Questions and background links for Independent People discussions

Here are some questions some of our INL Reads! readers have posed about our first book, Independent People.

At the end of this post are some links to more background information on the novel.

1. How did you react to Independent People‘s main character, Bjartur of Summerhouses?

2. Why do you think Laxness chose a personality like Bjartur to be the main character of Independent People?

3. What discussion topics would you like to ask?


I found these discussion questions on-line. They can be used to discuss any novel:The following general questions can be applied to any novel, and they provide a good starting point for creating your own discussion questions for a given work.

  • What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?
  • What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the novel? What do you think he or she is trying to get across to the reader?
  • Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?
  • How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
  • In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of the author’s world view?
  • Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?

    1. Which character do you like the most and why? The least and why?
    1. What passage from the book stood out to you?
    1. Are there situations and/or characters you can identify with, if so how?
    1. Did you learn something you didn’t know before?
    1. Do you feel as if your views on a subject have changed by reading this text?
    1. Have you had a life changing revelation from reading this text?
    1. What major emotion did the story evoke in you as a reader?
    1. At what point in the book did you decide if you liked it or not? What helped make this decision?
    1. Name your favorite thing overall about the book. Your least favorite?
    1. If you could change something about the book what would it be and why?
  1. Describe what you liked or disliked about the writer’s style?

Here are some on-line links to background information:

Bill Valgardson sent me a link to his blog entry on Trollope’s dinner party in Reykjavik Harbor in 1878. He suggests it is an interesting contrast to the peasant world inhabited by Bjartur and his fellow farmers. He has several other postings about the visit by this contingent of wealthy English tourists who go to Iceland to view the geysers.

Other links:

47 quotes from Halldór Laxness:

A brief review by Danny Yee

Nobel Awards Commentary on Halldor Laxness

Another Review of Independent People


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