themes?
Characters make a number of jokes about the main protagonist’s last name (Money). How is his family name significant thematically? What about his first name? Are there any other names of people or places in the novel that “speak”?
Toward the end of the novel (pp. 133-134), Frank makes a shocking confession about crimes he committed while serving in Korea. What triggers this revelation? What is the effect of our getting this information at this (late) point in the novel? Does this news, and the way it is given, make Frank a more or less sympathetic character for you? If this new information indeed makes him more “relatable” to you, how is this possible?
What is the effect on the reader of the burials that begin and end the novel?
How does the epigraph resonate with the novel’s major themes? (Consider the words, “Whose house is this? … Tell me, why does its lock fit my key?”) What about the “poem” (Chapter Seventeen) that closes the novel? (The tree, although it is “hurt right down the middle,” is “alive and well”; how is this significant?)
Does the structure or form of this novel have thematic significance? Does how the story is told relate to what it is telling?
The publisher’s Reading Group Guide for Home is also an additional resource: