WORTHY OF THIS GREAT CITY
1. Ruth believes we’re on the brink of a new moral era. What do you think of her prophecy? Do you think that our ideas of responsibility will change now that we immediately see the consequences of our actions?
2. The narrator mocks the folk fest attendees for their self-congratulatory enlistment in civil rights battles long won. Given today’s political climate, would you agree? The music festival takes place at least a year before it’s described; does that change your opinion?
2. Ruth thinks that what we want determines what we allow ourselves to think. Do you agree? If so, why does Ruth believe as she does?
3. Why do you think she decides to speak out at the Folk Fest? Why speak out at all? Is she crazy? If so, to what extent?
4. The narrator, Con Manos, considers himself easy to dislike. Do you agree? Do you like or trust him?
5. Is a character in a novel an independent creation, or ultimately only an aspect of the author? Individuals in Worthy sometimes blend into each other. Does this help to define what is unique about them?
6. If Con Manos and Ruth Askew are both aspects of the author, what might be their actual relationship to each other? What’s the actual purpose of Con’s report? Who is it for?
7. Con Manos describes the current division in philosophy between those who believe in objective truth and those who think that what we call reality is inextricably involved with the human mind. Do you agree with one side or the other of the debate?
8. Worthy suggests that the greatness of an idea depends on timing and context. Do you agree? Are some statements in the novel deliberately thrown away, and if so, which ones? Does that make them seem less profound?
9. Ruth describes a situation at her radio station involving a marketing scheme popular some years ago. Why do you think the author employed this strategy?
10. Ruth is clearly a woman in extremity. Does that make her a sympathetic character? If she a likeable person?
11. David Cevallos is an artist and a rebel but also a politician. Does he abandon his creative nature in favor of political ambition? If so, why?
12. Jimmy Manetti is presented as a very ordinary man. Is evil usually dull, even stupid?
13. Is Thom Askew an admirable man? Did you think him charming or manipulative? Is he a brilliant politician? Is he a true romantic? What exactly does that mean?
14. Margery Haskell decides to embrace a conspiracy theory, in part influenced by her personal experience. Do you think her justified?
15. An auto accident is a crucial event in the novel. Do you think it was a simple accident? If so, was Ruth in any way responsible? If not, who might have been behind it, and why?
16. Ruth has an opinion about abstract and installation art. Do you agree with her?