It’s a Midwest style bookclub! We will be meeting once a week to discuss books that later became movies. Come and sit and chat for an hour and at the end of the month we will watch the film on which the movie was based.
First Book to read during the month of August:
"Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" by Fannie Flagg"
Here is a list of questions to prompt discussion during our meeting.
Week One Questions:
- This novel has a very complex structure alternating between the past and the present and the point of view of a whole host of different characters. Did this narrative format work for you? Were there particular narrators you found more compelling than others and why?
- Idgie and Ruth's friendship is truly a case of opposites attract. Why is the scene where Idgie reveals her bee charming skills to Ruth so pivotal to the story of their relationship and in understanding what drew them together despite their differences?
- This novel has a great deal to say about race relations in the South. How did the black and white communities interact in this story both within and beyond the borders of Whistle Stop? Were Idgie and Ruth's egalitarian views on race typical?
- What is Artis Peavey's secret? Do you think the events he witnessed as a child had an impact upon his later life? How does race have an impact upon the lives of all the Peavey children--Jasper, Artis, Willie Boy, Naughty Bird? What options were available to them and what choices did they make and why? What do you think of the revenge that Artis takes on the man who murdered his brother?
- Do you think the color of Jasper and Artis' skin--Jasper being very light-skinned and Artis being very dark-skinned--made a difference in their approach to life? What does the light-skinned Clarissa's encounter with her dark-skinned Uncle Artis say about life as a black Southerner?
Week Two Questions:
- How do you feel about a character like Grady Kilgore, Whistle Stop sheriff, member of the Ku Klux Klan, and friend to Idgie and Ruth at the same time?
- Eva Bates is a woman you might call sexually liberated before her time. What role does she play in Idgie's life? In Stump's? What are Ruth's feelings toward Eva?
- We never learn where Ninny came from or how she came to be adopted by the Threadgoodes, only that they took her in and treated her like a member of the family. This is only one example in a novel full of non-traditional families. What are some other examples of familial bonds that do not look like a traditional nuclear family? How does this author challenge and expand our understanding of the meaning and structure of family?
- What drives Idgie to masquerade as Railroad Bill? What role did the economic devastation of the Great Depression play in the lives of Idgie, Ruth, Smokey, and everyone in Whistle Stop
- Did the identity of Frank Bennett's killer surprise you? What drove her to do what she did? Why was Idgie prepared to take the blame?
Week Three Questions:
- What do Dot Weems' weekly dispatches tell us about the nature of life in a small town? Were you sorry to see Whistle Stop fade away? Why has this been the fate of so many small towns in America?
- Ninny tells Evelyn that her memories are all she has left. Discuss the importance of memory and storytelling in this novel.
- Why and how was Evelyn able to finally overcome her revenge fantasies, send Towanda packing and make important changes in her life? What steps did she take that ensured these changes would be for good and not a temporary thing
- How does this story explore the process of aging? How do we die with dignity when all those we loved and who loved us are gone? How does Ninny manage?
- The importance of food in the fabric of everyday life is a central theme in this book. For example, Evelyn and Mrs. Threadgoode bond over the treats Evelyn brings. What does Evelyn's battle with her weight say about contemporary society and women's relationships with food and their weight? Are these struggles evident in the lives if Ninny, Idgie, or Ruth?
- In the final chapter, we learn what has happened to Idgie. Why do you think she and Julian left Whistle Stop to take to the road? Why don't their friends or family appear to know where they are? Does this seem like an appropriate ending for Idgie?
Week Four- Short Discussion and Watch the Movie (Movie Night may run late)
Which character would you be most interested in meeting and why?