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4.  Ellsben loses his family when he is sold. Mont's mother abandons him when he is a young child, and his father leaves him to fight in the war. Cal's mother dies when he is an infant, and his father is assassinated. Loss and abandonment are central themes in the novel. Compare and contrast how Ellsben, Mont, and Cal deal with the loss they suffer. What other characters in the novel suffer a loss or are abandoned by someone close to them?

 

5. Stro, the farmer who gives Cal, Mont, and Ellsben food and shelter, is a kind, generous man. However, he has fought for and supports the Congressers. This, from Cal's standpoint, means Stro is an enemy. Yet Stro is kind and generous. How does Cal's interaction with Stro change his view of the war? Is one side of a conflict always wrong? Can people on both sides of a conflict be good and decent?

 

6. What is your favorite scene or part of the story? Why?

 

7. Kozal betrays Cal. Later Kozal is killed while protecting Cal. Does this last act redeem Kozal? Do you think Kozal is a villain? Why or why not?

 

8. Cal hesitates when it's his turn to cross the bridge that goes over the snake-infested river. He has a bad feeling about the bridge. Ellsben and Mont have already crossed, and this makes Cal think he can't refuse to use the bridge. As Cal crosses the bridge it collapses, sending him down into the snake-infested water. How do you think Ellsben and Mont would have reacted if Cal had listened to the bad feeling he had and refused to use the bridge? If he didn't use the bridge, what other way could Cal have found to cross the river?

 

9. When Cal is bitten by the poisons river snake, he ends up unconscious and almost dies. After he recovers, he shows a newfound confidence. He makes wiser decisions and demonstrates the ability to be a strong leader. Why do you think coming so close to death gives him confidence?

 

10. There are many events and situations in Shadows of Ghosts that parallel events and situations from the US Civil War. How many parallel events and situations did you notice?

1. Who is your favorite character? Would you like to be this character? Why or why not?

        

2.  Cal and Mont come from very different backgrounds. Their personalities are very different. Why do you think they become such close friends?

 

3. When the war starts, Cal is sent by his father to live in a remote village. Though this is for Cal's safety, he resents being sent away. He is angry at his father for sending him away. After his father is assassinated, Cal feels guilty for having been angry with his father. Explain how Cal overcomes the guilt he feels.

Reading Group Guide