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Old Men at Midnight Reader’s Guide

By Chaim Potok

Old Men at Midnight by Chaim Potok

READERS GUIDE

Introduction

Ilana Davin Dinn is the listener to whom three men relate their pasts. As each story is witnessed, three very different lives will irrevocably change through the concern of this one determined woman.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. The Ark Builder

1. Is there a reason to connect Noah with the Biblical story of the ark? Given that water is not present in the story, what then is the metaphor of the flood?

2. Noah says to Rachel, "You have pictures, I have nothing." What does he mean by this and what is its significance?

3. Why wouldn’t Noah draw his house when first asked? What is it about Rachel that was finally able to get him to draw?

The War Doctor

1. When Davita urges Leon Sherov to write his war stories down, he asks her, "Who needs stories of yet another Jew?" What is her answer? How would you have convinced him to tell his stories?

The Trope Teacher

1. Davita says to Benjamin, "Memory is like a ball of wooden thread, Benjamin. If the pen cannot unravel it, the voice can." What do you think she means by this statement?

2. The ram is a central metaphor in this story. Davita says, "I believe there is always a ram in the bush." Later on she comments, "Causes, connections, and rams. All over the place." What is the connection between these words and the long story that Benjamin finally learns about Mr. Zapiski?

 
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