The Barbarian Parade, or: Pursuit of the Un-American Dream
by Kirby Gann
(from the Readers Guide included in the Hill Street Press first printing)
- Gabriel refers to his parents as Olive and Ray, not Mom and Dad. How does this relationship with his parents affect his own identity?
- Gabriel spends more time describing the events of his past than his feelings about those events. The author presents the reader with the events in a straightforward and objective manner. Is the narrator/author inviting the reader to judge the characters with this style of presentation? What are the authors intentions in writing this story as opposed to Gabriels intentions in telling it? What does Gabriel want you to think about his mother, his father, and his life?
- Rather than thank God for saving my fathers life, I felt as though He had saved him simply to take him away, and I resented it [page 37]. What does Gabriel believe are the reasons for his fathers survival from the parachute incident and the train accident? What does the author suggest is Rays purpose for surviving these accidents? What does the author suggest is Rays purpose for going to jail? How do these incidents improve Gabriel and Rays relationship overall?
- As he dropped us off ... I was already subtracting the four days we would be apart. It seemed like trying to imagine four days when I would not exist [page 38]. Gabriel also states, what use would anyone have for me, if they did not want Ray? [page 38]. Why does Gabriel feel that his own existence and identity depend on his fathers? Is Ray really the innocent, idealistic father that Gabriel believes him to be?
- What is Gabriels exposure and relationship to God before Rays arrest? How does this change after the arrest? Does Ray comfort his children with the correct approach by using Isaiah 54:13? What does the appearance of this passage predict about the ending of the narrative?
- Does Gabriel suggest that the events of his childhood led him to have an affair with Catherine? Or would any teenage boy act the same in that situation? Is Olive justified in throwing him out of the house?
- After reading Parts I and II of The Barbarian Parade, how did you predict the relationship between Gabriel and Olive would end? What evidence from the text do you have to support this prediction?
- What meanings do the title and subtitle bring to Gabriels story? What do they suggest about Gabriels coming-of-age process? What is the author trying to convey about a childs classic movement from innocence to experience?
- The strange thing about love, which we like to think is all about unspoken understandings, is in that specific amount of our lives that we hold back from our lovers. Its necessary [page 159]. What does Mies mean when he says this to Gabriel? What does this quote explain about Gabriels relationships with the ones he loves (Ray, Olive, Michael, Emily, etc.)?
- After Ray returns home from jail, he points out Gabriels failure to post a flag on Eagle Point. Throughout the book, Gabriel never seems to be able to reach his goals due to lifes disasters. Is Gabriel actually lucky the way Emily suggests, or is he an unfortunate youth bound by the limits of fate? What is the author finally trying to assert about lifes challenges?
- Gabriel asks the reader, who remembers those who never enter History but live domestic, small, private lives? No one. It is for this reason that we invented Heaven. Why does Gabriel believe that his life is unimportant? What does the author suggest is important about Gabriels life?