Before the Fall Discussion Questions

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

If you're looking for a fast-paced novel with engaging characters and thought-provoking action, try Noah Hawley's 'Before the Fall.' Use these questions about story, literary elements, social issues, and personal response to discuss it with your class.

Before the Fall

Noah Hawley's novel Before the Fall opens with a snapshot of several passengers boarding a private jet for a brief flight that ends in a tragic crash. As the novel continues, Hawley intersperses the story of the two survivors with the quest of authorities for the crash's cause and vignettes of the crash's victims immediately before the fall. The suspense of the novel is interwoven with philosophical musings and sharp details, making it an appealing read for teens or young adults. Use these discussion questions to get your class talking about the contemporary issues the book raises as well as the author's craft.

Questions About the Story

  • What do we learn about each of the plane's passengers as the novel opens? Why are these details important?
  • Why does the author mention Scott's sister?
  • Scott is surprised at the reception he gets from the ER nurse. How would you feel if you were the ER nurse when Scott and JJ arrive?
  • How does the plane crash change Scott's life?
  • When introducing each main character, the author makes a point of mentioning the character's parents and their occupations. Why do you think the author emphasizes the parents? What is the relevance to the story?
  • What are the differences and similarities in how different characters in the novel process their grief?
  • What is the function of the detailed descriptions of Scott's paintings?
  • What is the significance of Dworkin's at bat, which comes up several times in the story?
  • What do you think was the viewer reaction to Bill and Scott's interview?
  • How will people feel when they find out the reason for the crash? (Consider Emma's mom, Charlie's mom, Eleanor, Gus, Scott, and others).
  • Scott's final comment is that it's time to press play. What does he mean?

Questions About Literary Elements

  • What is the significance of the title Before the Fall?
  • What are examples of foreshadowing in the novel? Does the author use foreshadowing effectively?
  • The novel Before the Fall continually shifts viewpoints. How effective is this structure? Why would the author chose to set up the novel this way?
  • With which character do you most identify? Why?
  • This novel contains extensive descriptive passages. How does the use of descriptive detail impact the story?
  • The resolution of the novel was the discovery of the cause of the crash. What were the narrative clues leading up to the revelation of the crash's cause? Did you find it believable?

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account