1. Given the constraints of their culture, were the women of Fergus right to insist on shooting against the men at the box social? In what other ways do the women show their independence in this story?
2. Was it unwise to allow the single young women to put their lunches in an auction attended by all sorts of men, some of whom were known ruffians? Should the organizers have taken steps to make the picnic safer and more pleasant for the women? Would the women have let them?
3. Hiram Dooley is a quiet man who believes it’s better to be silent than to put your foot in your mouth. Are there times when Hiram should have spoken up, but didn’t?
4. Gossip plays an important and harmful role in this story. How are Trudy and Isabel hurt by the gossip? How can the Ladies’ Shooting Club enjoy their fellowship without letting their tongues harm others?
5. Ethan bides his time in courting Trudy, to the point of exasperating Hiram, who is also a slow mover. How does his delay hurt Trudy? Is there a right time to act? What can you do if you feel you’ve missed the ideal moment to strike in a sensitive situation?
6. Rose feels that Hiram and Trudy have grieved too long. They are uncomfortable when she decides to appropriate Violet’s clothing. How have you handled disposing of a dead loved one’s belongings? Would you keep quiet, as the Dooleys did, and let Violet’s sister have her things?
7. How does Libby’s secret grief over her childlessness color her memories of Mary Fennel? Should she have told Isabel what her mother said to her in the past?
8. The five friends, Hiram, Libby, Trudy, Ethan, and Griffin, agree never to reveal Isabel’s past to her. Are they right in doing this? If not, at what point should they tell her?
9. Though Hiram and Libby have been acquainted about twelve years, there is much they still don’t know about each other. What issues should they discuss before they enter marriage?
10. Ethan berates himself for handling the siege at the Martin Ranch badly. What could he have done differently? If you were sheriff, how would you have approached the situation?
11. Even though Bitsy and Augie stop serving liquor, some of the church members still hesitate to enter the former saloon. How do various shooting club members show their support to the Moores, Vashti, and Goldie?
12. The people of Fergus often base their evaluation of one another on appearances and clothing. How did appearance affect Cyrus’s first impression of Rose? Rose’s impression of Bitsy? How do you avoid passing judgment based on outward appearance?