Waneta Dawn
Discussion Guide
Behind the Hedge discussion questions   

1.  How would you define domestic violence?
List some of the traits of the abuser and victim(s).

2.  Using your definition, was Yvette abusive or controlling when she refused to participate in Luke's
purchase of another farm?  Why or why not?  When faced with divorce as the alternative, should she have
changed her mind and agreed to contribute her funds to the purchase of the new farm?  Why or why not?

3.  What is spiritual abuse?  How did Luke's use of spiritual teachings and biblical characters effect Yvette
and their children?  Did it make the abuse more difficult to deal with and sort out than a non-spiritually
abusive approach would have been?  Explain your answer.

4.  From what you know about church practices, do you think church teachings about wife submission &
husband authority are to blame for the behaviour of men like Luke?  Do you think churches should change
their doctrine about marital roles? Or do you think church teaching about marriage is about right?

5.  The men with whom Luke surrounded himself also had controlling attitudes toward their wives and/or women.  
This is a common choice abusive-prone men in real life also make, and results in the men having limited
sources of examples and encouragement about respectful attitudes and behavior toward women.  How can
society in general, or you in particular, combat this tendency effectively?  

6.  How did Luke's behavior or presence effect each of the children?  Greg?  Kyle?  Tanya?  Were the
changes they made in his absence positive ones?  Do you think the final split up of Yvette and Luke was
beneficial or harmful to the children?  Or both?  Explain.

7.  Do you think Yvette could have navigated the situation better?  Could she have "managed" Luke or the
children more effectively and still stayed true to her religious beliefs?  If so, how?  If not, why not?  Was she
in any way responsible for Luke's abusive or controlling behavior?

8.  Do you think Clara, Yvette's mother, could have offered more effective help?  If so, how?  Do you know
of a family dealing with abuse issues?  Are there ways the extended family could be more helpful, offer more
or better information or resources?

9.  Was Yvette's friend, Delores, too pushy or too preachy?  Was her marriage to Steve unrealistic?  Who
could you look up to as having a mutually respectful marital relationship?  If you had a friend you suspected
or knew was being controlled or abused by her husband, would you attempt to help?  If so, how?

10.  What do you think was driving Luke?  Why did he disparage Yvette's and Kyle's accomplishments to their
faces, but brag on them to others?  Why was it so important for him to dominate his wife and children?  Do you
think this is the motivation behind most abusive men today, or are there other reasons for abuse?

11.  Pastor Val appeared to recognize Luke's controlling behavior and tried to deal with it.  Were there things
he could have done differently or more effectively?  Do pastors in real life have more power and influence
to cause abusers to become respectful?

12.  Were William and Ruth, the couple who visited Yvette in Luke's absense, justified in their reaction to
Yvette's disclosure that Luke had moved out?  Should pastors address attitudes like theirs from the pulpit?  
If so, how?  What effect could judgmental/condemning attitudes of church members have on a woman in
Yvette's situation who are thinking about leaving their abusive husbands?

13.  What do you think Greg, Kyle and Tanya will be like as adults?  How will Yvette need to parent in order to
effectively combat the  domination/submission training they already received and will continue to receive from
their dad?  Can you think of ways to do this without speaking negatively about their father, especially when he
is telling them everything is their mother's fault?

14.  Some men and men's groups say men are getting angrier these days and suggest women are to blame.  
Do you think men ARE getting angrier?  If so, are women to blame?  Why or why not?

15.  Did the characters in "Behind the Hedge" seem real to life to you?  Why or why not?

16.  Which character in the story did you relate to the most?  Why?

17.  Which character did you like best?  Why?

18.  Does this novel impact your life in some way?  If so, how?         
Waneta Dawn
© Waneta Dawn 2007      Created June 16, 2008