|Photographs from the collection of SMU's DeGolyer Library.|
Matilda's father Jacob makes a virtue of being good at his job. Is it always a virtue?
Matilda often speaks wistfully of her life in the Georgetown mansion. How do you explain her hopeless romanticism?
Why can't Martin allow Matilda to continue as his business partner? Why can't they be close?
David and Matilda seem to connect in ways that she and his father are unable to. What does David see in his aunt that his father is unable to?
Matilda can't or won't forgive Roderick. Why not? What (if anything) are each of them unable to understand about the other?
In what ways is Jacob (the younger) every bit a Housewright?
Explain Matilda's preference to withhold herself from society.
Important milestones in the history of black America pass even as Matilda's life seems mostly static. Why would this be so? Is it so?
Matilda rejects your pity and surely your judgment of her life and her choices. Do you pity her? How do you judge the choices she made in her life?
Matilda passes forward a number of powerful legacies through generations of Housewrights. What legacies are worth preserving? Which are better consigned to the past?