How do the scenes from Thirty Leagues Under the Sea reflect the story told here? I suggest finding specific quotes from Thirty Leagues, read them aloud, and see how they tie into the plot and characters.
What does the German camp do psychologically to the boys who go there? What kind of people thrive in this environment? How does this camp change Werner? On page 262, Werner describes the boys as “intoxicated.” What does this word do for the description of the cadets?
Do you think Werner was a coward for not standing up at the camp? Do you think the author thought he was a coward? What about Volkheimer? Was he also a coward for doing others’ biddings, when he seemed to have some heart as well?
What’s the role of Jutta as a character? Is she merely a foil for Werner? What does her character add to the novel?
On pg. 364, Werner thinks that it’s “wondrously futile to build splendid buildings, to make music, to sing songs, to print huge books full of birds in the face of the seismic, engulfing indifference of the world”. Why is the word “wondrously” used here? How does this feeling affect Werner through the rest of the book?
Why was there such a strong hold for the sea in Werner and Marie-Laure? What about the sea pulled on them so much?
In what ways is Von Rumpel a classic bad guy? Does he have any depth beyond being the villain? Did you have any sympathy for him? He continues to hear his father say “See obstacles as opportunities.” Is this good advice? What affect does this quote have on his character? Why does the narration keep bringing up his family, both his parents and his children?
How many different kinds of puzzles exist in the story? Why are puzzles so important to this story? On pg. 452, there’s talk of mazes: “What mazes there are in this world. The branches of trees, the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals the streets her father re-created in his models. [. . .] None more complicated than the human brain”. Is the whole world one giant puzzle/maze? Is it positive to see the world in this way? How do puzzles and mazes help people?
What about snails does Marie-Laure like so much? What might the snails symbolize to her? What do they symbolize about her?
Do you think the diamond’s curse really existed? What might have happened to the diamond at the end? Do you feel like the author wanted the curse to exist? Does the diamond’s mythology connect to the plot at all? What does this novel add to the struggle between myth and science?