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On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon
by Gibbons, Kaye
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1. In what ways does Emma Garnet personify a typical southern belle? Does she fight to overcome any of them? Are any of her personality traits affected by her long years married to a northerner?

2. The novel opens with Emma narrating her childhood from the age of 12. She gives many insights into slavery, family dynamics, and her father. Do these insights seem typical to a 12-year-old or does it seem that they are tainted by hindsight?

3. Many of the main characters seem typecast as specific roles, Samuel as the violent, unfeeling plantation owner, Emma as the rebellious daughter, etc. Do you think these roles give an accurate portrait of a family life? Of life during the Civil War? Of life in the South?

4. What are Emmas perspectives of war? What about Quincys? Do those perspectives differ? Why or why not? Does the fact that Emma is from the South and Quincy from the North have anything to do with their views on slavery or war?

5. During the course of the book, Emmas brother Whately dies, her mother dies, her father dies, and Clarice dies. How do each of these deaths shape Emmas character and her life?

6. Samuel and Quincy are the two most important men in Emmas life. Why did the author choose to present their characters in such stark contrast to one another? Do you think the characters would have been more interesting if each had a dose of the other?

Additional discussion questions from: Reading Group Guides
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