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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Mineral Palace

1. Things aren't always as they seem in The Mineral Palace. How does Heidi Julavits use lies and secrets to tell the story?

2. Inclement weather occurs throughout The Mineral Palace. How does the weather mirror actual events in the novel?

3. How do superstition and coincidence impact Bena's decisions throughout the story?

4. Bena's role as a mother is a recurring theme in The Mineral Palace. How does the conclusion affect this role? Do Bena's actions break down what might otherwise be a positive construction of motherhood?

5. How would the story change if it took place in a different setting - if, for example, Bena and her husband had originally moved to a more fertile part of the country?

6. How are Maude and Bena alike? How are they different?

7. What characteristics does Julavits give Maude to set her apart from a stereotypical prostitute?

8. Why do you think Julavits chose The Mineral Palace as her title? In what way is the Palace at the structural and thematic center of the novel?

The Mineral Palace
by Heidi Julavits

  • Publication Date: August 28, 2000
  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399146229
  • ISBN-13: 9780399146220