1.) Early in the story, Gant refers to the rules of the Amish ministerial brethren as “manipulation.” He seems to believe these rules have been established to prevent the Plain People from being infected by the “worldly influence” of the English (the non-Amish). What’s your understanding of these regulations? Do you agree with Gant? Are they a means of manipulation, or what is the primary purpose behind them?
2.) When Gant tells Rachel of the bishop’s refusal to allow him to convert—thereby making it impossible for them to marry—she seems to accept the decision as the final word on the subject and tells Gant she can’t go against the bishop. Could you do that? If your church required that you give up any hope of marrying the person you love or that you disassociate yourself from a loved one, even a family member, would you be able to obey, or would you be more inclined to give up your church?
3.) Rachel and her mother, Susan, approach the assurance of salvation from different perspectives, which prompts the question from Rachel: “Do you really think it’s so wrong to have questions about God’s will for us? Don’t you think He would want us to understand His teachings?” How would you answer that question?
4.) What do you believe was the purpose behind Gant’s special gift to Rachel’s younger sister, Fannie?
5.) Why did Gant and Asa seem surprised to see Gideon doing the supper dishes? What’s the typical division of labor between Amish men and Amish women? How do you feel about this? Are tasks clearly marked in your household as to who does what? Does the system work well for you and your family?
6.) What do you believe to be Gant’s motivation for helping runaway slaves through the Underground Railroad? What prompts him to risk his own freedom through a jail sentence or, worse, to help others gain their freedom?