If you recover quickly enough from Independence Day revelry, be sure to join us Thursday for our discussion of Louise Erdrich’s The Painted Drum. As usual, we gather at 7 pm in the Art Lab, immediately following our 6 pm gallery tour.
Though this novel plunges deeply and directly into stories of unimaginable loss and grief, a strong sense of hope and redemption seems to run just below the surface, as the various stories intersect in unexpected ways.
We supply the following questions merely as pre-discussion fodder. As with celebratory fireworks, use a long fuse, and place on ground before igniting.
1) The title provides a particularly strong central image for the novel. What are some of the symbolic or metaphoric ramifications of the drum? What are some of its metaphysical properties?
2) The author uses three distinct voices to narrate the four sections of the novel. Why does she employ this multiple voiced technique? What is gained from this approach?
3) What is the significance of Faye’s ancestry? Could the novel have worked as well without it?
4) How are animals portrayed in the novel? What is their significance to the telling of the various tales? How do they help lend a “mythical” quality to the novel?
5) How is the use of alcohol portrayed in the novel? What are its cultural ramifications?
6) What does the novel seem to suggest about the importance of stories or legends to any given community of people?
7) Why does Faye take the drum? How does she justify her actions? Are the moral, ethical and legal issues of this act ever resolved?
All of this and more.
Have a safe a happy holiday! And remember, if you stand too close to the firecrackers, you might not hear the drum