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In the Hands Of Women 
Discussion Topics

  • Members of religious and ethnic groups often look similar from a distance, but up close, on a personal level they can be quite varied. What were some of the variations you saw among the Jewish characters in Threadbare?

  •  Did you think Tillie should have moved north with her family? Why?

  • If she had, what do you think her life would have been like?

  • What was Rebecca’s motivation in the story? Did she get what she wanted? At what price?

  • Over the course of the story, Tillie reaches certain understandings about life, and the most treasured parts of it. What does she learn? Do you think that those lessons are common among most women, men?

  • Did your family’s immigration story follow a similar trajectory? How so?

  • Women owning businesses was uncommon in that period of history. What do you think happened when women were widowed or had never married? How did they make ends meet?

  • Tillie obtains a diaphragm through illegal means while many families at that time had no access to family planning. What are your thoughts about that?

  • It was very common during that period to accept other family members in need into one’s household. To your best recollection, did that happen within your family?

  • Dr. Boro players a unique role in the community. Describe his many functions. Have you ever had a physician like him?

  • Mrs. Simon’s character was derived from Lillian Ward, a German Jewish woman, a nurse, who ran the Settlement House for many years. What are your thoughts about the role of the Settlement House. Would that model help our immigrants today? How?

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