Giant Book Club Discussion Questions

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1. What is the tension between Babcia and Dziadek about? Was it always there or is it a result of their new responsibilities as primary caregivers? How does their marriage impact the two grandchildren they care for?

2. What does Gosia think of herself? How does this change throughout the novel? Is this self-image ever contradictory? If so, as a result of what?

3. What role does freedom play in the book? How is it manifested through the characters and their surroundings?

4. Who, according to you, is the most sympathetic character in the novel and why? (Whom do you empathize with the most?)

5. Who, according to you, is the most dynamic character in the novel and why? (Who grows and changes the most throughout the story?)

6. What is the role of Catholicism in the novel? Does it suppress or empower the characters? How so? Does it impact various characters differently?

7. Is Gosia loyal or disloyal? To whom and how?

8. Do Poles as a nation have an inferiority or superiority complex? How is this manifested in the novel? Share your own experiences with your nationality. Are you proud, ashamed, a combination of the two, or indifferent of your national identity?

9. What is the role of food in the novel?

10. What role does humourplay in the novel? Is the book funny? Why or why not?

11. What’s adult about Gosia? What’s childlike about her? How does she manipulate and negotiate the two? Is this ever to her benefit or always to her detriment? Do adults expect more of children who are big for their age or overdeveloped?

12. Compare the transformations in Gosia’s body to the transformations in Poland. What sort of messages, lessons or warnings can you draw from these parallels?

13. Discuss the motif of ‘zero’ in the novel? Does Gosia in fact start from nothing in Part II of the novel? Is her final transformation and ultimate decision to leave Toronto at all based on the foundations built in Poland, or is it all skill and experience gained in Canada?

14. Does Gosia accept her Canadian identity at the end of the novel? What makes her Canadian? What makes you Canadian? Share your experiences with identity and belonging.

15. Why do Babcia and Dziadek lie to the girls and call the move to Canada ‘a vacation’? Is this necessary or simply cruel? How would the journey and the novel be different if they told the truth from the start?

16. Before the girls leave Poland, her friend and neighbor Beata tells Gosia that the Satellite States “aren’t places…they’re Russian places…they’re not real places like Canada or Denmark.” What does she mean by this? Is this sentiment shared by other characters in the novel? How does this attitude manifest itself elsewhere in the novel?

17. Gosia is a big kid who gets bullied in school. How does she react to the bullying? How does she combat it? Does the bullying shape her in any way as she matures?

18. Discuss the role of secondary characters in the novel: Tata, Serge, Althea, Mr. Pantin, David. In what ways do they illuminate and develop the main characters?

19. How does Gosia show her rage and resentment towards her mother?

20. Great American short story writer Flannery O’Connor once said that an ending has to be both unexpected and inevitable. Is this the case in Giant?

21. Is there a sense of payback or retribution in Gosia’s actions at the end of novel?

22. Discuss the title of the novel. Did it work? Add, take away from the story?

23. Discuss the cover image of the novel. Did it influence your image of the narrator?

24. Discuss the point of view of the narrative. How would the story differ were it told from the third-person perspective?