The Fall by Anthony McGowan has some of the finest writing we’ve ever published and we’ve just re-released it with a great new cover and fabulous new artwork by Staffan Gnosspelius. To mark the re-release we’ve created a series of discussion questions to help teachers support students in getting the most out of the book. The questions are below, and you can click the link to download in printer-friendly format.
Part 1 – Duffy
Chapter 1 – School
- Mog describes his school as a “heap” and the teachers as “mental”. What is your school like? What are the teachers like? Who is your favourite teacher? What is your favourite subject?
- There seems to be a lot of bullying at Mog’s school. Have you noticed any bullying at your school? Have you ever been bullied? What kind of bullying do you notice? Have you ever stood up to a bully?
- Who would you cast in the film version of this book? Mog, Chris, Duffy – what do you imagine them to look like? What physical characteristics do they have? What about the story makes you picture them in this specific way?
- What kind of soundtrack would the film version have? Can you name a specific song or genre you think would suit the story or a particular scene?
Chapter 2 – The Beck
- Mog and his friends like to jump over the beck for fun. What do you do for fun with your friends? Do you have any traditions with your friends or family?
- What do you think about the relationship between Mog and Chris? Did Chris value his friendship with Mog as much as Mog did? Why do you think this? Why did Mog like Chris so much?
- Do you think that Mog really liked Chris because they just “clicked” or because Chris was considered cooler and therefore improved Mog’s social status at school?
- The book says that Mog and Chris often stole little things together and gave them away to tramps and girls they fancied. What do you think of this pastime? Have you ever stolen anything?
- Mog thinks that Chris is “good”. He says that Chris wants other people to be happy and will stick up for people in a fight. Yet, he also steals things and does drugs. What do you think about Chris? Do you think he is “good” like Mog says? Do you think Mog is “good”?
- Mog admires Chris for his “good” qualities of sticking up for people and being nice to them. But when he is nice to Duffy, Mog has vastly different feelings. Why do you think this is?
- Would you consider Duffy to be uncool just because his mother kissed him goodbye? Has anything like this ever happened to you? Have you ever felt embarrassed by a similar situation?
- Why do you think people bullied Duffy after his mother kissed him goodbye? Mog says that someone should have stood up for Duffy but that then they might have been bullied as well. Would you stand up for Duffy or just stand by and watch him be bullied?
Chapter 3 – Duffy and Chris
- What do you think about Chris letting Duffy eat lunch with them even though he was considered “uncool”? Why did Chris do this?
- Mog and his friends have some unique tricks that they do at lunchtime. Do you have any hidden talents? Do your friends have any hidden talents?
- What do you think about Mog’s instant dislike of Duffy? Do you think he was jealous that Chris was giving Duffy attention?
- Would you jump over the beck? Does this sound like fun? Why do you think the beck was so dirty?
- Do you think Duffy’s jokes are funny? Mog says that Duffy has nothing to say, but he seems to always be talking to Chris. What do you make of this? Do you think that there might be a reason Mog doesn’t listen to what Duffy has to say?
- When Chris grabs Duffy’s hand to keep him from falling in the beck, Mog gets upset. Why do you think this is?
Chapter 4 – The Fridge
- If you were Duffy and Mog dared you to jump over the part of the beck with the fridge in it, would you? What if it meant fitting in and having friends?
- Have you ever tricked someone or has someone ever tricked you?
- What do you think about Mog tricking Duffy to jump over the beck? Did his plan to embarrass Duffy backfire?
- On page 36 Mog talks about how his biology teacher, Mr Wells, once described the difference between seeing something with your brain than with your eyes. What do you make of this? Do you understand what he means?
- Have you ever accidently fallen in a river or stream or had a similar embarrassing situation?
- Have you ever done something simply to impress your friends? Like what? If yes, did you end up impressing them?
- Have you ever befriended someone even though they were not considered cool? If yes, how did the friendship turn out?
- What do you think about the character of Duffy? Is he a good person? Would you be friends with him?
- Mog later feels bad for tricking Duffy. Do you think he should have apologised to him? Why did he take the fiver?
Part 2: The Crossbow
Chapter 5 – The Psycho Brother
- What do you think about Chris’s family/home life? Do you think he has a nice family? What is your family like?
- Chris initially does not get along with his brother Kevin. Do you have any siblings? Do you get along with them?
- Why do you think that Chris is no longer so friendly with Mog after the Duffy incident at the beck? What creates the distance between them?
- Why do you think Chris does not sit with the others during lunch anymore?
- Have you ever lost a friend after a specific incident? What happened? Do you wish you could change what happened?
- Chris clearly does not like his brother, but he ends up joining a gang with him. Why do you think this is?
- After the incident at the beck, Mog says that Chris started down a bad road. Why do you think this is? Did the incident at the beck trigger this? If yes, how so?
- Have you ever watched someone in your life start down a bad road? Did you do anything to stop them?
- If Mog noticed that Chris was changing and heading down a bad road, why didn’t he do anything to help him? Would you have done something?
- Why do Chris and Mog want the crossbow so much? Have you ever used a crossbow?
Chapter 6 – Got It
- Mog is really excited about the crossbow. Why do you think this is? Is he just excited for the hunt, or is he really excited to be spending time with Chris again?
- Do you think shooting rats with a crossbow sounds like fun? Have you ever been hunting? What do you think about hunting?
- Where do you imagine a scene like this taking place? What would the scenery look like? What kind of sounds would there be? Birds, crickets, water?
- Have you ever sneaked out of the house to do something with your friends? What did you do? Did you get caught?
- At first Chris won’t let Mog hold the crossbow. Why do you think this is? Would you want a go with the crossbow?
- On page 42 Mog describes their hunt as “almost religious, as if we were involved in some ancient rite. A sacrifice.” What do you make of this line? In what ways does this come true?
- Mog seems to be freaked out by the Gypsies. Have you ever seen any Gypsies? Why would someone be afraid of them?
- The fox fascinates Mog and Chris. Have you ever seen a fox or an animal in the wild before? What did you do?
- Can you imagine how a fox looks in the morning during a sunrise? What colours would it be? Would you think it beautiful as well?
- If you could have any wild animal for a pet, what would you choose? Why would you choose that animal? What would you name it? Or is it unfair to have a wild animal as a pet? Why/why not?
Chapter 7 – Hunter
- When Mog and Chris are waiting for the rats by the beck, Mog details all the smells and sounds around him as if he vividly remembers the experience. Have you ever had an experience that you remember so vividly? What sounds and smells do you remember?
- Mog smokes with Chris because he doesn’t want to let Chris down. Have you ever done something with your friends that you didn’t really want to do, but did anyways so as not to “let them down”? What did you do? How did this make you feel later?
- Mog says, “To me the crossbow was a cool weapon, an adventure, but for [Chris] it was something more.” What do you think the crossbow meant to Chris?
- Mog feels very powerful when he holds the crossbow in his hands. Is there anything that you have that makes you feel powerful? Perhaps when you play an instrument or a sport.
Chapter 8 – Killer
- Mog accidently shoots the fox with the crossbow. At first he laughs, but later he starts crying when he realises what he’s done. How would you react?
- Have you ever done something that you seriously regretted afterwards? What did you do to make it right?
- After Mog accidently wounds the fox Chris says, “You’ll have to kill him now” and then leaves for home without Mog. Does this incident remind you of the incident with Duffy in any way? Chris later describes how the fox was “beautiful and meant us no harm.” Do you think this line could also be connected with the incident with Duffy?
- Mog kills the fox so it will not be in pain anymore. This is a very difficult and vivid scene. Do you think you would be able to do what Mog did? How does this scene make you feel?
- Why do you think the death of the fox ends the relationship between Mog and Chris? Have you ever experienced a similar situation?
- What do you think the lessons or morals of the story are, if any?
- What about the story did you enjoy? What did you not enjoy? Would you recommend this story to a friend?
- If you could change anything about the story what would it be?