Gathering Dark
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1. What is the meaning of the novel's title? What does "Gathering of Waters" mean within the context of the book?

2. Discuss the importance of water as a symbol in the novel. What does water have in common with the life, both literally and metaphorically?

3. Why did the author choose to have the town (Money) narrate the story? Did this help or hinder the story? How would the story have been different with a third person narrator?

4. What are the purposes and effects of the story's fantastic and magical elements? How does the fantastic operate in the characters' everyday lives and personalities? How is the magical interwoven with elements drawn from history?

5. What varieties of love occur in the novel? Does any kind of love transcend or transform the ravages of everyday life, history, and time itself?

6. The novel deals with the adverse effects of white racism on the black population. What themes are explored through these interactions?

7. In the classic epic multigenerational novel, several pivotal scenes define the basic character of the entire work. Which scenes in Gathering of Waters best exemplify its core themes? What are those core themes?

8. Bernice McFadden's decision to not only re-create the days preceding Emmett Till's murder, but also include a love interest by using the format of a historical novel is her artistic response to the tragedy. Does her artistic decision work for you?

9. In Gathering of Waters, McFadden re-creates, in vivid scenes, two incidents of racially motivated hate crimes. Which incidents stayed with you the most powerfully? Why?

10. What does Gathering of Waters as a whole, suggest about the relationships among history, family, race, and gender? How are the individuals in the novel affected by these larger forces? What does the novel reveal about the particular historical moment in which it is set?



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