Syllabus: Revolutionary Road Book Club, Day 1
May 1, 2009

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Today’s Focus: Through the characters of April and Frank Wheeler, how does Yates portray life?
What the hell kind of life was this? What in God’s name was the point or the meaning or the purpose of a life like this?” (Yates59).

Club Discussion Questions:

1. What is the significance of this quote, “Alas! When passion is both meek and wild” at the beginning of the book?
2. What do you think is the tone of the author as he acts as a narrator?
3. At the beginning of the first chapter, Frank tells how April once said, “Sometimes I can feel as if I were sparkling all over and I want to go out and do something that’s absolutely crazy and marvelous…” (Yates8). Do you think April really feels this way? Or is this just a memory of the past?
4. “ ‘Just because you’ve got me safely in a trap you think-‘ You in a trap! You in a trap! Jesus, don’t make me laugh!’ “ (Yates28). What is the “trap” both April and Frank refer to in this quote?
5. “They looked and moved as if a calm and orderly escape from this place had become the on great necessity of their lives; as if, in facth, they wouldn’t be able to begin to live at all until they were out beyond the rumbling pink billows of exhaust and the crunching gravel of this parking love, out where the blakc sky went up and up forever and there were hundreds of thousands of stars” (Yates11). Why do the people have such a great desire to leave? Why do they flee from the horrible play and can’t live until they are away?
6. On page 13 Frank is talking about April as “the swaying shining vision of a girl he had not seen in years” and “the graceless, suffering creature whose existence he tried every day of his life to deny”. Why do you think April has changed so much since they met? What caused her to lose her “shine”?
7. Why does April immediately push Frank away when the show is a failrue?
8. “With a confident, fluid grace he steered the car out of the bouncing side road and onto the hard clean straightaway of Route Twelve, feeling that his attitude was on solid ground at last” (Yates21). What is the symbolism of Route Twelve?
9. When they first see the house Frank says, “ ‘I don’t suppose one picture window is necessarily going to destroy our personalities’ ” (Yates31). What do you think the house represents? Does Yates include some gothicism and make is have it’s own personality?
10. “ ‘I did love them. I love their clothes. I loved the way they talked. I loved to hear them tell about their lives’ “(Yates41). Through this description of April’s love for her parents, how do you think she views love? Does she love frank?
11. Why do you think Frank and April Wheeler have such a terrible marriage?
12. “ while the children’s voices fluted and chirped around him, as insiduously torturing as the gnats” (Yates53). Do you think Frank really loves his kids?

Syllabus: Revolutionary Road Book Club, Day 2
April 31, 2009


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Focus Question: How has Richard Yates’s life affected what he writes about? Also, it now seems that Maureen has taken a large part in this story? Why did the author see fit to include her in the story line?

Opening Activity: Take a quick look at Richard Yates life…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Yates_(novelist)
http://www.richardyates.org/bib_shinagel.html


Discussion Questions:
1. Why does Richard Yates start off chapter 4 with a scene from Frank’s past that involves Frank’s father and how important was Frank’s father in what he became later in life?
2. Why does Frank consider his whole job as a joke? Does he really go to someone every night or is that a figure of speech? “And so it started as some kind of a joke. Others might fail to see the humor of it, but it filled Frank Wheeler with a secret, astringent delight…”(pg. 80)
3. Why do you think Frank turns to Maureen for affection? Is it because he knows he cannot get that kind of attention from April or some other reason?
4. “It was impossible to tell whether they’d seen him or not, and he had instantly decided that it didn’t matter.” (pg. 97) What do you think of this quote, and about him getting into the taxi and taking Maureen out for “lunch”?
5. Any connections with Maureen and Myrtle?
6. Why did the incident with Maureen make Frank “feel like a man”?
7. “The curtains were drawn in the picture window.” (pg. 107) Can we make any connections to this or expand our discussion about the window from yesterday?
8. Why does April apologize to him so quickly on his birthday?
9. “It’s a swell tie. It’s the nicest tie I’ve ever had.” (pg.112) Why does Frank continue to call everything swell after he spent the afternoon with Maureen and then called her swell?
10. Why does Richard Yates use so many street signs in his writing? First we saw NO PASSING and now we see NO LEFT TURN on pg. 117.
11. Why does it seem that the term “You’re a man” or “feel like a man” is always connected with making-love with someone?

Closing Activity: Listen to “I’m Not Over” by Carolina Liar and connect it to April and Frank’s feelings for each other and how they have been living their life.

I'm Not Over

what a waste of time
the thought crossed my mind
but I never missed a beat
cant explain the who or what I was
trying to believe
what would you do
what would you do
do you know
I once had a grip on everything
it feels better to let go

I’m not over
I’m not over you just yet
can not hide it
you're not that easy to forget
I’m not over

never took the chance
could have jumped the fence
I was scared of my own two feet
could have crossed the line
it was black and white
no contrast to be seen
what would you do
what would you do
do you know
was it all a joke
never had control
I’m not better on my own


I’m not over
I’m not over you just get
can not hide it
you're not that easy to forget
I’m not over

what a waste of time
the thought crossed my mind
cant explain this thing or what I mean
I’m trying to let go

I’m not over
I’m not over you just get
can not hide it
you're not that easy to forget
I’m not over


Syllabus: Revolutionary Road Book Club, Day 3
May 4, 2009

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Focus: This is the first time the story is told from a perspective other than Frank’s. How has this changed your view of the Wheeler’s and what was your impression of them before?
1. How does Yates description of other men in the book compare to your image of Frank? What does that say about his character?
Example pg 125: “How small and neat and comically serious the other men looked, with their grey-flecked crew cuts and their button-down collars and their brisk little hurrying feet!


2. What makes Frank so confident as he goes into the office? Is it the sex or the prospect of moving to Paris and a life he always wanted?

3.
If Frank doesn’t love April then how does she still have the power to make him feel guilty?
Pg 131 “ It was because April had left a small pocket of guilt in his mind last night by saying that he’d ‘worked like a dog year after year.’ He had meant to point out that whatever it was he’d been doing here year after year, it could hardly be called working like a dog – but she hadn’t given him a chance. And now, by trying to clear all the papers of his desk in one day, he guessed he was trying to make up for having misled her.”


4.
We haven’t considered the kids part in this very much at all. How do you think the tone of this marriage has affected them? Pg. 135

5.
Do they love the true ideas of each other or the ideas they have been led to believe? Like the fact that Frank can speak French. Pg. 138

6.
On pg 133 Frank mentions all the “stammering, apologetic little bridges” had disappeared as he and April started talking at night. At the end of the chapter they come back just
as April starts taking charge. What does this symbolize?


7.
Are Milly and Shep really in love?

8.
Do you think any of the characters got the life they had imagined and does anyone in real life get the life they hope for?

Syllabus: Revolutionary Road, Book Club #4
May 6, 2009

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Opening Activity: Watch the following clips from movies. Look for the way the relationship is portrayed and how this compares the relationships in the book.

The Notebook (2:36)

Pride and Prejudice

A Little Princess
(3:21)

Finding Nemo

The Parent Trap


Compare the relationships depicted in these scenes and the relationships in Revolutionary Road?

Focus : What do the relationships in the book reveal about people and how humans interact with each other?

Questions:
1."Yet the reality of that fact had still to penetrate the reality of the office" (178). Why did moving to France seem unreal at work?
2."But his defiance lacked weight. The bright, dry torpid lake of this place had contained him too long and too peacefully to be ruffled by any silent threat of escape" (178) Do you think Frank really wants to go to Paris?
3. Do you think April has any ulterior motive for moving to Paris?
4. Why does Frank hate the office people he works with so much?
5. What does April's reaction to hearing the new about Frank's success at work reveal about their relationship and April's character?
6. How do April and Frank treat their children and how does this affect Michael and Jennifer?
7. Who do you think is in control of the relationship, Frank or April?
8. Why does the trip the France keep April and Frank from fighting?
9. Discuss the moment before the Givings come on page 193.
10. When Frank and April meet John Givings, she mentions "how perfectly frightful the traffic had been on Route Twelve" (195), what is the significance of this metaphor?
11. What is the significance of when John says that the Wheelers house is "nice. I like it here. Looks like a place where people live." (194)
12. How do the characters of April and Frank Wheeler compare to the character of John Givings? What is the author's point in this?
13. What does Frank mean when he says "the hopeless emptiness of this country"?
14. What do the shock treatments John givings recieve symbolize?
15. Why does Frank always see his conversations through the lenses of, "how I will explain this to April"? What does this show about their relationship?
16. Why does Frank compare Bart Polluck to Oat Fields?
17. What is the significance of Bart saying "Everything is selling. Nothing happens in the world, nothing comes into this world, until somebody makes a sale" (206)?
18. Does Frank treat his kids the way he was treated?


Syllabus: Revolutionary Road Book Club, Day 5
May 7, 2009

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“Love is an incredibly powerful word. When you're in love, you always want to be together, and when you're not, you're thinking about being together because you need that person and without them your life is incomplete” (Sophocles).

Focus Question: How does Richard Yates define love between the characters? Is it love based off of loyalty or based off of sexual means?
Opening Activity: Define “Love”

Google Definition
Webster Definition
The Real Definition of Love
Questions:
1. On pg. 32 what is meant when Frank reflects back on April saying, “I love you when you’re nice?”
2. Why do you think April removed herself from sleeping with Frank after he finally won the argument about the baby and being moral?
3. How come April reflects so much back on her parents and her childhood? Do you think it greatly affected them?
4. Why does Frank insist that April should see a psychoanalyst on pg. 239?
5. After reading about John a second time what is your impression now? Also, why does the author see fit to include an insane character?
6. How did you interpret Mrs. Giving’s reaction to the news that the Wheelers were not actually moving to France?
7. Does Frank or April seem more in control during the duration of this reading?
8. At the beginning of Ch.3 there is an entire explanation about the man who was playing the instruments? What was the point of that?
9. Why does Frank keep insisting that April’s unhappiness is her fault? See page 263.
10. What are the chances that Shep’s car would get stranded behind other cars? What was your reaction to the love-making by Shep and April? Was it unexpected or expected?
11. Why did April enjoy dancing the Jitterbug so much?
12. “And even if I did,” she said, “I’m afraid it wouldn’t help, because you see I don’t know who I am, either.” What is the significance of this quote said by April on page276?
13. Why does Frank decide to stop the affair between him and Maureen?
14. Why does Frank tell April about his love affair? What do you think about her reaction to his statement? And what do you think about Frank’s reaction to her reaction?



Syllabus: Revolutionary Road Book Club day 6
May 11, 2009
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Opening activity: Questions and reactions to the end.
Focus: How does the last line “He had turned off his hearing aid” relate to all the people in the book
1. What do you think of John’s declaration that “Money’s always a good reason… but it’s hardly ever the real reason.”? Pg 301 is money a common excuse today?
2. Why do you think April found Frank’s definition of insanity so funny? Pg 305
3. Why do you think April is so nice to Frank in the morning? Is it so that he will have a good last memory of her? Pg 311
4. Why can’t April hate Frank? Pg 319
5. What was the significance of April’s flash back? Pg 322
6. What in the letter could possibly be so comforting to Frank?
7. Do you think Millie was wrong to keep retelling the story as she did almost as a comfort to herself?
8. At the end everyone has a pair, someone who they can care for? Is there a lesson in that?