Reading Group Guide: Discussion Questions
1. Hearts in Atlantis
traces several characters from childhood through college and into adulthood. How does King explore the maturation process? In King's fiction, what distinguishes childhood from adulthood? In becoming adults, what do we lose? What do we gain? Does the book suggest that "growing up" means something unique to each generation?
2. Why does the escalating war -- and the possibility of the students being drafted -- form an eerie backdrop to the title story "Hearts in Atlantis"? In what way is the Hearts tournament a metaphor for the Vietnam War?
3. How does the supernatural element in "Low Men in Yellow Coats" set the stage for the rest of the collection, which increasingly shifts its focus toward Vietnam? What effect does King achieve by pairing supernatural horror with the human horrors of war? What does the book suggest is more disturbing: actual events, or the inventions of our wildest imaginations?
4. Books play an important role for certain characters, Lord of the Flies
for Ted, Bobby, Carol, and Pete, and The Sun Also Rises
for Sully. Why are these books important to them? What do they reveal to them about the world we live in? What books have been important to you and why? What does Hearts in Atlantis
show us about the world we live in?
5. There are many tender and funny passages in this book coupled with disturbing descriptions of war, human cruelty, and loss of