1. In The Promise of Morning, Ann Shorey tells the story through two different viewpoints—Ellie’s and Matthew’s. How did these viewpoints help your understanding of the characters? Did it change your perception of some of their reactions or decisions?
2. At the beginning of The Promise of Morning, Ellie is overprotective of Julia. What kind of a message was she sending to her other children? Do we tend to do this with our own families?
3. Matthew refused to take Ellie seriously when she shared her hope of finding her father’s second family. If he’d reacted differently, how do you think his response might have helped her?
4. Matthew’s difficulties are seen as a judgment from God by certain townspeople. These same people leave his church. Have you ever been affected by a church split? What lessons did you learn in the aftermath?
5. Ruby was captivated by a life that seemed glamorous and exciting in contrast to her own. How would you counsel a friend who was going astray? Do you believe Arthur should have stepped in to stop her involvement? Could he have stopped her?
6. Ellie’s twin sons take her to task over her involvement with Marcus Beldon. Contrast her reaction to their intervention with how she might have responded had Molly said something similar?
7. In The Promise of Morning, several of the characters fail to keep promises. Are there any circumstances where it might be acceptable to go back on one’s word? Give an example.
8. Matthew objected to the play Macbeth because of an old prejudice. Was he justified in his stand? Where do you see similar reactions in today’s world? Do you have any old prejudices that might need to be reviewed in this light?
9. Ellie enjoyed Marcus Beldon’s attention because she saw him as educated and influential. Are we ever swayed when someone we see as more attractive than our spouse seeks us out? Is there such a thing as a “harmless” flirtation?
10. In managing the farm after Matthew left, Ellie discovered strengths she didn’t realize she possessed. This happens today when loved ones are in the military, or taken seriously ill. How do you visualize her readjustment to her former role after Matthew returned?
11. Traveling the southern Illinois circuit served as an object lesson for Matthew. Would he have learned the importance of remaining faithful to his church otherwise? Think of some occasions where you received your most important lessons—were they preached to you or did you learn the hard way?