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Gun Love Reader’s Guide

By Jennifer Clement

Gun Love by Jennifer Clement


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Of the few possessions owned by Margot and Pearl, which ones did you find were the most meaningful? How do our material items reflect our identities? If you had to run away, which possessions would you take with you?

2. How is Pearl affected by her “dot-to-dot” existence? How does her story change your definition of home?

3. In chapter 6, Sergeant Bob gives Rose a 9mm pistol and tells her, “When a man gives his woman a gun it’s because he really trusts her.” We then learn the many names he has for guns, ranging from widow maker to peacemaker and lawmaker. How did your understanding of the novel’s title, Gun Love, vary as the storylines unfolded?

4. Discuss the nature of power as it plays out in Gun Love. What makes Margot so vulnerable to Eli that she can be “borrowed” like a cup of sugar? Why does Pastor Rex’s brand of religion give him power in the Indian Waters Trailer Park?  

5. What similarities and differences exist between Pearl and April May? When you were their age, did you have a friendship like theirs?  

6. Although Gun Love is a work of fiction, it presents well-researched realities of gun violence in America. In what way can fiction sometimes portray reality more powerfully than nonfiction can?

7. Ultimately, what are the causes of Margot and Pearl’s long-term homelessness?

8. Is Margot a good mother? What does she teach Pearl about being a woman? What legacies of womanhood are passed down to Pearl through the carefully preserved wedding dress?

9. Was Margot helped or hindered by her affluent upbringing? What purpose do her gloves and her Limoges serve? In contrast to the world of her childhood, what does it take to gain status and respect in the trailer park?

10. How did your reactions to Mr. Don’t Come Back shift throughout the novel? How would you have treated him if he were your brother or your son?

11. What transformations does Pearl undergo because of Leo? How are her expectations for love different from her mother’s?

12. What does Mr. Brodsky give to Pearl (including tangible and intangible gifts) that Margot couldn’t give her?

13. What lies at the root of Corazón’s obsession with Selena? How does Corazón reconcile that tragedy with her role in Ray’s enterprise?

14. If you could write a new federal law restricting or expanding gun ownership in America, what would you decree?

15. How did Gun Love enrich your experience of Jennifer Clement’s previous novel, Prayers for the Stolen, which describes the North American gun trade from the vantage point of Mexico? How does her writing help us understand the nature of fate and free will?

Guide written by Amy Root Clements

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