Discussion Questions: Orbiting Jupiter

Discussion Questions for Orbiting Jupiter

  1. Jack’s parents want Jack to know just what they are getting into when they take a foster child (Joseph) into their home. Do you think this information really prepares Jack?
  2. What do cows tell Jack about Joseph? Do you think this is an accurate and reliable impression?
  3. Right away Joseph faces opposition, starting from the moment he gets on the bus. When Joseph walks off the bus, Jack follows him even though he barely knows Joseph yet. Why do you suppose he does this?
  4. What do you think about Mr. Canton’s comment, “Kids like Joseph Brook aren’t always normal.” (pg. 21)
  5. Some of the teachers, like Coach Swieteck and Mr. D’Ulney, give Joseph a chance. Why do you think they were willing to do this, especially in view of Mr. Canton’s comments?
  6. When Joseph’s father shows up at the farm, what do the cows say about him? Do you think they are right?
  7. Why does Joseph walk out onto the Alliance when the ice is unsafe? Why does Mr. Canton save them personally? What are the results of this incident? How does this incident affect Jack and Joseph’s relationship?
  8. What does Jack’s reaction to Jay Perkin’s comment “bust your foster brother up” mean?
  9. What do you think of Mr. Canton’s definition of responsibility? (pg. 59)
  10. As we read Chapter 4, we learn Joseph’s whole story. What do you think of Madeleine’s family and their reactions? What about those of Joseph’s father?
  11. As we hear Joseph’s history, we learn that after Joseph had spent a month in Stone Mountain, Mrs. Stroud (social worker) decides to see if she can move Joseph to the farm owned by Jack’s family. Why does she do this? Why do you think they accept him when they haven’t taken in any boys in nearly twelve years?
  12. Ernie Hupfer warns Jack that trouble is coming Joseph’s way and that he, Jack, should be careful, too. Mr. Canton reminds Jack that “Trouble follows him (Joseph) like a yellow dog.” (pg. 97) Even Jack’s parents warn him not to not to get pulled into Joseph’s trouble. Do you think they believe that the three-on-one fight was fair? Was there a better action for Jack to take to help Joseph?
  13. Christmas Eve is the first time Joseph ever attends any type of religious service. He gets into a theological debate with Reverend Ballou, though Joseph really has no background to do so. What do you think of Joseph’s ideas? What do you think of Reverend Ballou’s reaction?
  14. What do you think of the present that Jack’s parents give Joseph? Do you think they should get involved?
  15. Brook hires a lawyer and is allowed to visit Joseph. What do you think about Mr. Brook’s feelings toward Joseph and Jupiter? What do you believe are his real intentions?
  16. The minute Joseph learns where Jupiter is, he takes off. Jack knows immediately where he had gone. Two days later, Jack and his parents go looking for Joseph. Do you think they are right about his whereabouts? Although they are advised not to go after him, do you think they should?
  17. Pastor Greenleaf asks Jack, “The boy isn’t your brother?” Why would he think they were brothers? And what about Jack’s answer, “I’ve got his back?” (147)
  18. While looking for Joseph, Jack decides to go into the library and by chance meets the librarian who has given Jupiter a foster home. What do you think of her comment, “But he can’t love her just for himself. He has to love her for her, too.” (pg. 154)
  19. The foster mother/librarian agrees to keep Joseph informed about Jupiter. Does this have a positive effect on Joseph? How do you know?
  20. After reading the end of chapter eight and chapter nine, answer the question: What is greater love?

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