Discussion Questions

The Fortunate Ones

by Ellen Umansky

  1. The Fortunate Ones features a significant inter-generational friendship between Rose Zimmer and Lizzie Goldstein. Do you feel that inter-generational friendships differ in any way from friendships between people who are around the same age? What might be some of the benefits of having friends who are significantly older or younger than you? If you have any relationships like this yourself, what do they mean to you personally?
  2. The storyline in this novel largely centers around Chaim Soutine’s painting, “The Bellhop.” It’s a very meaningful object to both Rose and Lizzie, albeit for different reasons. That being said, both women have both positive and negative associations with “The Bellhop.” Can you think of an object from your own life that carries both positive and negative meaning for you? What are those meanings, and, overall, why is this object significant to you?
  3. The title of this novel, The Fortunate Ones, refers to Rose and her brother Gerhard, who were sent to England via the Kindertransport, and therefore escaped death in Nazi-occupied Europe. Given the context, the title seems to hint at the idea that “fortunate” might be a relative term. Do you think that Rose and Gerhard are fortunate? Why or why not?
  4. In this novel we see examples of different types of Judaism, and characters whose relationships with Judaism change over time. Has your relationship with Judaism changed over the course of your life? If so, how? Are there particular events or “moments” that caused either a strengthening or weakening of your relationship to Judaism?
1 Comment

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Looking forward to the discussion. Trying to find the book ar this time.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Discussion Questions." (Viewed on September 30, 2023) <https://jwa.org/node/24648>.


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