The Indigo Girl
by Natasha Boyd
Discussion Questions:
1. Eliza, by all expectations, was an eligible prize. She was young (which meant she was malleable), and her family had land. Yet in her accounts and letters there is rare mention of more than an occasional interest in suitors. Apart from Mr. L, whom she soundly rejects in a letter to her father, and the obscure Mr. Murray, we donít hear much about it. Do you think she didnít find them worth mentioning since she had no intention of marrying, or was she really such a nonconforming lady that potential suitors didnít quite know what to do with her?

2. It is clear from the currency issues Charles was dealing with that colonists were already beginning to chafe under British rule even as early as the 1740s. Why do you think it took another thirty years or so for there to be a revolution?

3. There is no surviving picture or likeness or even description of Eliza that exists today. She hardly discussed her own looks. But, after reading her story and getting to know her character, do you have a sense of her in your mind? Almost as if her character is what made up her likeness? How do you picture her?

4. Do you think Ben really did die, or do you think Quash told Eliza he was dead so that Ben could be free and Eliza could grieve his loss? Why would he do that?

5. Do you think Eliza and Charles Pinckney were in love before the death of his wife? Do you consider this infidelity on the part of Charles?

6. In this story, who do you think killed Starrat and why?

7. Eliza was twenty-one and Charles Pinckney was believed to be around forty-five at the time of their marriage. Did you think about their age difference as you read the story? How do you feel about it?

8. In this story, Elizaís mother seems to be working hard toward getting Eliza married off. Do you think her mother was only doing what she thought would benefit Eliza, or was she thinking of herself?

?9. It was clear that Eliza wasnít exactly a fan of the institution of slavery. Do you think she could have done more to work against the system, and do you think she could have succeeded in producing indigo with paid labor instead of using unpaid slaves? ?

(Discussion Questions by Author)


Book Club Talking Points:
Eliza is a young woman who defies convention and perseveres to attain her goal, which is no small feat in the 1700s. The story touches on a lot of social issues of the South in this time period Ė like racial inequality, treatment of slaves and womenís rights. Contrasting the differences and similarities between then and now will certainly make for lively discussion, as will Elizaís choices and actions.
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