Discussion Guide

Click here for a printable version of the discussion questions below.

  1. Francois, the cage-maker, doesn’t want to take a commission from the wealthy Saloys. Why? Does his decision to create a cage for them mean he has compromised his own convictions? Is this his last compromise or only his first?
  2. The Cage-maker explores the “curse” of the corruption of money on a family. Is money the root of the evil or is it a person’s response to it? Is there a way to protect oneself from the corruption of money?
  3. Francois struggles with his feelings for Madame Saloy yet believes he has remained faithful to his wife. Has he?
  4. Dr. Le Monnier assigns Francois the task of writing down his truth, while he, himself, writes his own story in notes and journals for Pauline. Not to mention his book about the Battle of Shiloh. What role does writing play in The Cage-maker? Is writing an effective form of therapy? Of something else?
  5. Dr. Le Monnier claims he doesn’t believe in curses. Does his belief change by the end of the story?
  6. Each of these characters feels cursed –Andrew, Carmelite, Gladys, Francois, Madame Saloy, and Madeline Pons. Is there an easy explanation for each? Is anyone truly cursed?
  7. Two of the book’s major themes are regret and loss. What does Madame Saloy regret? What about her mother, Delores?
  8. The concepts of sanity and insanity are prominent in this book. What effect does fear have on the mental health of the main characters?
  9. What do you think happened to the sisters, Carmelite and Gladys? What role do you think their father, Felix, played in their demise?
  10. The Le Monnier mansion is one of the connections between Dr. Le Monnier and the Saloys. What are Dr. Le Monnier’s feelings about the house and about family tradition and honor? Discuss the symbolism of the Saloys adding a fourth story to Le Monnier’s familial home.
  11. Dr. Le Monnier longs to write about the Battle of Shiloh, yet his dealings with the cage-maker’s family seem to keep him from doing what he wants to do. In the end, is he able to complete his goal? Do you have dreams you want to accomplish but life keeps getting in the way? As Dr. Le Monnier finally learns, might it be possible that the messy distractions in our lives are as much a part of our purpose as the dreams we hold most dear?
  12. Trish, our modern-day blogger, is presented with the dark truths about her genetic heritage. Do you believe she is better off or worse for knowing about her familial past? Do you think she will someday tell her daughter about the legacy of the cage-maker? Can knowledge be a blessing?
  13. The Cage-maker is ultimately about understanding one’s own inheritance and then choosing to accept it or to reject it. The origin of familial sin goes all the way back to Cuba, and the potential for familial liberation lies in the hands of Trish. Do you think a single person can alter a family tree for better or for worse? Do you know of any real-life examples in which one person changed everything?
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