Book Club and Reading Group Guide
Topics for Discussion "Cause & Conscience"
- What is the function of conscience? Is it primarily a deterrent to wrong
action, a reminder of guilt? Or does conscience have a higher purpose?
Discuss Samantha's reflections on this theme in her journal, the final
chapter of Cause and Conscience.
- What is the nature of creativity? When a person creates, is he or she
discovering something that already exists, or making up something which has
never existed? Aside from Miranda, who are the creative individuals in the
- What is the artist's process? Is it vital to be eccentric and
anti-social to be a true artist? Which is artistic integrity? Does Miranda
have a more pristine sense of ethics, or does her new mentor Blake?
- How does being the child of an alcoholic parent affect a person's self
esteem? Is Susan justified in her rejection of her father? Does this issue
have added complexities for Native Americans?
- Does being handicapped affect a person's ability to have a relationship?
Or is physical disability irrelevant to how we relate to others? Is Tony and
Sally's relationship stronger now than it was when they were young?
- How has Zack's accident affected him mentally? Was he guilt-ridden
before the off-shore oil rig disaster? Or did his brush with death reawaken
his conscience? How has a near-death experience affected you or someone
close to you?
- Who would you say is one character in the story who has no conscience?
Can someone be a good person without a conscience? Does everyone, in fact,
have a conscience — some just bury it better than others?
- A person's early experiences generally exert a powerful influence over
their lives. If these are negative, can they be overcome? Could Wilhelm
overcome his Nazi father's patterns? Or are some influences too evil ever to
- Mara Purl has been described as a "hyphenate" — a
writer-producer-actor-musician. How does her multi-disciplinary background
in the arts appear in her novels?
- Why is this book called Cause and Conscience? Is this a reference to
Samantha's guilt about her lost child? Does it also apply to Zack's turmoil
regarding his two relationships? When in your own life did you grow as a
result of wrestling with your conscience? What did you learn about yourself?
Fiction: Milford-Haven: Test Editions: Cause and Conscience: Topics for Discussion