Book Club Discussion Guide

for Rebellion, 1967

  1. What interested you in choosing this memoir to read? The era or the Sixties? The storyline? The setting in NYC? The book design, art work and photos? Anything else?
  2. How were Janet Duffy’s circumstances growing up similar or different from yours? How do you feel toward her? Do you identify with her desire for freedom?
  3. What do you think of the motivations and actions of Janet’s mother? Her father? Do you sympathize with Janet’s sisters?
  4. What kept you engaged? The plot, taking turns you didn’t expect? Or did the writing style draw you in? Could you clearly visualize the scenes?
  5. The Supreme Court ruled school integration the law of the land in 1954, only three years before Janet was taught by her beloved teacher, Mrs. Rousson, the only Black person in her all-White elementary school. Did that relationship prime Janet to feel positive about the painter, Bill Waithe, and other Black people she got to know?
  6. What motivated Janet to work in the Black community? Altruism? Or something else?
  7. Janet’s father, Ed Duffy, felt poisoned by his parent’s prejudice. He deliberately taught his three girls that pre-judging a person was foolish. Do you think that he conquered his prejudice, or not? Did your family, friends or teachers “poison” you with their prejudices?
  8. Did you discover something about history, such as the riots in New York City – the Irish draft riots of 1863 and a century later, the riot in Harlem in 1964? Janet’s father, an officer in the NY Police Department, thought discrimination and poverty was the root cause of riots. What do you think causes riots?
  9. Janet worked hard all her life for her dream of going to college. Why did she take a break after one term? Why did she run away from home? Do you empathize or disapprove?
  10. Readers follow a girl developing in every way, intellectually, socially, artistically, politically, spiritually, sexually. What do you think of Janet’s relationship with Don, who was enchanted with the sexual revolution of the time? Did he act responsibly? Did she?
  11. The year Janet came of age, she became aware of differences between White and Black culture. Carmen, a multi-racial musician introduced her to the thrilling night life of African drums, and jazz concerts and clubs. Where and why did their relationship turn sour?
  12. Janet went through stressful times – not always knowing where she would lay her head at night or where her next meal was coming from. She faced dangerous situations but managed to escape. What did she learn about other people? About herself?
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