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Wrap Up for The Man Who Was Thursday August 27, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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Now that you’ve finished Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday:

1. What are your thoughts on the book as a whole?

2. Why do you think Chesterton wrote it?

3. Do you believe it warrants the accolades it’s received? For example, being called the “most renowned and critically acclaimed novel” he’s written.

4. What is the most important thing you’ve taken away or learned from reading this book?

5. Other thoughts?

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Chapter 15: The Accuser August 27, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. In this chapter each of the six philosophers is dressed in a costume reflecting a day in the biblical account of Creation. Regarding Syme, we read:

If Syme had been able to see himself, he would have realised that he, too, seemed to be for the first time himself and no one else. For if the Secretary stood for that philosopher who loves the original and formless light, Syme was a type of poet who seeks always to make the light in special shapes, to split it up into the sun and star. The philosopher may sometimes love the infinite; the poet always loves the finite. For him the great moment is not the creation of light, but the creation of the sun and the moon.

What are your thoughts on Syme’s costume, and the costumes of the other philosphers, reflecting who they truly are? Especially since most of the book was devoted to things and people not being what they seem. What do you think Chesterton is trying to communicate to us?

2. What do you think Chesterton is using Sunday as a metaphor for?

3. What did you think of the six philosopher’s reaction to learning Sunday’s identity?

4. Where you surprised to see Gregory reappear? What did you think of his conversation with Syme?

5. What are your thoughts on the book’s ending? Was this a nightmare?

6. Other thoughts?

Chapter 14: The Six Philosophers August 24, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. At one point Syme says:

Listen to me…. Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutual. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front —

What truth can we draw from this?

2. Why do you think Syme is being asked to dress like the fourth day of creation?

3. The last line of this chapter is: “For these disguises did not disguise, but reveal.” What do you think this means?

4. Other thoughts?

Chapter 13: The Pursuit of the President August 24, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. Were you able to suspend your disbelief in this chapter? Or did Chesterton venture too far into the absurd with the chase through the streets of London involving elephants, odd note throwing, and a hot air balloon?

2. What did you think when you learned that Sunday was “the man in the dark room”? Why do you think Sunday started this chain of events?

3. What do you think of the quote: “Nature was always making quite mysterious jokes.”

4. Other thoughts?

Chapter 12: The Earth in Anarchy August 24, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. As Syme and the other policemen are being chased by the mob and find themselves surrounded, they hold on to one last hope. This hope is “the man they never saw.” How can we relate this to our own lives and holding on to faith in what we don’t see?

2. What did you think when you found out that the Secretary and the mob weren’t anarchists, but instead believed the small band of men they were chasing really were? Does this communicate anything about judgments we make about humanity?

3. Any other thoughts?

Chapter 11: The Criminals Chase the Police August 22, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. Inspector Ratcliffe tells Syme and the other detectives, “There is a great deal to be said for death; but if anyone has any preference for the other alternative, I strongly advise him to walk after me.” Were you able to suspend your disbelief in order to believe that the mass of people getting off the train were chasing the five men and bent on killing them? Who do you think the men in this mob are? Where did Sunday find them?

2. It seems that Chesterton is starting to reveal why the subtitle of this book is A Nightmare. In this chapter we read:

This wood of witchery, in which men’s faces turned black and white by turns, in which their figures first swelled into sunlight and then faded into formless night, this mere chaos of chiaroscuro (after the clear daylight outside), seemed to Syme a perfect symbol of the world in which he had been moving for three days, this world where men took off their beards and their spectacles and their noses, and turned into other people. The tragic self-confidence which he had felt when he believed that the Marquis was a devil had strangely disappeared now that he knew that the Marquis was a friend. He almost felt inclined to ask after all these bewilderments what was a friend and an enemy. Was there anything that was apart from what it seemed?

This seems to sum up how in dreams nothing seems as it is, but is always changing and taking on different forms. Also, I think this speaks to the importance of discernment in our lives. Of being able to recognize things as they truly are. What are your thoughts on this?

3. What are your thoughts on the clear line Chesterton seems to draw between peasants and those with financial means when it comes to good and evil? Do you think he’s trying to make a specific statement on humanity in general and how money can affect people? Or do you think this ties into the politics and state of the world at the time he wrote it?

Chapter 10: The Duel August 21, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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Since there is so much to this chapter, instead of listing specific questions, I simply want to know what you thought of it. What stood out to you? What did or didn’t you like about? Share your thoughts.

Chapter 9: The Man in Spectacles August 21, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. At one point Syme starts rambling about his favorite words. What’s your favorite word and why?

2. What do you think of Syme’s statement: “Always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?”

3. What did you think of Syme and the Professors interaction with the Doctor?

4. When discussing their upcoming meeting with The Marquis, Syme proposes “at the earliest opportunity to know his hat off.” How do you think this will help in stopping the anarchist attack?

5. Any thoughts or insights you want to share?

Chapter 8: The Professor Explains August 16, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. What did you think when the Professor revealed that he too is a policeman?

2. Syme tells the Professor, “Fight the thing that you fear.” What are your thoughts on this statement?

3. The Professor tells Syme, “You think it is possible to pull down the President. I know it is impossible, and I am going to try it.” What does this tell us about the Professor’s character that he’s willing to fight for what is right even though he believes he’ll lose the battle?

4. Share your thoughts on the Professor’s story of why he first disguised himself as Professor de Worms.

5. Anything that stood out to you in this chapter?

Chapter 7: The Unaccountable Conduct of Professor de Worms August 15, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. What did you think when Sunday simply let Gogal go with a warning not to share what he knows? From what we know of Sunday’s reputation, does this seem odd?

2. Sunday tells the Secretary, “You didn’t want to be overheard by a spy, didn’t you? How do you know you aren’t overheard now?” Do you think Sunday suspects Syme?

3. Do you think Professor de Worms is following Syme? If so, why do you think he’s doing so?

4. Any other thoughts?

Chapter 6: The Exposure August 10, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. At the breakfast table Syme begins to fear for himself. He senses that Sunday is always looking at him. We read that Syme “had hardly the shred of doubt that in some silent and extraordinary way Sunday had found out that he was a spy.” Do you think Sunday knows that Syme is a spy and, if so, why do you think this? Or do you think that Syme is simply paranoid and, if so, why?

2. We are told that “It never occured to him [Syme] to be spiritually won over to the enemy. Many modern, inured to a weak worship of intellect and force, might have wavered in their allegiance under this oppression of a great personality. . . . But this was the kind of modern meanness to which Syme could not even sink even in his extreme morbidity. Like any man, he was coward enough to fear great force; but he was not quite coward enough to admire it.” Do you think this will benefit Syme in future chapters, giving him the strength to do the right thing? Or do you think he’ll eventually be won over? Tell us why you feel the way you do.

3. What did you think of the old Professor’s statement that “every man knows in his heart that nothing is worth doing”?

4. What was your reaction to learn that Syme isn’t the only spy in the council?

5. Any additional thoughts on this chapter?

Chapter 5: The Feast of Fear August 10, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. As Syme nears the balcony and his first meeting of Sunday, we’re told that while Syme was “utterly devoid of fear in physical dangers, he was a great deal too sensitive to the smell of spiritual evil. Twice already that night little unmeaning things had peeped out at him almost pruiriently, and given him a sense of drawing nearer and nearer to the headquarters of hell.” Do you think this sensitivity will be an asset to him as he poses as an anarchist or determential?

2. How did reading Sunday’s physical description affect your impression of him?

3. What are your thoughts on the council and their descriptions?

4. Any other thoughts on the chapter?

Chapter 4: The Tale of a Detective August 7, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. We’re told that Syme’s feeling toward anarchists is a “rebellion against rebellion” and that “being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left—sanity. But there was just enough in him of the blood of these families to make even his protest for common-sense a little too fierce to be sensible.” In learning Syme’s “backstory” do you feel like you’ve gained greater insight into his motivations and behavior?

2. The policeman Syme meets tells him, “He [one of the most celebrated detectives in Europe] is certain that the scientific and artistic worlds are silently bound in a crusade against the Family and the State.” He goes on to say:

We say that the most dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We say that the most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men; they merely seek it wrongly. Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it. But philosphers dislike property as property; they wish to destroy the very idea of personal possession. Bigamists respect marriage, or they would not go through with the highly ceremonial and even ritualistic formality of bigamy. But philosophers despise marriage as marriage. Murderers respect human life; they merely wish to attain a greater fulness of human life in themselves by the sacrifice of what seems to them to be lesser lives. But philosophers hate life itself, their own as much as other people’s.

What do you think of this? Is there any truth in it? Can it be applied at all to our modern society? And if so, how?

3. Syme tells “the invisible chief,” as Chesterton describes him, that he is unqualified and unfit to assume the position of a policemen. The chief responds by saying, “You are willing, that is enough.” Syme says, “I don’t know any profession of which mere willingness is the final test.” In response, the chief states, “I do. Martyrs. I am condeming you to death. Good day.” What did you think of this? Can we relate this to the Christian life at all?

4. Any other thoughts? What stood out to you in this chapter?

Chapter 3: The Man Who Was Thursday August 7, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. What did you think when Gregory’s plan to convince Syme they weren’t serious anarcharists backfired? What were your thoughts on him comparing their movement to the Christians in the Catacombs?

2. Were you surprised by Syme’s reaction and the outcome that resulted?

3. Do you have any favorite quotes from this chapter?

4. Any additional thoughts?

Chapter 2: The Secret of Gabriel Syme August 3, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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1. In chapter 1, there were several references made to dreams. For example:

The place was not only pleasant, but perfect, if once he could regard it not as a deception but rather as a dream.

…she kept recurring like a motive in music through all his mad adventures afterwards…like a red thread through those dark and ill-drawn tapestries of the night. For what followed was so improbable, that it might well have been a dream.

…that you thought a paradox might wake men up to a neglected truth.

Now in chapter 2, the idea of dreams comes up again. Syme tells Gregory, “I don’t often have the luck to have a dream like this. It is new to me for a nightmare to lead to a lobster. It is commonly the other way.” To which Gregory replies, “You are not asleep, I assure you.” Do you think there’s a chance that this story will turn out to be a dream?

2. What did you think of Gregory’s character when he told Syme, “I would break twenty oaths of secrecy for the pleasure of taking you down a peg”? Do you think he will keep Syme’s secret?

3. What did you think when you learned Syme’s secret?

4. Gregory tells Syme his purpose is “to abolish God!” He goes on to say that the anarchists “hate Rights and Wrongs. We have abolished Right and Wrong.” How does this relate to today’s society? Does it bring to mind postmodern philosophies?

5. What was your first impression of Sunday?

6. Gregory says that Sunday advised him to “Dress up as an anarchist” because “nobody will ever expect you to do anything dangerous then.” What do you think of this advice? Does it translate to today’s society? Do we take those arguing extremes seriously or write them off?

7. Any other thoughts on this chapter?