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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Binding Chair: Or, A Visit from the Foot Emancipation Society

1. Discuss May's relationship to the foot binding ritual. Did you perceive her as being a victim? Do you think that May thought of herself as a victim? Why or why not?

2. If you could identify one event as being the one that influenced the path that May's life took, what would it be?

3. How did the third person narrative affect the tone of the novel? How would it have been different if the reader had seen the world specifically through May's eyes, or even Alice's?

4. Was Dolly's impulse to separate May and Alice well founded, or was she being hyper-vigilant? Would you characterize May and Alice's connection as a healthy one?

5. If May's feet had not been bound, would Arthur have loved May? If not, does that diminish his love for her? Do you think that May was in love with Arthur, or do you think she needed him?

6. Why didn't May want to wear the orthopedic shoes?

7. The Binding Chair teems with characters, and all of them are somehow connected to each other. How did this support the themes in the novel?

8. Was the conclusion of the novel satisfying? Why or why not?

The Binding Chair: Or, A Visit from the Foot Emancipation Society
by Kathryn Harrison

  • Publication Date: June 26, 2001
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060934425
  • ISBN-13: 9780060934422