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The Black Widow by Daniel Silva Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

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

''The Black Widow'' is an intriguing spy novel by Daniel Silva, so there's a lot that students may want to discuss about it. These questions can help guide that discussion about plot, characters, structure, and themes.

The Black Widow

The Black Widow is a 2016 spy novel by American author Daniel Silva. The novel is built on themes of terrorism, anti-Semitism, and violence, so it may contain some triggers for certain students. These questions are designed to help your students better appreciate this book from both a literary and thematic standpoint, examining how the author crafts a mystery and what the books is trying to communicate about its themes.

Questions about Characters and Plot

  • How does The Black Widow start? What are the opening events in this book? What did you think of this opening? Did it catch your attention? How did it establish the mystery that the plot revolves around?
  • Who is the main protagonist in The Black Widow? When do we first meet Gabriel Allon? Why do you think the author does not introduce Gabriel right away? How is Gabriel first described? What do we learn about him? What do we learn about him throughout the book, both explicitly and implicitly?
  • Who is the main antagonist in The Black Widow? How are we introduced to this character? How is he described by the author? How is he described by other characters? What makes Gabriel Allon and Saladin good foils for each other?
  • In you own words, describe the plot of this book in one sentence. What is this book about? How is that established? What is the central conflict? What are the major plot points that maintain the momentum of the story? What is the climax?
  • How do characters change throughout the story? Who changes the most? How do these events impact Gabriel? How do they impact Natalie? How do they impact Saladin?
  • How does The Black Widow end? How is the conflict resolved? What did you think about this resolution? What do you think the author is trying to say?

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