Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
A Pigeon and a Boy
A Pigeon and a Boy is a novel by Israeli author Meir Shalev, in which two love stories set decades apart intertwine in unexpected ways. With the structure of the book, its themes, characters, and plot, there are many aspects that are ripe for discussion. These questions can help guide your class through a discussion on their thoughts and reactions to this story.
Questions about Characters and Plot
- In one sentence, describe the plot of A Pigeon and a Boy. What is this story about?
- How does A Pigeon and a Boy begin? What did you think of how this novel opened? Why is this opening significant? How does it set the tone and main ideas of the story?
- Who is the main protagonist of the novel? How are we introduced to Yair? What are the first things we learn about him? What does he do for a living? Why is his job as a tour guide significant? What does this tell us about him? How would you describe this character?
- How does the plot of this novel get set in motion? What events transpire to encourage this? What role does Yair play in this himself?
- Who are the important people in Yair's life throughout the story? How are we introduced to each of them? What is Yair's relationship like with each? How is he defined by these relationships?
- How is the story of the Baby introduced into the novel? What did you think of this story? How is it similar to Yair and Tirzah's story? How is it different?
- What ties Yair's story and the Baby's story together? Were you expecting this, or something different? How does A Pigeon and a Boy end? Are all the conflicts resolved? How have the characters changed? What did you think of the novel's ending?
Questions about Structure
- How are the various parts of A Pigeon and a Boy told? What perspectives are used? What are the advantages and risks of this? What do you think of Yair as a narrator? Is he a reliable narrator? Why or why not? Does this always matter?
- How does author Meir Shalev balance the two competing love stories? How did they mirror each other? How did they differ from each other? What did you think of this storytelling structure? How is each story enhanced by the other?
- Are there magical elements interspersed throughout the story? What examples of this do we see? What is the significance of these moments? How do they fit within the larger stories?
Questions about Themes
- What are the major themes in A Pigeon and a Boy? How are these themes introduced? How are they developed throughout the novel?
- What does ''home'' mean in this story? Where do we see various definitions of home introduced? What does this mean to each character? How are these reinforced by the motif of the homing pigeon? How do Raya and Yair each react to the pigeons? What does that tell us about each of them and their ideas about home? How does Yair's job as a tour guide fit into this? What other motifs and symbols in the book connect to this idea?
- How much do you know about the history of Israel or of the Jewish people? For a book so concerned with home, what is significant about the war that is depicted? How does this book introduce Jewish customs, themes, and ideas? Are you familiar with the concept of Zionism? How does that relate to the symbol of the homing pigeon?
- What were your overall impressions of A Pigeon and a Boy? Do you have any remaining questions? Is there anything you'd like to learn about the history of Israel, homing pigeons, or anything else?
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