The Same Sweet Girls - Reading Guide
1. Look at the Walt Whitman quote at the beginning of The Same Sweet
Girls. Why does King use this here?
2. Why does Corrine state early on that, "The illusion of sweetness,
that's all that counts. We don't have to be sincerely sweet, but by
God we have to be good at faking it. Southern girls will stab you in
the back, same as anyone else, but we'll give you a sugary smile
while doing it"? Why is this important to the story? How do Southern
women differ from women in other parts of the country?
3. Looking at each chapter, how is the book structured? Why does
King utilize this style here? What is the affect of multiple
4. Briefly describe each of the Same Sweet Girls. Share your
impression of the group. Who do you like the most, and why? What are
their backgrounds? How did they become a group, and why are they
such good friends?
5. Consider Miles, Jesse Phoenix, Joe Ed, Paul and Cal. What are
your impressions of these men? What are their roles in the story?
6. Thinking about the couplings of Julia and Joe Ed, Corrine and
Miles, and Lanier and Paul, how did these couples get together? What
kind of relationships do these Same Sweet Girls have with the men in
their lives? What do these relationships reveal, or possibly
reflect, about the Same Sweet Girls views of themselves?
7. Focusing on Astor's and Roseanelle's role in the book. Why are
these unlikely characters accepted and tolerated, even loved, by the
rest of the group? How do they influence other characters in the
book? Why do others accept and even ignore such obvious flaws in
8. Lanier keeps a sort of diary, what she calls her Life Lessons
notebook. Think about some of Lanier's notebook entries. For
example, "Any landing you walk away from is a good landing;" "When
the pupil is ready, the teacher appears;" "Seems to me that all
males are obsessed with expanding their bodies and females with
shrinking theirs, which must have something to do with their
self-images." Discuss what they mean and whether or not they are
helpful to you.
9. In Chapter 12, what do you make of Julia's saying she "survived
life by slow paddling down the river of denial"? What has she been
denying? Recount her relationship with her mother. What was her
mother's reaction when Bethany was born? Did Julia somehow agree
with her mother? How does Julia evolve, and what enables her to do
10. Looking at Corrine, what do the gourds represent, both literally
and figuratively? Why does King choose gourds instead of canvas or
pottery for Corrine's art? Trace Corrine's personal history. Why is
she the one who has a terminal disease? What does Miles mean when he
says to her, "Your biography becomes your biology?" Is this true in
her case? Do you believe this is true in general? Why?
11. What gives Corrine the motivation to stand up to Miles? Share
how you reacted when she finally does.
12. In Chapter 18, Lindy confronts Lanier about Lanier's affect on
her and others: "Then change, Mama . . ." How did you react do this
speech? What would you say to Lindy? What would you say to Lanier?
13. In Chapter 23, there is a discussion of helping a friend die.
What would you do if a friend or family member asked you to assist
their death? Would you want that kind of help? Knowing what Corrine
does about her disease, what you advise her to do about her
treatment? Why is Lanier so surprised when she learns Paul might
assist someone's death?
14. Why is Cal so attracted to Corrine? What is significant about
the timing of his interest? What is the significance of the large
kettle gourd that he returns to her? What enables his aged
grandmother to understand the purpose of this kettle gourd? Discuss
the paragraph in Chapter 26 where Cal says to Corrine, "Damn right
you're not like me . . . You've got to finish that one."
15. What resonates, and affects you the most, about The Same Sweet
Girls? What stays with you?