Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler Discussion Questions

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

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

'Perfume River' is a novel about soldiers who have come home from war and the relationships they have at home. These questions about the story, characters, and the themes the novel addresses are geared toward high school or college aged students.

Perfume River

Robert Olen Butler's novel Perfume River is a somber gaze at the twists and turns of marital, parent-child, and sibling relationships and also deals with the effects of war on soldiers after they come home. Robert, a history professor, meets Bob, a homeless man. They are each dealing with dark memories and difficult family relationships, and their stories intertwine until they culminate in an explosive event at Robert's father's funeral. Perfume River is a thought-provoking read for high school and college students, and you can help your students process the novel with these discussion starters.

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