Hannibal Free Public Library
Peace Like a River
June 27, 2011
Set in the
Leif Enger was raised in
What role do miracles play in Peace Like a River?
Throughout the book, Reuben is
preoccupied with his own breathing, and the
act of breathing functions in this story as a
metaphor for life itself. How does Reuben
cope with his ailment, and how is his
character influenced by it?
Consider the details of the
double homicide committed by Davy, Reuben's
older brother. Did you want Davy brought to
justice, or do you think justice has already
set mainly in rural
Swede, Reuben's imaginative,
prolific, and precocious younger sister,
creates an epic poem about a cowboy named
Sunny Sundown. Talk about Sunny's ongoing
saga as an ironic commentary on Reuben's
larger narrative. What are the parallels?
Besides the Sunny Sundown text,
several other outlaw tales, literary
allusions, biblical legends, and historical
asides are offered—by Swede or by Reuben
himself. Identify a few of these
stories-within-the-story, explaining how each
enriches or influences the main narrative.
Discuss the character of
Jeremiah Land, Reuben's father—and the
center of his moral compass. What are
Jeremiah's strengths, as a person and a
parent? Does he have any weaknesses? Explain
how the novel's dual themes of familial love
and ardent faith are met in this character.
Prayer is described in many
ways, and on many occasions, in Peace
Like a River. Reading this book, what
did you discover anything about the activity
of, reasons for, or consequences of prayer?
Recovering from a near-fatal
asthmatic collapse, Reuben muses: "The
infirm wait always, and know it." (p.
290) What is Reuben "waiting" for?
How is his waiting resolved? Can this analogy
be applied to any of the other characters?
Adapted from: http://www.readinggroupguides.com/guides3/peace_like_a_river1.asp