How do Lila's readings from the Bible help her come to terms with the obstacles to her happiness?Lila and the Bible:
  • Opening a random page in the Bible Lila stole from the church, she finds Ezekiel 16 (36-37) which describes a newborn baby left 'weltering in its blood' in a field. How will she apply this idea to her own life?
  • How does Lila make sense of the four headed angel that is described in the first chapter of Ezekiel? (68)
  • Lila reads a passage in Ezekiel about a fire which came up out of nowhere, and then she copies the passage over 15 times. How does that passage connect to her thinking now? (106)
  • Lila copies passages from Ezekiel which describe the sound of  'the wings of creatures in the firmament like the noise of great waters'. She sits in the corner, hugs her knees and thinks about what happened to Doane's people when the Dust Storms began to blow and the hard times really got bad. (108-09)
  • What does Lila think about this second time as she remembers when Doll went off on her own and was gone for four days? (108-09) What terrible words out of Ezekiel is Lila afraid she must hear? (110)
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  • Lila is not sure how to respond to Rev. Ames' letter, so she goes to the river to wash her clothes. Look at the passage in which she describes the way her dress (self? soul?) takes various forms in the water. What bible story does it make her think of? (78) 
  • The morning of her engagement, Lila connects this passage to her thoughts about her own face? (82) (What happened when Rev. Ames saw her face for the first time?)
  • During their engagement, when Lila goes up to the cemetery to tend the roses at the graves of Mrs. Ames and her baby, she wonders about what it will be like when they are all dead and resurrected. How will that cause problems? (What would Doll say?) (pp. 90-93)
  • For a while Lila had liked the idea of resurrection if it meant seeing Doll again, but now when she thinks of the Day of Judgment, she fears what will happen to Doll? What sins has Doll committed? What sins did they all commit when the hard times came? (100-01)
  • Rev. Ames tries to put the anger of the Lord in Ezekiel in context for Lila by explaining why Israel is so special to the Lord and to world history, but Lila understands the text at a much more basic level. How does she link the images and situations to her own experiences with Doll and Donae's people? (125-26)
  • Lila also tells him about the passage from Ezekiel about the baby born in the field and cast away. How does Rev. Ames understand it? (129-30) (Is this moment important?)
  • As they sit together in the parlor, Lila seems to unwind a bit. She asks him about 'salting a baby', and Rev. Ames explains by referring to Calvin's interpretation of the verse. He says that Calvin's explanation for why God permits suffering is that this pain is necessary for people to recognize grace. (132)
  • And Rev. Ames tells her that perhaps the suffering in his own life has only been a preparation for meeting her. Is Lila ready to think the same way about him?

Doll:
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  • On the evening of her wedding to Rev. Ames, Lila imagines meeting Doll on the road again and she tells her that she is married and living in a good house. How does she imagine Doll responding? (96)
  • Only then, Lila's thoughts travel to the day Doll and she abruptly left Tammany and fled through the woods, not on the road. She remembers the red scar on Doll's face. Why did they flee? (Lila has never mentioned this scar to herself before? Why not?) (97)
  • That same evening, Lila imagines that she is pleasing Rev. Ames to please Doll. (Is she being truthful with herself?)  (97)
  • Lila's thoughts return to that afternoon at the Boughtons when the reverend got on the topic of how the unbaptised are damned. (Remember when Lila thought of this memory before.) Lila thinks of the knife Doll has given her. What crime is Lila afraid that Doll has committed? Why has Lila not thought of this before? (97-98)
  • For a while Lila had liked the idea of resurrection if it meant seeing Doll again, but now when she thinks of the Day of Judgment, she fears what will happen to Doll? What sins has Doll committed? What sins did they all commit when the hard times came? (100-01)
  • On the morning after Rev. Boughton made his comments on the lost souls in China, Lila unbaptizes herself. What terrible memory comes to her as she faces pregnancy? (Note that the last time she thought of this moment, she did not follow her emotions this far. [See (See p. 22) at the river]. Lila decides as she thinks of that moment that she will only stay in this town long enough to put this baby in his arms. Then she will leave. Why? (103-104)
  • What fears and dread does Lila think she may be passing on to her own baby? (when she thinks of Doll's scar) (106)
  • At home, Lila copies passages from Ezekiel which describe the sound of  'the wings of creatures in the firmament like the noise of great waters'. She sits in the corner, hugs her knees and thinks about what happened to Doane's people when the Dust Storms began to blow and the hard times really got bad. How did life get truly miserable for them? How did Doane's personality change? (108-09)
  • Lila then remembers the time when Doll made her offer to be the bride of an old man who owned a decent house. What did the old man tell her when she visited him with a ribbon in her hair? (114-15) Can Lila really believe that she is in the same situation with Rev. Ames? (116)
  • Lila thinks again of when Doll abandoned her. How is the memory different this time? (124)
  • How does Rev. Ames get Doll to finally tell him about Doll?  (126) What does she say? (Is this an important moment for the marriage?) (126-27)
Doane's People:
  • How does Rev. Ames explain the existence of poverty and suffering in the world according to Christian teaching? (77) Will Lila embrace these ideas?
  • Lila copies passages from Ezekiel which describe the sound of  'the wings of creatures in the firmament like the noise of great waters'. She sits in the corner, hugs her knees and thinks about what happened to Doane's people when the Dust Storms began to blow and the hard times really got bad. How did life get truly miserable for them? How did Doane's personality change? (108-09)
  • How did Doane's people finally break apart? What happened to Doane himself? (110-11)
  • How does Lila reconcile herself to the terrible injustice of a life for people who are not only poor, tired and hungry, but even the wind soils them and makes their faces run with tears?  (112)
  • Mellie's Courage: Lila remembers the time that her friend Mellie, who was never scared, had climbed up on the back of a bull, and she thinks of asking the Reverend, "What could the old man say about all those people born with more courage than they could find a way to spend, and then there was nothing to do with it but just get by?" (39)
  • The pride of Doane's people. Why did Doane's people like to avoid townspeople? (41)
  • What verses from the Bible does she associate with the Good Times with Doanes's People? (45)
  • Mellie gets herself batized at a camp meeting.  What did Doane think?  How does Lila think she will feel if she ever gets baptized? (61-66)
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  • When Lila thinks about a real relationship between a man and a woman, she thinks of Marcelle's relationship with Doane. What was their relationship like? Does she conclude that relationships are even necessary to existence? (75-76)

The River (and Baptism): 
  • Lila is not sure how to respond to Rev Ames' note, so she just decides to go to work at the old couple's house. Afterwards, she goes to the river to wash her clothes. Look carefully at the passage in which she describes the way her dress (self? soul?) takes various forms in the water.
  • The day after Lila told rev. Ames he should marry her, Lila goes fishing at the river and brings her bible along. What passage from Ezekiel does she decide to copy? How does Lila connect this passage to her thoughts about her own face? (82)
  • Lila catches a catfish and is carrying it back to the shack when she sees Rev. Ames waiting for her at the shack. Describe the scene in which he baptizes her (83)
  • Lila revisits the time after Rev. Boughton referred to all the lost souls in China: The next morning Lila goes to the river to wash off her baptism.  (She has thought of this morning before. (See p. 22) [at the river] What does she realize while she is bathing in the river? (103)
  • This second time she recognizes her pregnancy, a terrible memory. (Note that the last time she thought of this moment, she did not follow her emotions this far.)  Lila decides as she thinks of that moment that she will only stay in this town long enough to put this baby in his arms. Then she will leave. Why?  (103-104)
  • Doll and the old woman bathe the little girl (6-7)
  • the first time she went to baptism class at the church (18)
  • the moment when the storm bird is caught in Rev. Ames' house when she first started to think she was pregnant? (19)
  • Boughton's comment about the lost souls in China? What does Rev. Ames think about the issue? Why does that upset Lila? (21)
  • What does she do at the river after she hears Rev. Boughton's comment about the lost souls in China? Why? (21-22)
  • Morning after stealing Bible Lila goes to the river to bathe and tries to remember her mother. What can she recall? (37-38)
  • Lila describes the morning at her cabin. (43)
  • Mellie gets herself baptized at a camp meeting  What did Doane think?  How does Lila think she will feel if she ever gets baptized? (61-66)
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Courtship with Rev. Ames:
  • Describe the moment Lila and Rev. Ames first see each other at a service where Rev. Ames is baptising a crying baby (10)
  • Describe what happened the first time she went to baptism class at the church (18)
  • After Boughton's comment about the lost souls in China? What does Rev. Ames think about the issue? Why does that upset Lila? (21)
  • What does she do at the river after she hears Rev. Boughton's comment about the lost souls in China? Why? (21-22) How does she break the news of her pregnancy? What does he make her promise never to do? (25) Look too at the second time she thinks through this moment.  (103)
  • What does Lila think during her first visit to his wife's grave? (32-33)
  • What kind of conversations does Lila have in her mind with Rev. Ames (34)
  • What made Lila decide to get baptised? What happened to Lila when she went to the church for baptism class? (This is the second time she has thought about this memory.) (34-35)
  • Lila remembers the time that her friend Mellie, who was never scared, had climbed up on the back of a bull, and she thinks of asking the Reverend, "What could the old man say about all those people born with more courage than they could find a way to spend, and then there was nothing to do with it but just get by?" (39)
  • Who does Lila hear in the brush outside her cabin as she thnks about that moment in her past? What does she grab to use to defend herself? (Doll's Knife) (54-55) Instead of being mean to him the next day, as she had considered, Lila suddenly hugs Rev. Ames in his garden . (56-58)
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  • First Prayer:  What prayer does she say while working in Rev. Ames' garden? (71)
  • When Rev. Ames hands her his note, what memory does it trigger in Lila? (72)
  • Rev. Ames' note tells her that he really does think about existence sometimes and he does not just recite scripture by rote. That sends Lila off on a thought stream about existence. What does she think of life? (74-75)
  • When Lila thinks about a real relationship between a man and a woman, she thinks of Marcelle's relationship with Doane. What was their relationship like? Does she conclude that relationships are even necessary to existence? (75-76)
  • In Rev. Ames' note he tries to explain to her how he has found meaning in life through faith. He likens faith to a father holding his hands out to a toddler who is just learning to walk. (76-77) How does he explain the existence of poverty and suffering in the world? (77)
  • Lila is not sure how to respond to this letter, so she just decides to go to work at an old couple's house. Afterwards, she goes to the river to wash her clothes. Look carefully at the passage in which she describes the way her dress (self? soul?) takes various forms in the water.
  • Lila walks into town to go to the store, and when she passes the church Rev. Ames is there. He comes out to walk and talk with her. As they discuss whether she should be baptized, what suddenly pops out of her mouth? How does he respond? (79-81)
  • The day after Lila told Rev. Ames he should marry her, Lila goes fishing at the river and brings her bible along. What passage from Ezekiel does she decide to copy? How does Lila connect this passage to her thoughts about her own face? (82)
  • Lila catches a catfish and is carrying it back to the shack when she sees Rev. Ames waiting for her at the shack. Describe the scene in which he baptizes her.
  • During their engagement, when Lila goes up to the cemetery to tend the roses at the graves of Mrs. Ames and her baby, she wonders about what it will be like when they are all dead and resurrected. How will that cause problems? (What would Doll say?) (pp. 90-93)
Marriage to Rev. Ames:
  • When Rev. Ames exclaims,"Dear, Lila, we're married. For better or worse!", she replies, "We'll see about that." and then she immediately feels guilty. Why can't she trust him? (93-95)
  • The next morning Lila went to the river to wash off her baptism.  (She has thought of this morning before. (See p. 22) [at the river] What does she realize while she is bathing in the river? (103) 
  • After Lila 'un-baptized' herself at the river, she went back to the Ames' house and put on the new blue dress that he had bought for her and the new white sandals as well. (She is preparing to tell Rev. Ames important news.) She thinks of how the girls in St. Louis told her to just pretend she was pretty. (22) After she tells Rev. Ames that she is pregnant, he makes her promise never to leave again without taking her wedding ring. (23-24)
  • How does Rev. Ames' behavior change after he learns that Lila is pregnant? One morning Lila finds him in the kitchen after a sleepless night and he explains that he has been having thoughts he is afraid to even pray about. What  has been worrying him? (105)
  • Lila worries about whether 'unbaptizing herself' will hurt the baby inside her. How does Rev. Ames reassure her? (105)
  • When Lila walks that night with Rev. Ames, what miracle do they witness? (107)
  • At home, Lila copies passages from Ezekiel which describe the sound of  'the wings of creatures in the firmament like the noise of great waters'. She sits in the corner, hugs her knees and thinks hard about what happened to Doane's people when the Dust Storms began to blow and the hard times really got bad. (108-09)
  • Lila's pregnanacy shows more and more, and Rev. Ames tries to be kind to her in every way he can, including seeing less of Boughton. On a walk together he asks her what she is thinking about and she says 'existence'. (112-13) but she is thinking again of leaving him.
  • After Rev. Ames hints to her that she is, for him, proof of God's grace, Lila thinks of all the looks she has had from townspeople that hint at how 'unseemly' the town considers their marriage to be. (114)
  • Lila then remembers the time when Doll made her offer to be the bride of an old man who owned a decent house. What did the old man tell her when she visited him with a ribbon in her hair? (114-15) Can Lila really believe that she is in the same situation with Rev. Ames? (116)
  • When Rev. Ames explains what 'the firmament' is to Lila, she thinks to herself about what an ignorant child she still is, and she remembers the time in school class when she was embarassed because she did not know the name of the country she lived in. (117-18)
  • And then Lila blurts out the truth: she tells Rev. Ames about the time that Doll convinced her to offer herself as a bride to an old man.  Lila can tell she has hurt him. What does he say to her when they get home, and how does Lila respond? (119-121)
  • As they sit together in the parlor, Lila seems to unwind a bit. She asks him about 'salting a baby', and Rev. Ames explains by referring to Calvin's interpretation of the verse from Ezekiel. Calvin's explanation for why God permits suffering is that this pain is necessary for people to recognize grace. (131-32)
  • And Rev. Ames tells her that perhaps the suffering in his own life has only been a preparation for meeting her.
St. Louis:
  • After Lila 'un-baptized' herself at the river, she went back to the Ames' house and put on the new blue dress that he had bought for her and the new white sandals as well. (She is preparing to tell Rev. Ames that she is pregnant.) She thinks of how the girls in St. Louis told her to just pretend she was pretty. (22) 
  • When Lila is deciding whether or not to talk to Ames at his house, she remembers how much she hates the 'tansy tea' they drank in St. Louis. (28)
  • After meeting Rev Ames for the first time, she is sure it is time for her to leave this town and go anywhere (except St. Louis). (32) 
  • After working in Rev. Ames' garden for the first time, he comes out to thank her and invites her to talk with him again. She declines and then thinks again about her looks. She remembers that time in St. Louis when the girls tried to make her look pretty and then told her to just pretend she is pretty. What happened to Lila there? (34)
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  • Why won't Lila go into Mrs. Graham's parlor? (How does it remind her of St. Louis?) (70)
  • After Lila gets the note from Rev. Ames, she thinks of St. Louis again. What did she learn about 'hoping' from the girls there? (73)
  • Just before Rev. Ames baptizes Lila (and the couple becomes engaged), Lila thinks that what they are doing is a bad idea. She says, "I got St. Louis behind me, and tansy tea, and pretending I'm pretty. Wearing high-heel shoes. Wasn't no good at that life, but I did try. I got shame like a habit, the only thing I feel except when I'm alone." (86)
  • Later in that same scene, Lila tells Rev. Ames that she worked in a whorehouse in St. Louis (89), and he tells her that she has just been baptized and all her sins have been forgiven.
  • After Rev. Boughton spoke of the lost souls of the unbaptized, Lila thinks of the girls she knew in St. Louis. She says, "Them women in St. Louis, I believe adultery is about the only thing they was ever up to. And there was no one to help them with any of it. Their sins. So I guess they're all just lost?" (98)
  • After Lila thinks of Mrs. Graham's suggestion that she stop chewing her nails, Lila thinks again of the day that the girls in St. Louis gave her a makeover, to no avail. (124)