These Demon Copperhead book club questions will help you think and have a meaningful discussion about author Barbara Kingsolver’s masterful, Pulitzer Prize winning, character-driven saga, inspired by Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield.
Plus, you can download a free printable PDF of the questions to take with you!
- 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
Five out of five stars.
Demon Copperhead is, quite simply, a modern masterpiece and one of my own absolute favorite books in many years.
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. He foreshadows that he was “marked from the get-out,” and yearns for superheroes and the ocean.
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 completely surrounded by addiction and death. This empathetic and colorful protagonist has a voice that’s uniquely his own (I don’t know HOW Kingsolver transported herself into his fictional brain so masterfully) in telling of his lifelong fight for survival amidst so much of the absolute worst in life.
Demon Copperhead offers the reader a firsthand look at the struggles facing many Appalachian Americans today in a very humanizing way. In fact, Kingsolver succeeds so well at telling this tale as if firsthand that many may find it reads more like a memoir than literary fiction.
The heavy themes make Demon Copperhead a read that’s extremely slow, but utterly worth it.
Read More: Full Summary and Review of Demon Copperhead
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Demon Copperhead Book Club Questions
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There’s a lot to unpack in this one. Let’s do so with these Demon Copperhead book club questions.
Warning: There are SPOILERS in the Demon Copperhead discussion questions below.
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?
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Frequently Asked Questions
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver is a coming-of-age story of a modern Appalachian man who grows up in a world of poverty, the foster system, and addiction. Through this empathetic and colorful protagonist that experiences blow after blow in life and must fight for his own survival, the reader gets a firsthand look at the struggles facing many Appalachian Americans today.
Yes. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver was an instant bestseller, as well as an Oprah’s book club pick, considered by many to be the best book of the year. It’s worth reading for the humanistic and empathetic take it offers on the dark, and often ridiculed, struggles of modern Appalachian Americans, told through the eyes of an unforgettable character who was richly drawn and will be fondly remembered in literature for years to come.
Demon Copperhead tackles issues surrounding poverty, addiction, and the foster system in the context of modern-day Appalachia in order to show the struggles facing many Americans today.
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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.