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Dear James
by Hassler, Jon
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1. Forgiveness is an important theme of Dear James, which relates how strict, unforgiving Agatha McGee comes to forgive both James O'Hannon and Imogene Kite. How did this forgiveness come about? What motivated these changes?

2. Why did Agatha suddenly reveal the secret of French's parentage?

3. The novel shows how two older people, James and Agatha, find new meaning and new direction in later life. What challenges did James and Agatha have to face? What personal qualities did they bring to bear on their crises?

4. Did Pope John Paul II miraculously discern the nature of James's mission of reconciliation, or was he making a general comment about the priestly vocation (p. 409)? Does the answer matter in the story?

5. Why did the people of Staggerford so readily turn against Agatha, who was one of the most respected people in town?

6. Why did Imogene Kite and Sylvester juba act so maliciously against Agatha? Hoave you ever experienced or observed similar malicious acts?

7. Father Finn and Father James O'Hannon approach their vocations in very different ways from each other. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each priest.

8. What picture of the Catholic Church does the novel present? Consider especially the clerical and religious characters: Father James O'Hannon, Father Finn, Sister Judy Juba, Bishop Dick Baker, and Monsignor Andrew Corcoran. How does each represent the church?

9. Discuss Agatha's remark: "By what flaw in God's plan...were most people in need of more love than they were getting?" (p.253). Is this true? Is it a flaw in God's plan?

10. How does Jon Hassler portray small-town life in the novel? Discuss its attractive and unattractive features.

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