The Turner House 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 Turner House' is a 2015 novel by Angela Flournoy about a poverty-stricken African American family. This asset provides student discussion questions about this novel.

The Turner House

Angela Flournoy's The Turner House explores themes of family, racism, poverty, and addiction as it follows a large family from the early 1900s through the 1980s. The following questions prompt student discussions about this novel.

Turner Family History

  • What is the setting at the beginning of the story? Why do you think the author chose to begin the story with Francis and Viola Turner? What character traits to Francis and Viola model for their children? What are some character traits you have observed in your grandparents and parents that you want to pass down to future generations?
  • How does the Turner family change from the beginning of the story to the purchase of the Turner house? What prompts the change? How has your family changed in the last century?
  • Why do you think the Turner's home in Detroit is so central to the family? What are some places that have special meaning to you and your family? What do these places reveal about your family?
  • Describe Charles' encounter with the haint. How does the family react to Charles' experience? Do you believe in ghosts? Why? What would you say and do if someone in your family claimed to have an encounter with a haint?

Consequences of Dysfunction

  • By the 1980s, how has the Turner family and the Turner house changed? Why does Lelah decide to move in to the Turner house? Do you agree with this decision? Explain your answer.
  • What adjectives would you use to describe Lelah? How is she different from her parents? How does addiction affect Lelah? Connect this to your experiences with addiction. What advice would you give Lelah?
  • Explain Francis' background with the supernatural. How does Francis' experience influence his reaction to Charles' encounter with the haint? How are these encounters similar and different? What do you think Francis really thought about Charles' story? Connect this with a time that you suspected what someone said and what they thought were different. Why is there a disparity?
  • What influence does religion have on the Turner family? How do you know? What are some positive and negative consequences of this influence?

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