Questions for Book Clubs

Following are suggested questions for book groups reading Fresh Water from Old Wells:By the road

  1. Cindy Henry McMahon discovered the title, Fresh Water from Old Wells, on her research trip to Macon, GA—her very first foray on this journey. Why is the title an apt one for McMahon’s memoir? What are some of the ways the author uses the imagery and symbolism of different forms of water?
  2. What were the similarities and differences between the author’s grandfather, Walter L. Moore, and her father, Al Henry? Why did Al develop such strong animosity for his father-in-law? What did this mean for Carol?
  3. How has your understanding of domestic violence been changed by reading Fresh Water from Old Wells? What did you learn about it that you didn’t know before?
  4. The concept of “radical forgiveness” arises throughout Fresh Water from Old Wells. What are instances of this concept in recent events in the South and beyond? What hope does this forgiveness give us in times of terrorism and strife? What strategies does this book suggest for how to forgive ourselves and each other?
  5. The title of each chapter of Fresh Water from Old Wells points to the central metaphor for that piece of the story. Which of these images did you find particularly meaningful? Why?
  6. Discuss the ways in which the Henry family story echoed the history of the times. How did events in the larger world affect this family, and how did the Henry family touch history?
  7. In the prologue, McMahon says, “Perhaps others would one day read my story and find inspiration to shine a light on the dark places from their own pasts.” Are there ways in which McMahon’s story can help us see our own lives differently? How is it relevant for those of us with dark parts of our own pasts?
  8. What surprised you about Fresh Water from Old Wells?

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