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Explore thought-provoking Demon Copperhead book club questions here. Barbara Kingsolver’s masterful novel inspired by Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield is a Pulitzer Prize-winning, character-driven saga that has readers talking.

You’ll foster meaningful discussion and get free printable book club questions and a bingo card to prepare for your in-person book club. Get started below.

person holding demon copperhead by barbara kingsolver in front of bookshelves

Demon Copperhead Book Club Questions

Spoiler Alert: There are SPOILERS in the Demon Copperhead discussion questions below.

Have you read David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, the inspiration for Demon Copperhead?

Discuss the similarities and differences between David Copperfield and Demon Copperhead.

Why do you think Kingsolver chose an Appalachian setting?

Does it make a difference that Kingsolver is from Appalachia?

Demon Copperhead was dedicated “For the survivors.” Who do you see as the survivors?

The epigraph quotes this line from David Copperfield: “It’s in vain to recall the past, unless it works some influence upon the present.” Why?

Discuss Demon’s birth sequence and the opening line, “First, I got myself born.”

Discuss the unique voice and detailed characterization of Demon Copperhead.

What kind of research do you think Kingsolver did to write such a nuanced story?

Discuss this quote: “The wonder is that you could start life with nothing, end with nothing, and lose so much in between.”

Discuss the tone of Demon Copperhead.

Discuss the pacing of the Demon Copperhead.

Discuss Kingsolver’s character name choices.

Why is Demon Copperhead told (mostly) through the eyes of a child?

Did Demon Copperhead read more like fiction or fact to you?

How long did it take you to read Demon Copperhead, and why do you think that was?

As you read Demon Copperhead the cover art takes on more significance. Discuss it.

Did any of the deaths in Demon Copperhead surprise you?

Discuss the significance of the date of Demon’s mother’s death (his birthday).

Why do you think the death of Demon’s father was a mystery for so much of the novel?

Did you learn anything about addiction?

Did you learn anything about the foster system?

Demon said, “Foster is a cross between prison and dodgeball. What did he mean?”

How did Demon Copperhead make you feel?

Discuss the backstories of the parents in Demon Copperhead (Demon’s, Maggot’s, Emmy’s, Angus’s, Dori’s, etc.).

Discuss the quote: “All of the adults had gone off somewhere and left everything in our hands.”

Discuss the roles of various women in Demon’ Copperhead’s life.

Discuss the role of superheroes in Demon’s life.

Discuss the various Christmases in Demon’s life.

What role did football play in Demon’s life, for better and/or for worse?

Discuss art as a theme in Demon Copperhead.

Discuss friendship and found family as a theme in Demon Copperhead.

How did Demon cope with grief?

How do Demon’s relationships with those in his life change over time?

Compare and contrast urban and rural life in Demon Copperhead.

Discuss water as a theme and symbol in Demon Copperhead.

Discuss Demon’s road to recovery.

Do you personally know anything about Demon’s Melungeon heritage?

Do you think Demon Copperhead would make for a good film adaptation?

Explain the ending of Demon Copperhead.

Why do you think Demon’s story ends where it does?

Why do you think Demon is telling his story at the time he does?

Is Demon ill-fated?

What do you think happens next in Demon’s life?

What does the novel say about capitalism?

Is Demon Copperhead political?

Discuss the differences between “those who leave” and “those who stay.”

Did Demon Copperhead change your thinking in any way?

While Demon Copperhead is fictional, how much truth does it bear to real life?

Why do you think Oprah chose Demon Copperhead for her book club?

Printable Demon Copperhead Reading Guides

Download printable book club discussion questions and a bingo game below to prepare for your in-person book club.

PDF Version of the Discussion Questions


Card for a Bingo Game

To facilitate discussion, you can have book club members cross off each square on their card when they discuss that word.

Demon Copperhead bingo card.

Why Demon Copperhead Is A Good Book Club Book

  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction
  • A New York Times “Ten Best Books of 2022”
  • Instant New York Times Bestseller
  • Instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller 
  • #1 Washington Post Bestseller
  • Oprah’s Book Club pick

My Rating: ★★★★★ (Full Review of Demon Copperhead)

An homage to David Copperfield and a statement on modern institutional poverty, it begins with the unforgettable violent birth of an Appalachian boy to an addicted and single teen mom in their mobile home.

It’s a one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story told by Demon Copperhead himself, who grew up poor, in the foster system, and surrounded by addiction and death. The heavy themes make Demon Copperhead a read that’s extremely slow, but utterly worth it, especially for your book club discussions.

It’s also a great selection for “Virginia” for those doing a 50 States Reading Challenge.

Reading Tips & Book Club Ideas

About Author Barbara Kingsolver

about

Barbara Kingsolver is an American writer living in Appalachia. She is a graduate of DePauw University and the University of Arizona, where she studied biology and ecology.

One of her most popular works to date is The Poisonwood Bible. She’s known for writing about social justice and environmental concerns.

Kingsolver has been awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award 2011, the National Humanities Medal, the Women’s Prize for Fiction (twice), and the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, among many other awards.

Kingsolver started the Bellwether Prize for new authors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the theme of Demon Copperhead?

David Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver addresses the opioid epidemic, adversity, community support, and poverty, particularly in Appalachia. The novel combines these themes to depict a tale of resilience in a region marked by both hardship and beauty.

What are the discussion questions for Demon Copperhead?

Book clubs reading David Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver should discuss addiction, poverty, and the foster system.

Is Demon Copperhead worth reading?

Yes. Demon Copperhead is a Pulitzer Prize winner and Oprah’s Book Club pick. It’s a one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story about growing up poor, in the foster system and surrounded by addiction and death.

What does the Demon Copperhead symbolize?

The character Demon Copperhead’s name symbolizes a snake that is deemed dangerous but is often misunderstood — like him. The copperhead snake is also resilient, like Demon’s character.

Conclusion

Demon Copperhead is an incredibly thought-provoking novel that offers so many topics for discussion about the struggles facing many modern Americans today, including poverty and addiction. It’s also good to compare to the book on which it was based, Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. These Demon Copperhead book club questions are designed to foster engaging discussions that explore the depth, characters, and themes of this masterful, award-winning tale.

Keep the discussion going! Share your thoughts on Demon Copperhead or any remaining questions you may have in the comments below.

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