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How to Behave in a Crowd Reader’s Guide

By Camille Bordas

How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas


In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessaryto reveal certain aspects of the story in this novel. If you have not finished reading How to Behave in a Crowd, we respectfully suggest that you do so before reviewing this guide.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Isidore’s character is often identified by his family members as the “sensitive” one, as opposed to the intellectual one. Why do you think they see him that way? Do you think that social intelligence and academic intelligence are mutually exclusive?

2. About halfway through the novel, Dory ceases in his attempts to run away from home. Why do you think he gives up on this idea? Why do you think he was doing it in the first place?

3. Early in the book, Simone defines pretentiousness for Dory. Do you agree with her claim that she’s not actually pretentious? 

4. What do you make of Isidore’s family dynamic? Do you think of the Mazals as a dysfunctional family, or do you believe that they simply have their own way of functionning? 

5. Discuss Denise’s character. What role does she play in Isidore’s life? What about Rose’s character? 

6. Do you agree with Simone’s idea about the funnel? Does Dory, as the novel progresses, travel further down the funnel? Do any of the characters attempt to climb up the funnel? If so, do any succeed?

7. Discuss the V-effect as it relates to Dory’s descriptions of some of the novels more startling moments (e.g. the father’s death, the loss of his virginity, his final encounter with Porfi).

8. In their final scene together, Daphne asks Dory if, after she dies, she will weigh on his life, to which Dory responds, “I can’t promise you anything.” Is this honest answer ultimately cruel of him or kind? Do you think he would have answered the same way had he been asked the question at the start of the novel? Would his answer have been any crueler or kinder?

9. Why do you think Dory can’t look at Leonard after having read what Leonard wrote about him? 

10. Dory ages two years over the course of the novel. How does he change? How does he mature? 

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