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Monday, January 6, 2014

January 9th Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions For Murder Must Advertise
1. In “Murder Must Advertise” Sayers makes some very insightful comments that seem to apply even more now than when they were written.  On page 80, she writes about the message of advertising:
Whatever you’re doing, stop it and do something else! Whatever you’re buying, pause and buy something different! Be hectored into health and prosperity! Never let up!  Never go to sleep! Never be satisfied, all our wheels will run down.  Keep going – and if you can’t, try Nutrax for Nerves.
Is this attitude the result of sin, human nature, or affluence? (If your society is not affluent, advertise is irrelevant)

2. Modern advertising began in the 1920’s with tobacco ads.  Large towns in the middle ages would have more than one blacksmith or more than one cobbler.  How did they compete and “advertise”? How is that different from modern advertising?

3. This book is filled with less than perfect characters.  They did not say at the age of 15 or 20 “I want to grow up to be a murderer " or “I want to grow up to be a drug runner or addict”.  How did these characters end up going down that slippery slope and how does this remind you of the Screwtape Letters.
“The Murderer” (I am not using his name in case you haven’t finished the book yet)
Major Mulligan, Dian de Momerie, ...

4. I, personally, found the chapters dealing with “The Great Nutrax Row” and it consequences very humorous.  Sayers does an excellent job of pointing out what fanned the flames of the Row.  What traits do you see there that we have seen in The Screwtape Letters.

5. The question of whether or not one is a “gentleman” or went to  public school matters to members of the firm and  Dian and others use the same set of standards to measure others.  What does make someone a “gentleman” and is this the same as “the inner group” that Lewis touched on in many of his books?  What of the snobbery of Tallboy who did not attend a real public school himself but says of another, “I am not going to have him playing in the cricket match,  anyhow.” pursued Mr. Tallboy, viciously.  “Last year he wore white suede shoes with crocodile vamps, and an incredible blazer….” P 149

6. Does the murder accept any real responsibility for what he has done?  Does he feel any remorse and do you agree with the “When I knew I’d succeeded, I didn’t care, I was glad.  And I tell you this, if I hadn’t been found out, I shouldn’t care now”.  How does this attitude fit into the murder’s moral view, and do you agree with the sentiment?

7.In many Agatha Christie stories and in several of Sayers, the detective allows the murders to commit suicide as a way out instead of making sure the person could  be arrested.  Do you agree with this?  Why or why not?  Is it truly “moral” to allow a person  to not face the consequences of their actions?  Is this type of solution, the “gentlemanly one” peculiar to that era?  Is it a choice in our mysteries today?  If not, why do you think things have changed?

8. Is this a murder mystery, or a novel about money and class; money and consumption; or money and truth?

9. Wimsey does not seem to grasp how important the public school experience really is.  He says to “If only you people could get it out of your heads that these things matter a damn, you ‘d be a darn sight happier.”  Do you think that by the end of the novel he has gained any real understanding of “how the other half lives”.

10. Do you think the experience of “working for a living” changed Wimsey at all?

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