Possible Questions for Group Discussion:
Percy Harding dies before the story even begins yet his presence—and his absence—is felt throughout. What are your impressions of him as an employer? As a father? A husband?
Describe how the different ages and groups of people—the factory workers, the Morning Glories, the teenagers, the customers at the supermarket and the Tuesday Diner—respond to news of Percy Harding’s suicide. How do individuals such as Clyde Winston and Celeste Bradshaw respond? Rosamond Rogers? Percy’s widow, Lena?
Why do you think Agnes returns to Goliath after dropping out of college and leaving James? Do you think that by the end of the story she has accomplished what she needed to accomplish by returning?
Rosamond Rogers and her daughter Agnes, different in many ways, both have troubled love lives for much of the story. Yet in the end, they both find true love. How are their journeys similar? How are they different?
On the day the airplane came to Goliath and offered rides across the town, Rosamond peers out her window and knows she will never leave “those minute, winding streets, the square clapboard houses, the nickel-and-dime grocery store.” However, the other citizens are often cold, even hostile, to her. Why do think she is so committed to the town?
Goliath is a story of loss and perseverance. Besides the deaths, what are the different instances and kinds of losses? What is recovered? Is anything lost forever? In what ways do the citizens of Goliath persevere?
After fourteen-year-old Vincent Bailey stumbles upon Percy Harding’s body, he withdraws from his friends and family and instead seeks out Cassie Stewart, an odd, disturbed girl he barely knows. Why do you think that is? What does this new friendship initially offer each of them? Yet, it ends in tragedy. In what ways was this relationship detrimental to both of them?
Is Goliath a typical small town? How is it like small towns that you’ve lived in or visited? How is it unique?
Rosamond believes Ryan’s returning to Goliath to take over the furniture company is nothing more than a power grab. Do you think she is right? Do you think she changes her mind about his motives by the end of the story? What do you think it has meant to Ryan to come home to Goliath? To take over his father’s position as head of the family company?
Describe how Hatley’s desertion—and his return—affect Rosamond. How do the same events affect their daughter Agnes?
What roles do religious faith and southern superstitions play in the story? How do they influence Pastor Ray and other citizens of Goliath? Is their faith rewarded? Are their superstitions proven true?
Discuss the scene between Vincent, Cassie, and Faye, the convenient store cashier. Why do you think Cassie derives so much pleasure from seeing Faye upset? How does Vincent respond? How does this event change him?
How would you describe the relationship between Rosamond and Agnes? In what ways do they grow closer as the story progresses?
Many of the citizens of Goliath think Rosamond is foolish to try to organize a parade after the factory closes. How do you feel about her efforts? In what ways does she fail to make the parade everything she had dreamed it would be? In what ways does she succeed?
Describe the Goliath Dorothy Blair, the aging movie star, sees when she returns in the epilogue. What do you think it meant for her to return and see it in this abandoned state? How do you think Rosamond would feel if she had been there to see Dorothy Blair return?