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Cakewalk Reader’s Guide

By Rita Mae Brown

Cakewalk by Rita Mae Brown


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. What are the main themes of the novel? Which do you find most thought-provoking?

2. The introduction says, “It’s never a good idea to get into an argument with a Marylander.” Did this statement affect your interpretation of the novel? If so, how? How does it play out in the rest of the story?

3. The town of Runnymede is practically a character in the novel. What does it mean to Wheezie and Juts? Celeste and Curtis? How would the story be different if it were set somewhere else? How does Runny- mede’s position straddling the Mason-Dixon line amplify the novel’s themes?

4. Discuss the significance of the title as it pertains to each character.

5. In chapter 6, Celeste reflects, “Some things are right under your nose. You don’t see them and when someone does, you wonder how you missed it.” How does this prove true for Celeste by the end of the novel? For Ramelle?

6. How would you describe the relationship between the Hunsenmeir sisters? How does their wisecracking reveal their affection for each other?

7. Discuss Celeste’s evolution throughout the story. What lessons does she learn about love? About life?

8. At the end of chapter 13, Celeste says to her sister, “You know I love you. . . . It’s just sometimes I can’t stand you.” What do you think she means by that? What other characters in Runnymede have this kind of relationship?

9. Who would you cast to play each character in a movie adaptation of
Cakewalk? Why?

10. What elements of Cakewalk are specific to the 1920s time period? What elements are timeless?

11. Paul and Louise share a second kiss at the end of chapter 15. How does their relationship change after that? How does it stay the same? How is this kiss different from their first?

12. Some of the characters in Cakewalk are based on Rita Mae Brown’s own family. Which characters, if any, remind you of your family or friends? What other books have themes of family centricity and small-town life intertwining?

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