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The Lightkeepers Discussion Guide: Home

Dana Spiotta

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Discussion Questions

(From litlovers.)

1. Describe Farallon: the weather, animal populations (birds, sharks, and rodents), its stream, even the granite bed rock. In what way does the archipelago itself become a character rather than simply a setting in the novel? Also, consider Farallon's history, as well as how it got its epithet— "Island of the Dead."

2. Follow up to Question #1: If you are familiar with the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds(based on a Daphne du Maurier short story), what are some of the parallels between the film andThe Lightkeepers?

3. How would you describe Miranda? Why, for instance, is the isolation of the Farallon Islands suited to her personality? How does she eventually find her way out of her seclusion? In other words, how does she change by the novel's end?

4. Talk about the letters Miranda writes to her mother. What purpose do they serve in the story, and what do they reveal about Miranda (both the fact that she writes them and the content of the letters themselves)?

5. Miranda's relationship with her fellow housemates has "the dynamic of a family, minus any semblance of warmth." How would you describe the various characters in that "family"—Andrew and Lucy, Galen, Mick, Forest, and Charlene—and their relationships with one another?

6. Miranda finds comfort, even relief, from the others in the natural world of Farallon. What are some of the connections she makes with creatures. How does she come to view the biologists and their relationship to nature? What effect do their studies have on island life?

7. Were you surprised by the novel's climax? Do you find it somewhat implausible? If so, does it detract from your enjoyment of the novel?

8. What is the derivation of the book's title—The Lightkeepers. Who, in the novel, are the eggers and who are the lightkeepers?

9. Is there an underlying message within the book? What major issues are raised?

10. Bonus question: For Shakespeare lovers: Miranda's name?

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