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The House at the Edge of Night Discussion Questions

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

'The House at the Edge of Night' follows the dynamic Esposito family through decades on the small island of Castallamare. Use these discussion questions to help your high school-age students tackle the setting, characters, and themes of this novel.

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

Catherine Banner's The House at the Edge of Night tells the story of the Esposito family over 95 years of their time on the Mediterranean island of Castallamare. With colorful characters, historical connections, and complex themes, this novel will take readers on an exciting journey right along with the Espositos. Use these discussion questions to guide your high school-age students in responding to the setting, characters, and themes of this multigenerational novel. You may wish to use these questions to engage in a one-on-one conversation with a single student or provide a list to student partners or teams. Additionally, consider asking students to craft a written response to one or more of the questions to serve as a summative assessment.

*Note: These questions are designed to be used after students have read the novel. As some questions ask for textual evidence, ensure that students have the book handy during discussion.

Questions about Setting

  • This book spans several generations of the Esposito family, over a period of 95 years. Do you think covering this large time period was a good decision on Banner's part? Was anything lost because of the lengthy timeline? What context would have been missing if she only captured a single generation? Why do you think she chose to write this as a multigenerational look at the family?
  • Banner uses vivid and colorful imagery to describe the setting of this novel. Search the book to find examples of strong imagery that bring this tiny Mediterranean island to life for the reader. What makes each example powerful? What does her imagery allow you to see that you may otherwise have missed? How does imagery affect a reader's experience of setting?
  • Castellamare is filled with culture, excitement, and a bit of scandal. Discuss the reason Banner might have chose this setting and if her selection was a good one. Does the book make you want to visit this island? Why or why not? What more do you know about Mediterranean culture because of reading this novel? Do you think any stereotypes were used in her portrayal of the characters or culture? If so, provide examples. If not, how were her viewpoints were objective and positive reflections of the culture? Use details from the text to support your answers.

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