Reading Group Guide for Girl in the Arena

  1. Do you see Girl in the Arena as satire, fantasy or realism? Why?
  2. Girl in the Arena tackles topics such as commercialization, violence, and women’s rights. Do you see Lise Haines’s depiction of these themes as a reflection of our current society or as a cautionary tale?
  3. Non-Glad members view Lyn’s lifestyle as crazy or “mad” (p. 185). Do you agree or disagree? If you could create a culture, what sport or game would you base it on?
  4. Allison sees herself as an exemplary Glad Wife and hopes Lyn will one day follow in her footsteps and attend the Glad Wives’ College. What are your thoughts on the GWC?
  5. Lyn sometimes questions “Allison’s work of creative nonfiction” (p. 180), the Glad life within which her mother has submerged both her and Thad. If given the option, would you willingly become part of the Glad culture?
  6. After her dowry bracelet is taken by her stepfather’s murderer, Lyn must choose between marrying Uber or fighting him. If given this ultimatum which would you choose? Can you think of any alternatives?
  7. Controversial laws govern both Glad and non-Glad societies. Are there any laws in our society that you deem as unfair or unjust? What suggestions or changes do you have?
  8. According to the Glad guidelines, “Like an ancient Roman column, the gladiator’s daughter is an essential support, holding up the building of the Glad family” (p. 193). What are Lyn’s strengths? Weaknesses?
  9. Within the context of the novel, there are many misunderstandings and conflicts between Glads and non-Glads. Have you ever had misconceptions about another person’s lifestyle or culture?
  10. Were you surprised by Allison’s suicide? Lyn chooses not to read any of the notes her mother had tried to write before her death. What do you think the letters may have revealed?
  11. Lyn’s family used the Living Machine to generate apparitions of celebrities such as Jackie Onassis. Who would you recreate with the Living Machine?
  12. Allison also used the Living Machine to bring back Tommy. Lyn, however, felt conflicted by this and ultimately decided against keeping the illusion of her dead stepfather in the house. Would you use the Living Machine to bring back a loved one who had passed away? Why or why not?
  13. Thad has the ability to make predictions about the future. If you had this power, would you consider it a gift or a burden? Throughout the story, many of Thad’s predictions were ominous, such as his visions that Tommy would lose his hand and that Lyn would be covered in blood. Would you want to know your future or are some things better left unsaid?
  14. According to GSA history (p 3), Joe Byers introduced neo-gladiator sport to create a new form of safe, athletic competition and hoped to eventually replace military combat. Do you think the Glad culture of Lyn’s time still holds true to these ideals?
  15. If you had the opportunity to interview Joe Byers, what would you ask him?
  16. What do you think will happen to Lyn in the next few years?
  17. If you were to produce a movie of this book, who would you cast as the lead characters?

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