- Talk about the tone of this novel. Is it ironic? Humorous? Menacing?
- At one early point in the novel, Vernon Halliday thinks this about himself, “[H]e was infinitely diluted; he was simply the sum of all the people who had listened to him, and when he was alone, he was nothing at all”. Discuss this prescient statement, in light of Vernon’s fate.
- At different points in the novel, both Clive and Vernon think that Clive has given more to their friendship than Vernon has. In both their form and course, do you think friendships can ever be equal?
- How shaky is Clive’s moral foundation? Should he be allowed to condemn his fellow artists who ‘assume the licence of free artistic spirit’ and renege on commitments, even as Clive ignores the plight of a woman he witnesses being attacked?
- Vernon wants to crucify Garmony for the greater good of the republic. Is this ever a valid reason to go after a politician? With such differing stances, on whose side do you ultimately come down on, Clive’s or Vernon’s?
- Consider the importance of Molly’s role in the novel. Are there other examples in literature of characters who carry great weight and importance even though they never appear? How does Molly compare?