1. In the 306th Bombardment Group, 315 men went to England in September 1942 in the 35 original 9-man combat crews. Of these, 106 were killed, 88 became POWs, 10 left combat due to wounds, and 9 were evadees. How do you think the men coped with such distressing statistics? What coping techniques did you see among the characters? How do you think modern Americans would tolerate such circumstances?
2. Allie experiences rationing and shortages on the home front. Do you have any personal or family experiences of World War II home front life? How would you have dealt with these difficulties?
3. Walt and Allie’s love is built by letters. In this day of email and instant messages, it’s hard to imagine a letter taking two to six weeks to go overseas, and waiting twice that long for a response. How does this delay affect Walt and Allie’s communication and decisions?
4. Our world harshly judges those born less than attractive. How much of Allie’s self-image problem stems from having a gorgeous mother who values beauty? How does Agatha Montclair’s story shape Mary Miller’s perception of her daughter? What problems arise from Allie’s view of herself as plain?
5. Allie says, “Self-pity is nothing but pride in disguise.” Agree or disagree? Why?
6. Describe Walt’s relationship with his brothers. How have comparisons to Jack and Ray affected Walt? Have you noticed similar issues in your family?
7. At the beginning of the story, Walt says white lies are like “ball bearings in the machinery of society,” but by the end he says they’re like “incendiary bombs, mangling and melting and burning.” How is this revealed in Walt’s life? In your experience, which statement is closer to the truth?
8. To Allie, “silence is a truthful solution to a dilemma.” Can silence be dishonest? Was it for Allie? For Walt?
9. Walt realizes his lies stem from pride. How is this manifested in his story? In general, what part does pride play in sin?
10. When Walt confesses his lie to his crew, many of the men are angry. How do you feel about their response? Does the ongoing nature of his dishonesty make it worse in their eyes? Does his faith make them come down on him harder?