Between Two Eternities > Reading Group Questions
Suggested Questions for Discussion
- Between Two Eternities is the love story of a marriage, told from the husband's viewpoint. How do you feel about this? Were you able to relate to Robert and his love for Marcie? Did their relationship seem realistic? Why or why not?
- How would you describe Marcie? Do you like her? Does she move you in the same way Robert does?
- Is the way Robert and Marcie react to the problem of her possible unintended pregnancy understandable and sympathetic? How would you react under similar conditions?
- The book is set in the 1970's and deals with the question of a person's right to forego life support when death is imminent. Do you think things have changed since then? How have they changed?
- What do you think about the difference between doctor-patient relationships and the way doctors' practices were run back in the 1970's (answering services, one nurse-receptionist) as compared to today? Do you think it is better or worse today?
- Do you think Robert was right in wanting to keep the truth about her condition from Marcie? What would you do if you knew someone you loved was destined to die soon?
- Sarah Resnick, Marcie's mother, has a strong role in the story. What do you think of her relationship with Robert? Does she remind you of your mother or mother-in-law? In what way?
- The book also deals with Robert's struggle to gain tenure at his college, in the course of which we meet several of his colleagues. Consider Katherine Marish, Roscoe Bradcliff, Arthur Dowley, and Professor Greystone. Do any of them remind you of people you know or teachers you have had?
- How do you explain Robert's actions the evening he spent with Katherine Marish? Could you relate to his need to be with her? Why or why not?
- When Marcie misunderstands Robert's absences and sends him away, he goes to stay with Arthur Dowley. Does that surprise you? Why? What do you think of Professor Dowley's relationship with Robert and with his other colleagues? Is he the kind of person you would trust?
- Marcie finds some comfort when she and Robert discuss her condition with Rabbi Klein, though Robert doesn't. Did you find the discussion meaningful? Did the parable of the two ships that the rabbi tells them have an effect on your thinking or point of view? How did you respond to Rabbi Klein as a person and as a clergyman?
- Could you empathize with Marcie's decision to decline life-sustaining procedures when she goes into the inevitable final coma? Do you think it was fair of her to ask Robert to ensure that her wishes be carried out? Why or why not?
- Were you moved by Robert and Marcie's idyllic weekend at the Plaza Hotel? Why? What moved you most about it? Were you surprised by how the weekend ended?
- When Marcie is rushed to the hospital in a coma, Robert has difficult encounters with the admissions clerk, a nurse, and the resident in charge of Marcie's care. Have you ever had similar experiences? Is Robert's response during these encounters realistic?
- In the end, Robert is left to carry out Marcie's wishes on his own. How do you feel about what he did? Could you do the same for someone you love? What do you think will happen to Robert?
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