The Nightingale 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 Nightingale' by Kristin Hannah is a novel about two sisters who respond to Nazi occupation in France in different ways. This lesson will guide classroom discussions about this story.

The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a novel about the Holocaust that will challenge students to consider what they would do if they were ever in a similar circumstance. Students will see examples of the roles played by various rescuers during this time in history. These questions will lead to class discussions about this story.

Chapters 1-13

  • What is the setting at the beginning of chapter 1?
  • Why do you think the author chose to begin the story during this time period?
  • What does the woman ask of her son? Why?
  • What is the setting in chapter 2? Why does it change?
  • Describe Vianne's family during her childhood. How does it compare with her family during her adulthood?
  • Why does Antoine want to talk about the war? How does Vianne react? Why?
  • Who is Rachel? What do Vianne and Rachel have in common?
  • What does Antoine want Vianne and Sophie to do while he is gone? Why do they refuse?
  • Compare Isabelle to Vianne.
  • Describe the relationship between Julien and his daughters.
  • What is Isabelle's hope for her future?
  • Why is Isabelle sent to stay with Vianne? How does Isabelle feel about that? Why?
  • What happens to Isabelle on the way to Vianne's home?
  • Who is Gaetan? Should Isabelle trust him? Why?
  • Why does Vianne lock her door when the refugees come?
  • Describe Isabelle's relationship with Gaetan.
  • Why do you think the Nazis took radios from everyone?
  • What has happened to Antoine?
  • Compare Isabelle and Vianne's reactions to Bec.
  • Why does Isabelle remain with Vianne?
  • How is Isabelle introduced to the French resistance fighters?
  • Describe Vianne and Bec's relationship. How is it perceived by others?
  • What list does Vianne provide for Bec? What does this reveal about Vianne?
  • What happens to the people on the list? How does Vianne feel about it?
  • What does Vianne think Isabelle is doing when she disappears? How would Vianne react if she knew the truth?
  • What does the resistance want Isabelle to do for them? How does she get permission to travel?

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