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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions


1. Why does Moira feel she needs to recount her story to Amy? Would she have done so if Amy hadn’t had her accident?

2. Are Moira’s suspicions that she is the less loved of her parents’ two children founded?

3. How does her parents’ perceived betrayal in sending her to boarding school affect Moira’s interactions with others as she matures?

4. What choice is Moira making when she takes a sip from the shampoo bottle in her dormitory?

5. Discuss the symbolism of water throughout the novel.

6. How does the relationship of the brothers Ray and Stephen mirror that of the sisters Moira and Amy?

7. Why is Moira close with Til when she is so emotionally remote with her parents?

8. Although Moira is telling the story of her own life to Amy, she frequently refers to herself in the third-person. What does Oystercatchers reveal about self-recognition?

9. How does Moira come to better understand Heather’s cruelty to her after Amy’s accident?

10. Was Moira and Ray’s decision to marry young rash?

11. Moira perceives herself as ungainly and weird, so what accounts for various men’s attraction to her throughout the novel?

12. Why did Amy seek Moira’s approval given their almost elementally different personalities?

13. What is Moira to blame for, in the end?

14. What are the roles of accident and human will in the life-story Moira recounts?

15. 15. In Ray’s painting, Till’s theater-acting, and Moira’s storytelling, what does Oystercatchers capture about the human desire to expressive ourselves to others?

by Susan Fletcher

  • Publication Date: August 17, 2007
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • ISBN-10: 0393060039
  • ISBN-13: 9780393060034