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Discussion Questions

Review: Who wrote this essay? When? For what purpose and what audience?

Questions about "Traveling," Part I:

  1. What happens on the bus? (Describe it as objectively as possible)
  2. Grace Paley writes, "My mother had heard that something like this would happen. My sister had heard of it, too. They had not lived in it." Why do you think she emphasizes the difference between hearing of something and living something?
  3. How do you think Paley's mother and sister feel during their moment of personal resistance? What evidence of this do you find in the story?
  4. The last paragraph in Part I is primarily about Grace Paley's brother who is studying in the South. What is his experience as a Jew in the South? How does he handle his experience? How is his experience similar to that of his mother and sister's experience on the bus? How is it different?

Questions about "Traveling," Part II:

  1. It is now fifteen years after the events that took place in Part I. What happens to Grace Paley on the bus? (Describe it as objectively as possible)
  2. Which action or actions on Paley's part are moments of personal resistance? Where does it begin and end? Provide evidence for your position.
  3. On this trip, Grace Paley is married, but doesn't have any children. What evidence is there that she identifies with the African American mother she meets on the bus? How, if at all, do you think that identification plays a part in Paley's actions? Do you think identifying with someone is an essential part of standing up for them? Why or why not?
  4. Consider the role of the black woman in the story. Would you characterize her behavior in this story as personal resistance as well? Why or why not? Who do you think had more to lose, the black woman or Paley? Does that matter?

Questions about "Traveling," Part III:

  1. This part of the story takes place more or less in the present. Paley also mentions a child in this part of the story. Why do you think she included this reference to her grandchild in her story? What do you think the grandchild represents?
  2. How do you think Grace Paley and her mother helped change that world?
  3. According to Grace Paley, how did the earlier stories shape her and her brother?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Discussion Questions." (Viewed on January 18, 2018) <>.


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