The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey 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.

'The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey' is a novel by Walter Mosley about a man with dementia who undergoes experimental treatment. This resource offers discussion questions for students about this book.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

Walter Mosley's The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is a 2010 fictional novel that explores dementia and the ethical dilemma of using experimental treatments to improve the quality of life at the expense of life expectancy. Ptolemy Grey is the 91-year-old protagonist who struggles to piece his life together while he can. The following questions may be used to lead student conversations about this novel.


  • Why do you think the author chooses to begin with an Afterward? What are some questions this section raises for the reader? What is your first impression of Ptolemy's relationship with Robyn?
  • What are Ptolemy's biggest regrets? What can you do to avoid having regrets at the end of your life?
  • Describe Ptolemy Grey. How has dementia changed Ptolemy's ability to take care of himself? What do you think Ptolemy needs? If Ptolemy was a member of your family, what would you do?
  • Describe Ptolemy's relationship with Hilly. Who are the people you could trust if you could not make your own decisions? How do you know who to trust?

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