The Silenced (Paperback)
Milkweed Editions, 9781571319371, 448pp.
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
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Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. Marena’s mother told her, “Every thing of beauty… is a form of resistance.” Later in the novel, these words catch the attention of Mr. Greengritch. How does beauty counter the aims of the Zero Tolerance Party (ZT)?
2. Marena claims that she would rather die than betray her loved ones. Is there any space in the resistance for a lesser level of commitment?
3. Three families are presented in the novel: Marena’s, Dex’s, and Mr. Greengritch’s. How do their families influence these characters? What is the ZT’s interest in family ties?
4. Marena struggles to remember her life before the ZT took over. What is the importance of memory for Marena? For Mr. Greengritch?
5. While the novel is largely about Marena, Mr. Greengritch also narrates several sections. Why is his perspective important? In what ways is his character both juxtaposed with and parallel to Marena?
6. When Mr. Greengritch takes over Marena’s class, he gives them a writing assignment: to describe what they think is “absolutely true” about themselves (69). What is the purpose of this assignment? What does he expect to learn about the students?
7. The Zero Tolerance Party revoked labor visas and created a “racial purity index.” What threat does the ZT imagine is posed by the people they classify as “deficient”? Although the novel is overtly focused on free speech, how does the underlying narrative about race and citizenship status complicate this theme?
8. While The Silenced was inspired by the real White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany, the novel is set in a recognizable near future. What methods of state control and surveillance are present in the world of the novel, and how do they compare to those used in our world today?