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But she is plagued with superstitious ritual and the buried remnants of a tragic girlhood, and when she and her husband move to Pueblo, Colorado -- a withering mining town afflicted by dust storms and social extremes of wealth and poverty -- her life begins to unravel. Nothing can thrive in the bleak ...
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But she is plagued with superstitious ritual and the buried remnants of a tragic girlhood, and when she and her husband move to Pueblo, Colorado -- a withering mining town afflicted by dust storms and social extremes of wealth and poverty -- her life begins to unravel. Nothing can thrive in the bleak environment, not Bena and Ted's marriage, and not their baby, who Bena believes, despite her husband's constant assurances, is in failing health.
To distract herself, Bena accepts a part-time position as a society reporter for the local paper, following the activities of the town's elite club women -- women such as Reimer Lee Jackson, with her plans to restore a crumbling monument to the mining industry, the Mineral Palace, to its former grandeur. Soon Bena finds herself drawn to the seamier side of Pueblo, to a run-down saloon, where she befriends Red Grissom, a taciturn rancher, and to the lurid halls of a rooming house, where she encounters a pregnant prostitute, Maude Hewitt. The question of the unborn baby's paternity leads Bena to uncover not only the sexual corruption on which an entire town is founded, but also the lies that enclose her own marriage and her role as mother. As the two women's lives converge, in ways that shock, Bena is compelled to return to the decaying architecture of the Mineral Palace. Here she is forced to confront her most terrifying secret, and struggle with the dark intersection between love and destruction.
Things aren't always as they seem in The Mineral Palace. How does Heidi Julavits use lies and secrets to tell the story?
Q>Inclement weather occurs throughout The Mineral Palace. How does the weather mirror actual events in the novel?
Q>How do superstition and coincidence impact Bena's decisions throughout the story?
Q>Bena's role as a mother is a recurring theme in The Mineral Palace. How does the conclusion affect this role? Do Bena's actions break down what might otherwise be a positive construction of motherhood?
Q>How would the story change if it took place in a different setting - if, for example, Bena and her husband had originally moved to a more fertile part of the country?
Q>How are Maude and Bena alike? How are they different?
Q>What characteristics does Julavits give Maude to set her apart from a stereotypical prostitute?
Q>Why do you think Julavits chose The Mineral Palace as her title? In what way is the Palace at the structural and thematic center of the novel?
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|2.||Buffalo Mass Suicide||26|
|3.||The Wedding Tent||45|
|4.||Water on the Moon||68|
|5.||A Turk's-Head Knot||97|
|6.||The Plain of Mars||128|
|7.||Turkey in the Straw||156|
|8.||The Green Dress||197|
|9.||The Stone Tower||246|
Reprinted from The Mineral Palace by Heidi Julavits by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Heidi Julavits. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.