About KET | TV Schedules | Programs A-Z | Explore by Topic | Support KET  
Arts | Education | Health | Kentucky | Kids & Families | Public Affairs  
TV Schedule Book List News by e-Mail About bookclub@ket
Back to bookclub@ket bookclub@ket
July 2005
The Barbarian Parade, or: Pursuit of the Un-American Dream
by Kirby Gann

Discussion Questions

(from the Reader’s Guide included in the Hill Street Press first printing)

  1. Gabriel refers to his parents as Olive and Ray, not Mom and Dad. How does this relationship with his parents affect his own identity?

  2. 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 author’s intentions in writing this story as opposed to Gabriel’s intentions in telling it? What does Gabriel want you to think about his mother, his father, and his life?

  3. “Rather than thank God for saving my father’s 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 father’s survival from the parachute incident and the train accident? What does the author suggest is Ray’s purpose for surviving these accidents? What does the author suggest is Ray’s purpose for going to jail? How do these incidents improve Gabriel and Ray’s relationship overall?

  4. “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 father’s? Is Ray really the innocent, idealistic father that Gabriel believes him to be?

  5. What is Gabriel’s exposure and relationship to God before Ray’s 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?

  6. 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?

  7. 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?

  8. What meanings do the title and subtitle bring to Gabriel’s story? What do they suggest about Gabriel’s coming-of-age process? What is the author trying to convey about a child’s classic movement from innocence to experience?

  9. “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. It’s necessary” [page 159]. What does Mies mean when he says this to Gabriel? What does this quote explain about Gabriel’s relationships with the ones he loves (Ray, Olive, Michael, Emily, etc.)?

  10. After Ray returns home from jail, he points out Gabriel’s failure to post a flag on Eagle Point. Throughout the book, Gabriel never seems to be able to reach his goals due to life’s 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 life’s challenges?

  11. 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 Gabriel’s life?

bookclub@ket | TV Schedule | Book List | News by e-Mail | About bookclub | Contact Us

KET Home | About KET | Contact Us | Search | Terms of Use
Jobs/Internships | PressRoom | Privacy Policy |
600 Cooper Drive | Lexington, KY 40502 | (859) 258-7000 | (800) 432-0951 | © Copyright 2011 KET

Privacy Policy Copyright © 2008 KET Webmaster