Hannibal Free Public Library
God Help the Child
1. Morrison opens God Help the Child with a character insisting, “It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me.” How does this set up what follows?
2. Multiple themes weave through the novel: childhood trauma, racism, skin color, social class, freedom. What would you say is the primary theme, and why?
3. Kirkus Reviews said of the book, “As in the darkest fairy tales, there will be fire and death.” In what other ways is God Help the Child like a fairy tale?
4. Over the course of an otherwise realistic novel, Bride’s body reverts from a curvy woman to an undeveloped girl. What’s going on there?
5. Several of the primary characters have different names from the ones they received at birth: Bride, Sweetness, Rain. What do these new names tell us about the characters?
6. At different points in the novel, Morrison switches from individual characters’ voices to third-person narration. How does this affect the reader’s understanding of what’s happening?
7. Why is Bride so uninterested in digging below the surface with Booker?
8. Discuss Bride’s friendship with Brooklyn. Over and over, Bride says how much she trusts Brooklyn, and what a good friend she is. What do these assertions tell us about Bride’s character? Does it matter that Brooklyn is white, with dreadlocks?
9. For as much as Sweetness hated Bride’s skin color, Bride turned it into an asset—as Jeri says on page 36, “Black sells. It’s the hottest commodity in the civilized world.” What changed from the time Bride was born until now? Have things really changed, or changed only on the surface?
10. Bride testified against Sofia to please her mother. On page 42 Sweetness recalls, “After Lula Ann’s performance in that court and on the stand I was so proud of her, we walked the streets hand in hand.” Why did Sweetness care so much about this trial?