Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. How does history repeat itself with the three women in Going Down South? What does Daisy inherit from Birdie, and Olivia Jean from Daisy and Birdie? How does this compare to the lessons and characteristics that have been passed down in your own family?
2. How would you describe Birdie and Olivia Jean’s relationship? Why is their relationship so different from Daisy and Birdie’s?
3. How would you describe the tension between Daisy and Olivia Jean? Daisy and Birdie? How is Olivia Jean’s relationship with Birdie different from the others?
4. Why do you think Shorty Long does not try to stop Daisy from leaving Cold Water Springs?
5. Turk desperately wants a son. Do you think this has to do with the era, or, in your experience, do most men still think they want sons? How, if at all, is Turk changed by being a grandfather? How has fatherhood changed the men in your life?
6. Olivia Jean has to make a momentous decision about whether or not to continue her pregnancy. How much of her choice is motivated by social climate in the early 1960s, and how much by her inability to appreciate the nature of the decision she was making? Do you think her decision would be different if she were a teenager today?
7. Why do Shorty Long and Birdie feel compelled to end their relationship? Can you imagine a way in which they might have stayed together?
8. How is Birdie changed by her time in jail? What do you think she learns in “the big house”?
9. How would you characterize Daisy’s relationship with the men in her life?
10. Why is Turk so important to Daisy? How does their relationship evolve? Do you see their marriage as successful?
11. Were you surprised by Percy Walker’s involvement in the women’s lives? Why do you think he disavows Olivia Jean when she goes to visit him?
12. What role does Lupe play in each of the women’s lives? Why is Daisy so wary of him?
13. Why do you believe Shorty Long insisted on having dinner with Daisy and Birdie every Sunday? Do you think he achieved what he intended to achieve? Why or why not?
14. How did your perceptions of each character change as the story progressed? Which of the women changes the most over the course of the novel?
15. Which of the three women do you relate to the most and why?