Crossing to Safety Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Crossing to Safety' is a semi-autobiographical novel by Wallace Stegner about two couples in an enduring friendship. The questions in this asset support classroom discussions about this novel. Updated: 09/13/2019

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.

Youthful Dreams

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.

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