Discussion Questions:

1. What is the significance of the Mountain? Why must Charity go there?

2. Did she have a name on the Mountain? Already five years old when "brought down," why doesn't she remember her life there?

3. How old is Charity?

4. Why does Wharton choose to have Charity work in a library?

5. If Lucius hadn't come, would Charity have ever changed her life? Why hasn't Charity saved her earnings and left, as she planned to when she first obtained her job?

6. Why does Lawyer Royall stay in North Dormer? (Why is this for Charity's good?) Why did Royall come back in the first place?

7. How old is lawyer Royall?

8. What was Mrs. Royall like? Was she a mother to Charity? Why does Charity not think of her as a mother? (Why does Wharton make this authorial choice?)

9. Why should Wharton choose to have Verena Marsh be deaf? What does her deafness represent? What does her presence in the house  accomplish? (Notice that her name is nice and green. marshes aren't stagnant like swamps.) What other models of adult womanhood exist in North Dormer?

10. Why does Royall share Charity's history with Lucius Harney?

11. What is Liff Hyatt's significance to the story? Does it matter that he shares initials with Harney?

12. Why does Ally think Harney and Annabel will marry? What does Ally know that Charity doesn't know?

13. Why does Charity write the note to Harney releasing him from his obligation to her? If it gives her a "sovereign right," why doesn't she inform him of her pregnancy?

14. What effect does Wharton accomplish with Mary Hyatt's death?

15. What is the significance of the blue brooch? What sort of symbol is it in comparison to the Lily of the Valley Charity would have chosen for herself? Is it significant that Royall in essence repurchases the blue brooch?

16. Is this a happy ending or a tragic one?

--Contributed by Bethany Reid, Everett Community College