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This reading group guide for Ruth’s Journey
includes an introduction and discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. INTRODUCTION
Long before Tara, Scarlett, and Rhett, before the war that would divide a nation . . . there was Ruth. Now it’s time to learn her story through Ruth’s Journey.
Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate and written by New York Times
bestselling author Donald McCaig, Ruth’s Journey
brings magnificently to life one of the most beloved and intriguing characters in literature: Mammy from Gone with the Wind
Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s unforgettable classic, Gone with the Wind. TOPICS & QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. In Gone with the Wind
, the character called Mammy has no other name; why do you think Donald McCaig decided to give her a different name in this book, and why did he choose the name Ruth in particular?
2. In what ways does Solange Fornier’s personality resemble that of her granddaughter Scarlett O’Hara? In what ways are their lives similar, too?
3. One of the most painful scenes in Ruth’s Journey
takes place at a slave auction and shows a mother and child being separated when they are sold to different masters. After Ruth’s experiences at this auction, did you find it believable that she would come to be the devoted caretaker of baby Ellen and later of Ellen’s children? How was she changed by the events of that day?
4. Ruth frequently refers to “deportment” and judges those around her by how much of this quality they possess. What does she mean by the word and how was her understanding of it formed? Is Ruth generally a good judge of character?
5. What connection between Mammy and the Butler family is revealed in Ruth’s Journey
? Does this revelation change the way you perceive Mammy’s feelings about Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind
6. Jehu buys Ruth from Solange before he marries her, yet neglects to give Ruth her freedom when he can. He is her husband and
her legal owner. What are the ramifications of this when Jehu is arrested? Why would Jehu not have emancipated Ruth when it was still possible to do so? 7. Gone with the Wind
was published in 1936 and its portrait of slavery and its African-American characters are reflections of the commonly held beliefs of that time. Does Ruth’s Journey
present a more nuanced understanding of the reality of slavery? Do you think this novel is faithful to the spirit of Gone with the Wind
? Or in telling Mammy’s story and giving her a name and a voice, does it challenge some of the assumptions of that novel? Why?
8. Novelist Geraldine Brooks praised Ruth’s Journey,
calling it “exquisitely imagined” and “deeply researched” and saying that McCaig brought “to the foreground the most enigmatic and fascinating figure in Gone with the Wind
.” Did reading Ruth’s Journey
change the way you viewed Gone with the Wind
? In what ways?
9. McCaig begins his novel with two epigraphs, one from Gone with the Wind
and one from The Book of Ruth. Did the epigraphs inform your reading of the novel? In what ways?