Discussion Questions for "Jewel's Hell" by Lynn Hesse

1. “Jewel’s Hell” is set in the projects in Atlanta, Georgia. To what extent do you think the prevalence and patterns of domestic abuse differ in impoverished and prosperous environments?

2. How do you feel about reading a story in which the main villain is a woman in an anthology of Me Too stories? What or whom do you tend to blame for societal patterns of violence, disrespect for women, and similar social ills? In light of your beliefs, does this story make you uncomfortable?

3. Bess is cruel and abusive toward her daughters, but she herself was molested by her father as a child. Does that fact make you feel any sympathy for her?

4. How do you imagine Jewel’s frame of mind as she walks down the hallway with a gun to face Bess? What is your opinion of her mental health, her sense of responsibility, her justification for what we know she is about to do? Do you think the presence of a gun in the home contributes to the probability of violence or offers protection?

5. What do you think of Jewel’s decision not to leave because she won’t leave Callie behind, and then, when Callie escapes, to take drastic measures to make sure her sister stays free? Is it a sacrifice? An act of love? Foolish and unnecessary? What other options might she have had?