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Characters

There are only six fictional characters in the novel: Patrick McCarthy, Pam McCarthy, Chase Newman, Grant Grantham, Derek Ruger and The Preacher. The author intersperses the fictional lives of these characters with actual historical people. Each chapter unfolds by focusing on Patrick's interactions with one or more of these characters.

 

PAM:

  1. How does Pam's view of the world differ from Patrick's? How does Pam's relationship with Patrick give the reader insight into Patrick's character?
  2. How does Pam's role in the narration add perspective into the personal lives of two of America's most iconic historical figures? How is the Kennedy relationship a foil (mirror) for the McCarthy relationship? What are the pivotal events in the two marriages and how are they parallel?
  3. How does Patrick's personal knowledge of Jack and Jackie's lives influence his decision to become part of the assassination?
  4. Patrick says many times that he loves his wife and son, yet he sacrifices his family in the end. Could Pam have prevented Patrick's destructive path?

 

CHASE:

  1. Chase comes from money and privilege, yet he seems to be the most morally centered of all the characters.   How does Chase influence Patrick?   How does Chase's role as a reporter influence the narration of the novel?
  2. How does Chase's relationship with Grant foreshadow Grant's final deceit of Patrick?
  3. At what point does Chase realize that Patrick may have compromised his principles? Why doesn't he confront Patrick?
  4. How does Chase bring to the forefront the dilemma of the media in reporting news?

 

GRANT:

  1. From the beginning of the novel, Grant provides a contrast to Patrick's character. Though Patrick recognizes Grant's moral flaws, he still allows Grant to manipulate him and later influence his critical decision to join the conspiracy. Why? At what point does Patrick recognize that he has been duped by Grant and attempt to change the course of his relationship with Grant?
  2. How does Grant represent an important influence on American political policies?

 

DEREK RUGER:

  1. Is Ruger more than a one-dimensional villain? Is he a believable villain?
  2. What is revealed about Patrick's character in his interactions with Ruger?
  3. How does Patrick cope with Ruger's pathologically violent behavior? How does that foreshadow Patrick's breakdown in Vietnam?

 

THE PREACHER:

  1. Why have Patrick and The Preacher forged a deep friendship?
  2. In his conversations with The Preacher, Patrick reveals at least two reasons why Lee Harvey Oswald was unlikely to have been the gunman in the Texas Book Depository. What about Lee's childhood points to discrepancies in the Warren Commission Report?
  3. How does the Preacher provide catharsis for Patrick?
  4. At what point does the reader recognize the plot twist at the end of the novel?