Discussion Questions

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Book Discussion Questions

More discussion questions can be found at http://www.jamieford.com/reading-guide/.

  1. Father-son relationships are a crucial theme in the novel. Talk about some of these relationships and how they are shaped by culture and time. For example, how is the relationship between Henry and his father different from that between Henry and Marty? What accounts for the differences?
  2. Why doesn’t Henry’s father want him to speak Cantonese at home? How does this square with his desire to send Henry back to China for school? Isn’t he sending his son a mixed message?
  3. From the beginning of the novel, Henry wears the “I am Chinese” button given to him by his father. What is the significance of this button and its message, and how has Henry’s understanding of that message changed by the end of the novel?
  4. The US has been called a nation of immigrants. In what ways do the families of Keiko and Henry illustrate different aspects of the American immigrant experience?
  5. What struggles did your own ancestors have as immigrants to America, and to what extent did they incorporate aspects of their cultural heritage into their new identities as Americans?
  6. Was the US government right or wrong to “relocate” Japanese-Americans and other citizens and residents who had emigrated from countries the US was fighting in WWII? Was some kind of action necessary following Pearl Harbor? Could the government have done more to safeguard civil rights while protecting national security?