These discussion points are intended for those who have
already read The Great Days.
1. The methods of persuasion used by The Movement: fatigue,
isolation, undermining of self-reliance, an “Us vs. Them” mentality,
perpetuation of fear, threats of physical and mental dissolution, projection of
a false enemy, and manipulation of language are nearly universal in abusive
cults. The so-called “brainwashing” of political prisoners is managed
through an extreme application of the same techniques. In what ways do
governments and advertisers also use these techniques to persuade populations?
2. To what degree have the initiates had their agency
stolen? To what degree have they freely given away their own power?
3. Does August regain control of his life? When and how does
4. What makes a person vulnerable to cult recruitment? At what
point in your life would you have been vulnerable?
5. What is a cult? How does it differ from a church or a
6. How would you characterize August’s relationship to
authority near the end of the book? How does he use his power to influence the
initiates? Does he use it wisely?
7. Is August different from Papa? How so?
8. If you could change the world for the better how much
authority would you be willing to implement to that end? If you could end war
or poverty or illness, for example, how many people would you be willing to
9. What is the definition of evil?
10. What role does August’s body play in his development? Is
mental subjugation possible without physical subjugation?
11. In totalitarian systems the population is charged with
policing their own thoughts. Are there things you yourself are not allowed to
think or imagine? Are there things you are not allowed to want? What are the
ramifications of unsanctioned desire?
12. How does an organization comprised of good people and
good intentions turn sour?
13. What power do the Mothers have on the compound? Is a
just patriarchy possible?
14. Are there topics which a spiritual leader should not
counsel his followers on? Are there facets of human experience which a
spiritual leader should not attain mastery of?
15. Is it appropriate for a spiritual leader to break civic
16. Breaking the rules of the compound results in
confinement and punishment in z-trailer. What are the results of breaking rules
in your communities?
17. Is torture ever justified? Is there a difference between
physical and psychological torture?
18. How is August’s point of view different at the end of
the book than at the beginning? Does he achieve freedom?