top of page

Discussion Week 3: "Jack Waits"

There is always a line the scoundrel steps across and becomes a wanted thing. Sometimes the line is theater and robbery and kicking the fellow off the bridge; sometimes it’s simply a signed sheet of paper. Perhaps it is fitting that my own line was merely the end of a dock. – p. 51

Thus begins the third part of So Brave, Young, and Handsome: “Jack Waits.”

There was so much in this section—too much to cover thoroughly without our conversation feeling like a dozen are taking place at once. Here are a few questions to get us started, but as always, feel free to pose your own and talk about things that stood out to you:

“What do you dream of, Becket, at night?” “That I am at sea, or in a snowstorm.” “When I was young I used to dream of escapes, and wake up sweating,” Glendon replied. “Now I mostly dream of captures, and you know what? I wake up calm.” – p.75

1) What do Becket’s dreams reveals about his longings? What is he looking for as he accompanies Glendon on this journey?

2) What do you make of Glendon’s response?

3) Earlier, Glendon had talked about the hard reality of jail. “A jail ain’t nothing but a collection of corners.” – p.63 Does his dismal synopsis of jail conflict with the response to his dream of being captured? Is there significance in comparing the “collection of corners” to the “curved line”?

When seeing his reflection, Becket says:

“I’d even begun to imagine myself a better individual, one tempered by experience and loss . . . I was just barely me. I used to resemble what I was—a well-meaning failure, a pallid disappointer of persons, a man fading. This fellow looked tired and rough, but—if I may say it—capable. “ – p.76

4) What had changed in Becket? What was the “loss” to which he was referring?

5) Enger uses the imagery of vision (or difficulty in seeing) throughout the book—Fog, night, a man “fading.” Where and how in the story do you see “vision” used?

6) Becket, Glendon, and Roberts are each in a different stage of life. What is each man looking for, and does age play a part?

Bonus question: The book draws on classic themes and archetypes of “The Western.” How so? How is it turning the classic Western on its head? Have you read Westerns before? Are you a fan of Western films? Other than setting, what do you think defines the genre.


bottom of page