Questions for Discussion of A Dispelling of Darkness

1. How did PJ Profitt change during the story? How is she different? What changed her?

2. Pick a paragraph or a page that describes how one character treats another character. Would you treat a character the same way? Have you ever been treated in a similar way or seen someone else treated that way? Describe the situation.

3. What handicap did PJ have to overcome? Describe the scene where she was able to overcome it.

4. Why do you think the author wrote this story? Is there a message in the story?  What is it?

5. Have you ever had an experience where your judgement of someone based on their behavior is tempered when you realize some of its underlying causes?  Explain. Did you feel differently about Jennifer’s bullying when you read PJ’s assessment of her relationship with Ms. Black? If so, in what way was your judgement altered?  If not, why did PJ’s assessment not alter the way you thought about Jennifer’s bad behavior?

6. Describe how the author addresses one of the following themes: friendship, loyalty, bullying, eco-anxiety, family, identity, youth environmental activism, hope, negativity.

7. Can you name any historical events or current day battles related to indigenous rights and environmental degradation that could have inspired events in the storyline?

8. This novel is a magical realism genre that places characters in a world that is mostly real but with magical elements woven into the narrative. Every reader should be able to relate to PJ’s daily routine, family and friend issues, and concerns about the environment, but what of the magical elements that are present just below the surface of PJ’s world? What do you think of PJ’s reaction to her developing awareness that there are magical or unexplainable forces operating in her life? How do you think you would react to such a developing awareness?

9. PJ’s coming of age is evidenced in a growing awareness of the important bond with ancestors and her responsibility and ability to act against polluters. This awareness is highlighted in her remembrance of the words on her dad‘s desk: If Not You Then Who, If Not Now Then When? How do words such as this make you feel?  Do they motivate or paralyze you? Explain.

10. The “at the same moments” scattered throughout the story are really urgent cries for recognition of the suffering that complacency on environmental concerns is causing.  Write “a moment” that addresses the suffering of an indigenous group or an animal due to pollution or unbridled development.

11. Describe the aspects of this story that demonstrate the following elements of magical realism.

  • Real-world setting
  • Supernatural happenings — left unexplained

12. At what point in the story do the underlying magical currents cross over into the real world and indicate to PJ and the reader that PJ’s journeys aren’t merely dreams but are substantial?

13. Within a work of magical realism, existence is grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world. What was your first clue that in PJ’s world there are forces or elements beyond what the reader or the writer would classify as normal?