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The Women of Troy Reader’s Guide

By Pat Barker

The Women of Troy by Pat Barker


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Discuss Briseis’s relationship with Amina and how it develops throughout the book. Why is Briseis so determined to befriend Amina?

2. How does Briseis’s status as a married woman change her life at camp? What about her pregnancy?

3. Helle has always been a slave, how does her perspective differ from the women who were previously free?

4. Throughout the novel, women are underestimated: they are invisible, not seen as a threat, only believed when a man speaks for them. In what ways is this a blessing and a curse? How do the women use this to their advantage?

5. Motherhood is an important theme in this book. Discuss the various mother-daughter and mother-son relationships both those that are biological and those that are not or are more metaphorical.

6. The gods are very real to the characters in the book, but they do not appear as characters in the story. How does their belief in the gods influence the behavior of the characters? How do their beliefs differ from modern ones?

7. Discuss the role of the wind and weather in the book. What do they represent?

8. How did the night Briseis ran away change her relationship with Achilles? Why did she come back?

9. Discuss Pyrrhus’s punishment. Was it fair? How do you feel about how it played out?

10. How did the author’s use of anachronistic dialogue affect your reading of the book? Why do you think the author might have made that stylistic choice?

11. Women in the original versions of this story were often only defined by their relationships to men, they were somebody’s daughter, or wife, or slave. In what ways does The Women of Troy give these women their own voices?

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