Pigs in Heaven
Study Questions and Essay Topics
Annawake often feels frustrated that people only think of Native Americans in terms of history, or that people's perceptions of Cherokee life are based mostly on marketing and media representations. How does the book represent modern Cherokee life? How is it different than the way it is represented in American culture?
Over the course of the novel, the author uses several details that lead up to Turtle's new relationship with the Cherokee Nation. What kinds of details suggest that Turtle and Taylor must at some point confront Turtle's identity as a Cherokee?
At the end of the novel, Alice understands that her long line of women on their own, is now opening its doors to men. What role does gender play in the novel? How does the idea of "women on their own" evolve?
Suggested Essay Topics
There is an ongoing tension in the novel between community values and individualism. Jax seems to think that no compromise is possible. Does the novel suggest that reconciling these two ways of life is possible?
What role does the magazine advertisement of Sugar play in the novel? What is the symbolic meaning of the town named Heaven?
Annawake oftentimes gives historical accounts of atrocities practiced against her people. What does this historical remembrance/analysis add to the story?
Think about the names in the novel, especially those given to the Cherokee characters: Annawake Fourkiller, Cash Stillwater, Boma Mellowbug, Turtle, even Lucky Buster. Names in this book draw attention to certain character traits. What are they, and what actions reflect their significance? How do names help to produce a character?
Would you consider the end of the novel happy or sad? How is the ending consistent with the novel's moral scheme?
How do the Cherokee consider bloodline or racial purity? How does one become a Cherokee?
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