Pale Surface

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Questions for Book Groups

  1. In what ways does Douglas follow what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey? How does his journey differ from the formula Campbell laid out? (The formula is available by searching online for Joseph Campbell + hero’s journey.)
  1. Compare Douglas’s character at the beginning and the end of the book. In what ways does he change? 
  1. When the first Fr. Dimitrios discovers that his brother is working with the Nazis against Greece, he  is faced with two strong traditional loyalties: to his blood family and to his country.  What else might he have done in that situation? Do you believe what he did was right in the circumstances?
  1. In Greek tragedy, heroes are often commanded by two different gods to do conflicting actions and the displeased god whose command was not obeyed punishes the hero. Can you name other characters in this story who face a dilemma—who need to choose between two opposing courses of action?
  1. The younger Fr. Dimitrios has chosen to follow his grandfather’s footsteps, even to serving as priest in the same village. When he discovers his grandfather’s secret, his love for him changes from idolization to empathy. Does Fr. Dimitrios need to stay in the village after that discovery? What does Ellen’s visit tell you about that choice?
  1. Spiros’s whole life, he has wanted Vassilia’s love. What does he discover about his feelings for Vassilia and for his wife Sofia, after his stroke?
  1. Does Spiros ever have any understanding of his son’s need for his love? Does he finally notice Manolis’s efforts to please him?
  1. Can you find the moment when George Hanson lets go of his ambitions and begins to look forward to a quiet life with his wife? Do you think Denise and Roger will make a success of the business?
  1. What future do you see for Denise and Tonio?
  1. After he gets his passport back, will Douglas stay on Crete? What do you think he will do with his life?
  1. No Minoan palace has yet been found on the Western end of Crete. Do you think there might be a Minoan palace on Rhodopou Peninsula, where Ducor wanted to dig?
  1. Aristotle’s idea of ethics is that it consists of a right decision for each circumstance, coming from a judgment within, rather than a code of behavior for all circumstances. Does Douglas learn to behave ethically? Who else behaves ethically?
  1. If you could name one thing that enabled Douglas to move into his new life, what might it be? Generosity? Forgiveness? Accountability? Gratitude? Humility? Something else?

The End