1. Dr. David Sebastian is aware that holding a negative opinion of a patient could actually affect his judgment and even the course of treatment for a patient. In spite of that, he has a difficult time with remaining objective about Jeremiah Gant, largely because of his close friendship with Rachel, her mother, Susan, and his other Amish friends and patients. Have you or someone you know ever battled with similar difficulties in being impartial toward another person based, not on fact, but rather on your fear that that person might be a poor influence on or even a danger to someone you care about? If so, how did you handle this dilemma?
2. Phoebe tries to explain to Rachel and her mother her conviction that providing shelter to runaway slaves is God’s will, even though it’s against the law of the times. Do you think she’s trying to align her own motives with God’s will, or do you believe there are events that call for the breaking of man’s law so that God’s will can be accomplished? Examples?
3. Eli, Rachel’s deceased husband, is another example of the breaking of man’s law, but in this situation it was because he was trying to protect Rachel from attack. Even though he knew he was violating the Amish way by meeting violence with violence, he loved his wife too much not to make a stand against her attackers. How do you, personally, feel about this tenet of the Amish faith—to abstain from violence even in the face of violence being inflicted upon you?
4. How do you interpret Samuel Beiler’s behavior toward Rachel? Do you find him protective or manipulative?
5. Rachel indicates in her thoughts that her anger and resentment toward Samuel could be mitigated by his simply talking with her as a friend rather than as her deacon or an adversary. Have you ever had an experience with someone you know well wherein hard feelings or conflict possibly could have been avoided had that person treated you with respect and kindness rather than indignation or censure? How did you handle that confrontation?