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READING AND DISCUSSION GUIDE: The Fire Escape Belongs in Brooklyn

Reading and Discussion Guide for
THE FIRE ESCAPE BELONGS IN BROOKLYN
By
Chuck Cascio

NOTE: If you would like  to discuss any of these items with me, please email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com.

 
1) What is the tone established in the Prologue and Chapters 1-3? How does it contribute to the story arc and how does it tie to Volumes I&II?
 
2) Throughout much of the book, Mike "talks" to Sally-Boy. Do his "conversations" and recollections seem to calm Mike or do they seem to cause an increased sense of despair and desperation?
 
3) Chapters 8-11 are often referred to as indicative of a turning point in Mike's thinking. If you agree with that position, what are some of the specifics that occur in those chapters that imply a change and is that change a sign of maturation or further frustration or both?
 
4) Chapters 12-19 immerse readers in several realities that Mike and others of his generation face. Consider Mike's initial reaction to Erica, how his feelings develop, and what elements of his nature seem to be emerging. At the same time, consider what his roommate, Fish, is like and how interactions with Darrell Bingham affect them both and, also, what Bingham seems to represent.
 
5) Chapter 20 ties together several elements of life during the Vietnam Era upon which much of the book focuses. Of those elements, what emerges as having the greatest impact of that time and which, if any of those elements, still seem prevalent today?
 
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6) As relationships emerge and develop between Mike and Erica and Fish and Katie, what aspects of their personalities seem to come through most prominently. Which, if any, of those aspects seem positive and which, if any, seem troubling to you?
 
7) Chapters 31-33 move the reader from a party where the song "Satisfaction" has a real and symbolic role to deeper thinking on Mike's part about where he is headed. What are some of the key scenes (if any) that indicate to you a change in the depth of the characters and what are some of the implications of those changes?
 
8) As the storyline develops, the role of Professor Staunton emerges as more prominent as does the impact of the Vietnam War. These elements combine to result in decisions that some people might consider heroic and others might consider objectionable. How do you feel about the decisions the characters make both in context of the story and in reality?
 
9) Chapter 48 focuses on a ferry ride that Mike and Erica take. What do you think of the character development in that chapter? Do you see any foreshadowing of what is to come?
 
10) Chapters 49-53 are filled with character elements that move the story to various points of dramatic conclusion. What is unexpected? What did you anticipate? How were you affected by the different events that impact the characters?
 
11) In the Epilogue, do you feel that Mike has resolved his issues with Sally-Boy's disappearance? Do you think that Mike does justice to Sally, or is there more that he should do and, if so, what should it be?
 

Copyright: Chuck Cascio, all rights reserved.