Discussion Questions for Field Notes

Field Notes: A Life Story - Book Cover

Dear Reader,

I sincerely hope that you will find the following questions to be thought provoking and that they will enhance your experience reading Field Notes: A Life Story.

Use them for pondering the book as you read it, and possibly as the basis for discussing the book with friends, your book club, writer’s group, or in a term paper or high school or college literature class.

Sincerely yours,
Sheila Clapkin
Tarzana, California
September 2010

Discussion Questions

  1. Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is the natural part of the healing process. How does bringing Fields and the love of Fields along with Sunshine throughout her life add to the process of addressing her grief and the process of healing?
  2. What is the significance of Sunshine’s unending love for Fields? How does this love connect her to her life after Fields and the continuation of this love? In observing this great love, would you say this relationship is helpful or a hindrance in Sunshine’s life? Would it affect the next relationship to come into her life? Why is another love relationship never revealed?
  3. Why do you suppose the author takes so much time to illuminate Field’s family?
    Since the household of Fields’ family and the seeds of his future are so painstaking described, why do you think the author has left out much of the Sunshine’s family life? Consider whether you would have wanted to know more about Sunshine and her family after Fields.
  4. Would this story have unfolded differently if it were about Sunshine, her family, and her future life?
  5. Would it have changed Sunshine’s character had Fields lived and continued in the real world? Would the elements of true love have continued?
  6. As you have read in the story and have been able to witness the unfolding of the screen door effect, did you appreciate how you could assume the character of the screen door and let many of your troubles and stresses blow through the door? Did you imagine how you would have used this principle in the past and how you will be able to lighten your load in the future?
  7. Do you perceive yourself bending like bamboo? How will you approach daily living now that you have distinguished the difference between approaching difficulties bending like bamboo or relating rigidly?
  8. The dilemma that Sunshine faces when the Rabbi states that she will not participate in the confirmation with the others in her class raises the question of how much significance does the religious rite of passage actually help us with the gaining of independence needed in our lives. Did you have a ceremonial rite of passage witnessed by others in your life? Did it prepare you for life as an adult? Discuss.
  9. What are the similarities and the differences between the characters Lena and Pierces’ Angel. What significance and authenticity do they add to the overall theme?
  10. What role does Lilly play in Sunshine’s life? In Eugenia’s life? In the lives of her husband and children? Why is the resemblance between Fields and Lilly so important? Does the interaction of genes versus environmental issues come into play here? Debate nature versus nurture.
  11. What do you think Lilly will tell her family about Fields? How will this information blend into their lives? Will knowing about Fields change anything for any of them?
  12. Discuss how reading this book has helped you to become more aware of yourself, your life themes, your experiences, thoughts and ideas, your celebrations, your rite of passages, your ability to bend like bamboo, become a screen door, use your mind to get what is already yours, and to implement and perform what you have learned lessons from life’s lessons.

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