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My Name is Lucy Barton Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

The following questions can help you to guide your students through a structured discussion about Elizabeth Strout's 2016 novel 'My Name is Lucy Barton'.

My Name is Lucy Barton

My Name is Lucy Barton is a 2016 novel by American author Elizabeth Strout. The story, told through episodic memories and moments, explores concepts of loneliness, isolation, and coming to terms with one's life. This discussion is intended for high school students but can be adapted to other ages as well.

Questions about Plot and Characters

  • In one sentence, how would you describe the plot of My Name is Lucy Barton? What is this story about? How you would explain it to a friend?
  • Who is Lucy Barton? How are we introduced to this character? What was your first impression of Lucy? How does she describe herself?
  • What was Lucy's childhood like? What were the major events or factors that defined the way she came to view herself and her place in the world? How do you think each of these would impact someone? What is it like to grow up around physical abuse? What is it like not knowing if you'll have enough to get by? How does Lucy respond to these?
  • How does this novel intertwine the events of Lucy's past and present? What did you think about this style of storytelling? How does this help us to understand Lucy? How does our perception of her develop throughout the story?
  • In both her young life and adult life, who were the figures that made Lucy feel seen and cared for? What happened to those relationships? What figures reinforced her feelings of isolation?
  • How is Lucy's relationship with her mother changed by her hospital stay? Why do you think this means so much to Lucy? How does this help her reevaluate her past and her relationships? Do we see a change in Lucy after this?
  • What does writing mean to Lucy? How have books impacted her? How does writing help her deal with the issues in her own life? Why do you think she feels like she has to maintain negative emotions and distance from her family in order to be a writer? What does this tell us about Lucy, and how she views herself?
  • How does Lucy manage to come to terms with her life and relationships? What were the most significant steps she had to take in order to get here? What did you think of how this novel resolved its main conflicts and Lucy's story?

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