The Well and the Mine Discussion Questoins

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

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

''The Well and the Mine'' is a historical fiction novel set in the Depression-era South that explores a range of serious and important themes. These questions can help your students work through this engaging novel and its themes.

The Well and the Mine

The Well and the Mine is a novel by American author Gin Phillips. Set in Depression-era Alabama, the story examines issues of poverty, race, and community after a woman drops a baby into the protagonist's family well. The following discussion questions can help guide your students through a discussion on the plot, characters, themes, and structure of this novel.

Questions About Plot and Characters

  • Who is the main protagonist of The Well and the Mine? How are we introduced to Tess? What do we learn about her? How would you describe her personality? How does she describe and view herself?
  • What is Tess' family like? What are their names and personalities? How does she view them? What do we learn about them at the start of the novel?
  • When and where does this story take place? Why is this significant? How do the time and setting define the story and its characters? What social and economic issues was Alabama facing in the 1930s?
  • In one sentence, describe the plot of The Well and the Mine. What is this story about? What is the central conflict that drives this plot? How is it established? How is it developed?
  • What do Tess and her family learn throughout the course of their investigations? What do they learn about their community? What ideas are Tess exposed to that she wasn't before? How was she able to remain ignorant of those realities before? What happens when she learns more about them?
  • How do characters change throughout the book? How does Tess change? How does her view of her community change? What drives these changes?
  • What is the climax of the book? How is the conflict resolved? Is everything resolved? What questions and issues are left unanswered or unresolved? Do you think this was an intentional choice on the part of the author? Why? What is the author trying to say? Do difficult issues always have straightforward answers? What does Tess learn about this?

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