Flight Behavior Discussion Guide: Home
Photo courtesy of the author's official website.
Her biography is available at Biography in Context. (Sign in with library card number to access).
Articles, Interviews, and Reviews
- The Butterfly EffectThe New York Times, November 9, 2012
- 'Flight Behavior' Weds Issues To A Butterfly NarrativeNPR Books, November 6, 2012
- Review: Barbara Kingsolver's got the Red State blues in 'Flight Behavior'Los Angeles Times, November 4, 2012
- Barbara Kingsolver on Flight Behavior and Why Climate Change Is Part of Her StoryTIME, November 8, 2012
- Barbara Kingsolver Sets a FireInterview Magazine, 2012
- Barbara Kingsolver: 'Motherhood is so sentimentalised in our culture'The Guardian, May 11, 2013
Other Books by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Lacuna byISBN: 9780060852573Publication Date: 2009An epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.
- Prodigal Summer byISBN: 9780060199654Publication Date: 2000Life as a forensic psychologist isn't quite as cool as it looks on prime-time TV. But with her birthday approaching and no current prospects for fulfilling her dream of having a family, Amanda Bell Brown decides to get out and paint the town--in her drop-dead red birthday dress. Instead, she finds herself at the scene of a crime, and she just may know who the killer is. She needs to spill her guts, but not on the handsome lead detective's alligator shoes--especially if she wants him to ask her out. A complicated murder investigation unearths a closet full of skeletons Amanda thought were long gone.
- The Poisonwood Bible byISBN: 9780060175405Publication Date: 1998The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. Their passionately intertwined stories become a compelling exploration of moral risk and personal responsibility. Taking its place alongside the classic works of postcolonial literature, this ambitious novel establishes Kingsolver as one of the most thoughtful and daring of modern writers.
- Pigs in Heaven byISBN: 9780062277763Publication Date: 1993When six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, her insistence on what she has seen and her mother's belief in her lead to a man's dramatic rescue. But Turtle's moment of celebrity draws her into a conflict of historic proportions. The crisis quickly envelops not only Turtle and her mother, Taylor, but everyone else who touches their lives in a complex web connecting their future with their past. Pigs in Heaven travels the roads from rural Kentucky and the urban Southwest to Heaven, Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation as it draws the reader into a world of heartbreak and redeeming love, testing the boundaries of family and the many separate truths about the ties that bind.
- Animal Dreams byISBN: 9780062278500Publication Date: 1990Dreamless and at the end of her rope, Codi comes back to Grace, Arizona, to confront her past and face her ailing, distant father. What she finds is a town threatened by a silent environmental catastrophe, some startling clues to her own identity, and a man whose view of the world could change the course of her life. Blending flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends, Animal Dreams is a suspenseful love story and a moving exploration of life's largest commitments.
- The Bean Trees byISBN: 9780060175795Publication Date: 1988A warmhearted and highly entertaining first novel in which a poor but plucky Kentucky girl . . . arrives at surprising new meanings for love, friendship, and family.
Videos about Flight Behavior
1. What is the significance of the novel's title? Talk about the imagery of flight. How is it represented throughout the story?
2. How do the chapter titles relate both to scientific concepts as well as the events that unfold within each chapter itself?
3. Describe Dellarobia. How is she of this mountain town in Tennessee and how is she different from it? How are she and her family connected to the land and to nature itself? How are they disconnected? How does this shape their viewpoints? How does she describe herself? Do you agree with her self-assessment?
4. Talk about the characters names—Dellarobia, Preston, Cordelia, Dovey, Ovid Byron, Cub, Bear, Hester. How does the author's choice of nomenclature suit her characters? When you first meet these characters, including Pastor Bobby, what were your first impressions? Were your notions about them challenged as the story progressed?
5. Describe the small town in Tennessee where Dellarobia lives. What are the people like? Are they familiar to you? What is everyday life like for them? What are their major joys and concerns? How you strike a balance between protecting nature when your livelihood depends upon its destruction?
6. Talk about Della's relationships with the various people in her life: Cub, Hester, Pastor Bobby, Dovey, Ovid Byron. What do her experiences teach her about herself and life?
7. How does Della react when she first sees the Monarchs? What greater meaning do the butterflies hold for her? How is she like the butterflies? How does finding them transform her life? Were the butterflies a miracle?
8. As news of her discovery spreads, what are the reactions of her in-laws and her neighbors? How do they view Della? What are their impressions of the scientists and tourists who descend upon their remote town?
9. What does Dellarobia think about her new friends, and especially Ovid Byron? What about the scientists—how do they view people like Della, her family, and her neighbors? Does either side see they other realistically?
10. Cub and his father, Bear, want to sell the patch of forest where the Monarchs are to a lumber company for clear-cutting. What ramifications would this have, not only for the butterflies but for Della's family and her town? Why is it often difficult for people see the long-term effects of their immediate actions? Cub doesn't consider conserving nature to be his problem. What might you say to convince him otherwise?
11. Though she may not have a formal education beside her high school diploma, would you call Dellarobia wise? Where does her knowledge come from? Is she religious? Their Christian faith is very important to many of her neighbors. How does Barbara Kingsolver portray religion, faith, and God in the novel? What are your impressions of Pastor Bobby?
12. Della tells Ovid that...
Kids in Feathertown wouldn't know college-bound from a hole in the ground. They don't need it for life around here. College is kind of irrelevant.
Why isn't college important to these people? Should it be? Would you say the people of Feathertown respect education? Why is faith and instinct enough for some people? When she explained this to Ovid,
His eyes went wide, as if she'd mentioned they boiled local children alive. His shock gave her a strange satisfaction she could not have explained. Insider status, maybe.
Explain her attitude. Yet Dellarobia also believes that, "educated people had powers. What does she mean by this? How does education empower people? Can it also blind them?
13. After Dellarobia's parents died, what options did she have? She wanted to go to school—and did try—she tells Ovid.
People who hadn't been through it would think it was that simple: just get back on the bus, ride to the next stop. He would have no inkling of the great slog of effort that tied up people like her in the day to day. Or the quaking misgivings that infected every step forward, after a loss. Even now, dread still struck her down sometimes if she found herself counting on things being fine. Meaning her now-living children and their future, those things. She had so much more to lose now than just herself or her own plans.
What are the factors that hold back people in Dellarobia's circumstances? How can they be overcome? How is each character's ideas about the future colored by his or her circumstances?
14. Flight Behavior illuminates the conflicting attitudes of different classes towards nature and the idea of climate change. How does each side see this issue? Where do they find common ground? Do you believe in global warming or climate change? Explain the basis of your beliefs. How much do you know about both the proponents and opponents in this debate?
15. Why do so many Americans fear or dislike science? Why do so many others fear or dislike religion? What impact do these attitudes have on the nation now and what do they portend for our future?
16. For Dellarobia...
Nobody truly decided for themselves, there was too much information. What they actually did was scope around, decide who was looking out for their clan, and sign on for the memos on a wide array of topics.
Do you agree that this is a fair assessment of a divided America? How can we get beyond our judgments and stereotypes?
17. How is media both a help and a hindrance in our understanding of social issues? How does it offer clarity and how does it add confusion? How is the media portrayed in Flight Behavior? What impact does it have on Dellarobia and the fate of the butterflies? People are envious that the media pays attention to Dellarobia, yet she says being interviewed was like, "having her skin peeled off." Why are so many people consumed by a desire for fame?
18. Ovid has doubts about his work. He asks Dellarobia:
What was the use of saving a world that had no soul left in it. Continents without butterflies, seas without coral reefs, he meant. What if all human effort amounted basically to saving a place for ourselves to park?
How would you answer him?
19. Flight Behavior interweaves important themes: religion and science, poverty and wealth, education and instinct or faith, intolerance and acceptance, How are these themes used to complement each other and how do they conflict? Choose one theme and trace it throughout the novel, explaining how it illuminates a particular character's life.
20. At the end of the novel, Dellarobia recalls when Ovid Byron first met Preston and declared the boy a scientist.
A moment, Dellarobia now believed, that changed Preston's life. You never knew which split second might be the zigzag bolt dividing all that went before from everything that comes next.
Have you ever had such a defining moment in your life? Was there a special person who influenced you and helped guide or shift the course of your life?
21. What do you think will happen to Dellarobia, Preston, and Cordelia?
22. What did you take away from reading Flight Behavior?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
Reserve or Borrow a Copy
- Flight Behavior byISBN: 9780062124265Publication Date: 2012-11-06
- The Magician's Lie byISBN: 9781402298684Publication Date: 2015-01-13A debut novel in which the country's most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband's murder - and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence. The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden's husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear. But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell.
- Home byISBN: 9780307594167Publication Date: 2012-05-08America's most celebrated novelist, Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison extends her profound take on our history with this twentieth-century tale of redemption: a taut and tortured story about one man's desperate search for himself in a world disfigured by war. A deeply moving novel about an apparently defeated man finding his manhood--and his home.