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The Plague of Doves Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

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

The following discussion questions are designed to help your students better appreciate the plot, structure, and themes of the novel 'The Plague of Doves' by Louise Erdrich.

A Plague of Doves

A Plague of Doves is a novel by Louise Erdrich, an American Chippewa author. The story examines the interconnected lives and dramas of the families of Pluto, North Dakota and revolves around an old, unsolved murder. What may make this novel challenging for your students, however, is the structure of the story, in which past and present are indistinguishable. These discussion questions, designed for high school classrooms, can help your students work through their thoughts about this nonlinear narrative.

Questions about Plot and Characters

  • In one sentence, can you describe what A Plague of Doves is about?
  • Who are the main characters in this novel?
  • How are we introduced to Evelina? What was your first impression of this character? What clues from the text reveal her personality, beliefs, and sense of self to the reader?
  • How are we introduced to Marne? How is Marne different from Evelina? How is she similar?
  • Who are some of the other important characters in this novel? What were your impressions of each character? What does each character represent to Evelina?
  • How does the murder of the Lochern family impact Pluto? How does it impact the people living in this town? How does this continue to shape the lives of Marne and Evelina?
  • How does Evelina grow throughout this novel? What does she want at the start of the novel? What does she want by the end? How has she changed? Where do we see this change?
  • How is the mystery of the Lochern murder resolved? Do you feel like it was definitively resolved? What clues were there that Warren may have been the one responsible?

Questions about Structure

  • What did you think about this book when you first started reading it? Did the structure throw you off? When did you realize how this book was structured?
  • How did the structure of this story impact the way you interpreted events of the narrative? How did it impact your view of the characters?
  • Why do you think the author chose to write the story this way? Does a story need to be told in linear, chronological order? Why or why not? When we look back on the past, in our own memories, does everything always feel strictly linear? Do our memories jump around?

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