Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.
Crossing to Safety
What are your dreams for your future? Which of these dreams do you have control of the outcome? Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety is the story of a friendship between two couples, but is also a reflection on the dreams of youth and forced compromises associated with those dreams. The following questions may be used to lead a class discussion about Crossing to Safety.
The questions in this section reflect on Larry Morgan's youthful dreams and the beginning of the friendship between the Langs and the Morgans.
- Describe the structure of this story. How does the story structure contribute to the reader's experience?
- Who is Larry Morgan? What are Larry's dreams during his early years in Madison, Wisconsin? What are some challenges he faces during that point in his life? What are some ways priorities change as people age?
- Compare the Langs to the Morgans. What are some things they have in common? What are their differences? Why do you think they are drawn to each other in friendship? What are the most important commonalities in your friendships?
- How do the Langs help the Morgans? Why is networking important? What are some things you can do to build a network of support?
This section is comprised of questions about the ways in which life interferes with the youthful dreams of both couples. Students will reflect on the compromises made by each couple and whether or not the compromises were worth the cost.
- How are the Langs different from the image they project? What effect does their dysfunction have on their children? Why do you think people hide who they truly are from the outside world? How is your inner being different from the way others see you?
- What effect does Sally's health have on Larry's plans? What are some other life events that might force someone to change their plans?
- What are some compromises Sid makes in his dreams to accommodate Charity's dreams? What are some contributions Charity makes to Sid's life to improve it? Do you think the benefits of compromise outweigh the negatives? Explain your answer.
Meaning of Success
In this section, students will discuss the true meaning of success and the deeper meaning behind the themes of this novel.
- According to the American standard of success, would you consider the Langs or the Morgans to be successful? What are some areas of their lives in which each couple is successful? What is your definition of success?
- Describe Battell Pond. What part does this setting play in characterizing the friendship between the couples. What draws the couples back to Battell Pond after many years? Think of a place that is meaningful to you. What prompts this sentimental attachment?
- How does each couple change from the beginning to the end of the novel? What are some of the impediments of change? How do early life experiences influence their continued struggles? What are some things you hope will be different about your life compared to your parents? What is your plan for making these changes?
- Why do you think the author chose to write this novel? What did you learn from reading it?
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