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Blue Nights
by Didion, Joan
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1. Didion quotes Euripides: What greater grief can there be for mortals than to see their children dead [p. 13]. In what ways does Blue Nights bear out this truth? Of all the griefs that humans might be forced to endure why is this the most painful?

2. What kind of child was Quintana? What was most remarkable about her and most painful about her loss?

3. Didion says she knows very few people who think of themselves as having succeeded as parents, that most parents instead recite rosaries of failures, our neglects, our derelictions and delinquencies [p. 93]. What does Didion most regret about her relationship with Quintana? What does she see as her failures?

4. Didion says that she had initially wanted to write a book about children but that after she started it became clear her true subject was the failure to confront the certainties of aging, illness, death [p. 54]. What does the book say about these essential human themes? Does Didion fail to confront them?

5. Didion describes her own illnesses and medical emergencies in a remarkably matter-of-fact way. Why is this understated approach more powerful than a more dramatic rendering might be?

6. What is so powerful about Didions quandary over who to list as an emergency contact on a medical form? What reveries does this question lead to?

Additional discussion questions from: Random House
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