1. Deep inside, most women wish they were beautiful. How is Ruth’s beauty a blessing and how is it a curse?
2. Jack is a natural leader. Is his desire for a promotion good or bad? How does his ambition change throughout the story? How are Jack Novak and Jeff Babcock alike and different?
3. The Eighth Air Force took heavy losses before fighter escort was available all the way to the targets. On Aug. 17, 1943, they lost 60 of 376 bombers, and on “Black Thursday,” October 14, 1943, they lost 60 of 320 over Schweinfurt, with ten men on each plane. How did those young men deal with such staggering losses? How do you think Americans of today would deal with the same circumstances?
4. Although Jack has no desire to be a pastor, he pushes for that goal. Why do you think he does so? Have you ever tried to fill a role you weren’t cut out for?
5. Ruth feels a great responsibility for her family. What circumstances in her life factor into this? How does Aunt Pauline manage to manipulate Ruth? What does Ruth have to learn before she can stand up to her aunt?
6. Five hundred women served as flight nurses during World War II, and seventeen were killed in action. Considering the role of women at the time, flight nurses were pioneers in many ways. What ways do you see?
7. Ruth encounters behavior that would lead to sexual harassment lawsuits nowadays. How does she deal with this? Does it work? How does Burnsey get away with it?
8. Are Jack’s plans to romance Ruth clever, loving, manipulative, selfish? Is his proposal any different than his earlier plans?
9. Why do you think Jack reacts the way he does when he discovers Ruth’s secret? Why does May react so differently? What was your gut reaction to Ruth’s secret?
10. At the beginning of the story, Ruth says she doesn’t need friends. Is she telling the truth? Why does she reject female friends? Ruth also deals with cattiness and gossip among her fellow nurses. Why do you think female relationships, which can be so close and supportive, can veer in the opposite direction?