Dance for the Dead
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1. What is the meaning of the title? Discuss the theme of dancing and identify where it appears in the story.

2. Discuss Dylan's attitudes toward education and teaching in the novel. How and why do they change?

3. How is the South portrayed in this novel? What scenes best illuminate the setting?

4. After eating breakfast with Amos at Ira's Cafe, Dylan realizes that he has not thought about Maggie for forty-five minutes. Overwhelming guilt descends upon him. Why do you think he felt so guilty?

5. What role does Bryce Kai MacGregor --- the naked, bag-pipe playing, movie-loving millionaire --- play in this story?

6. What roles do Dylan's students play in his life? Why is it significant that Koy is such a poor communicator in person but such an articulate poet and letter-writer? How does the students' plagiarism mirror Dylan's inner conflict?

7. When Dylan tells Amos, "I see colors, not structure," how does this statement summarize the differences between the two men? How do their personalities complement each other?

8. Describe Dylan's faith. How do his interactions with Pastor John and the AME church, including communion and baptism, affect him? How does his faith journey compare to your own?

9. Dylan says, "I drive an old pickup because I understand it." How does this statement characterize Dylan? When he purchases a used truck from Jake's Jalopy Auto Center in Walterboro, why does he offer Jake more money than the truck is worth?

10. Dylan explains, "The Salkehatchie is mythical. Everybody knows the stories. . . . If you can think it, it's probably already been mythified." Why is it significant that the violent coon hunt takes place in "the Salk"? What impact does the hunt have on Dylan?

11. Though Maggie stays in a coma for most of the novel, how does her character generate a "presence of absence"? By the end of the novel, do you think the relationship between Dylan and Maggie has changed? If so, how?

12. After years of hard work, Dylan walked away from the tenure track of teaching due to disillusionment. Have you ever put years into something only to find it wasn't what you thought?

13. After catching Russell, Allen, Eugene, and Marvin cheating, Dylan decides to morph the situation into a life teaching moment. Have you had teachers do the same for you? How?

14. Dylan says, "I drive an old pickup because I understand it." Is your car a reflection of you? In what ways? If not, what car would be a reflection of you and why?

15. After eating five biscuits with Amos, Dylan realizes that he has not thought of Maggie for 45 minutes. Overwhelming guilt descends upon him. Why do you think he felt so guilty?

16. Dylan repeatedly tells us how much he misses the sound of Maggie's voice. If the love of your life, or someone you are extremely close to, were in a coma, what would you miss most? Why?

17. What purpose do you think Bryce Kai MacGregor (the naked, bag-pipe playing, movie-loving millionaire) plays to the story? Are there characters like him in your hometown?

18. How did you feel about Amanda and her pregnancy before you found out that it was a result of rape? How did you feel after?

* Some questions from Reading Group Guides.

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