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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

I'll Take You There

1. The narrator never reveals her own name. What do we know for sure about this girl? What events in her childhood have left her emotionally conflicted? Is everything she says the truth? What does she lie about?

2. The first section of this novel evokes a Gothic romance: an old mansion, an aura of foreboding, a hidden secret in the housekeeper's room. How do the narrator's perceptions of her surroundings reflect her mental state? Is this kind of thinking typical of a teenage girl?

3. What is the narrator's fascination with Mrs. Thayer? Why does she trespass in the housekeeper's rooms? What does she find?

4. What attracts the narrator to Vernor Matheius? Do you think her brother Hendrick's words at the opening of Chapter Five -- "You! You are capable of any thing" -- are relevant to her choice of Vernor as the object of her desire? What attracts Vernor to her?

5. The narrator wants Vernor to love her. She says she loves him. Do you think that the narrator's feelings are love? If so, how would you describe this love? What happens to her relationship with Vernor?

6. The search for the missing father is a frequent theme in literature. Why? What has the absent father to do with our conception of ourselves? How has the narrator been affected by her relationship with her father? How does it change in the final section of the book?

I'll Take You There
by Joyce Carol Oates

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060501189
  • ISBN-13: 9780060501181