Cuernavaca Discussion Questions
1. The relationships of father/son, mentor/student, protector/dependent, all related, appear throughout Cuernavaca and overlap at various points. How did the different examples of these relationships vary from one another?
2. Would you like to visit Cuernavaca and meet the people who live there? Or do you fear modern Mexico is a lawless, dangerous place you should avoid?
3. Many Mexicans feel a strong attachment to their “patrimony”—the history and native culture which came before them. Compare that to how most North Americans relate to their indigenous heritage. If you believe there’s a difference, how would you explain it?
4. Did Scott make the right choice at the end of the story? Were you surprised by his choice? What do you think motivated him to make that choice?
5. Was Felipe right to subordinate his political convictions to his sense of right and wrong, or should he have stayed true to his original conviction that what Oro wanted was truly best for Mexico? Recall that he still agreed strongly with Oro’s objectives, regardless of his misgivings about the methods used to achieve them.
6. Were Scott’s acts of redemption enough, or should he have done more? What more could he have done?
7. Has there been a person like Jerry in your life—someone who demonstrated extraordinary loyalty, or who went out of his way to help you in an extraordinary manner when under no responsibility to do so?
8. If you found yourself in Scott’s predicament—isolated, helpless, hopeless—what would you do to try to survive? Could you have survived the challenges Scott faced?
9. How much of the credit for Scott’s ultimate triumph over both his personal demon and his dire situation belongs to his own character? To Jerry? To Ana? To Rico’s courage? To coincidence and circumstances?
10. When Lisa helped Scott in his time of need, was he hallucinating or was she really there?
11. What was your reaction to Scott’s observation at the end of the story that he felt connected to Mexico in a way he didn’t understand, and that he felt as though he’d lived there far longer than his brief summer visit? What do you think it meant? Have you ever had feelings like those about a place you’ve visited?
12. Fast forward five years. What do you think Scott’s life will be like, and how do you think his experience in Cuernavaca will affect how that life unfolds?
13. Raul’s background may have contributed to his development into the type of person he ultimately became. Does that cause you to have some measure of sympathy for him, despite his behavior? Contrast Raul’s story with Scott’s privileged youth, and how Scott’s upbringing may have contributed to flaws in his character.
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Rick would love to talk to your book club or school literature group about Cuernavaca. He enjoys telling the story behind the novel, and talking about what modern day Mexico is really like. It’s not at all what you think from listening to the popular media, and Rick can open your eyes to the real Mexico, drawn from real life experience living in the interior of the country, far from the coasts and the tourist areas. Suggested discussion topics for your club appear below.
Invite him to meet your group!