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We learn at the beginning of the story the reasons for Adam's journey and subsequent employment. Is he a sympathetic character as a result of his circumstances? How does he change throughout his time in Portugal? What are some examples of his naïvetß and what do you feel was his greatest challenge? What would you consider are the most significant, life-changing events throughout his story? What is your opinion of Adam?
Adam Runaway could be called 'a novel of embarrassment'. Discuss in what ways you think this might be true statement -- or not.
Discuss the character of Gomes. How do his childhood experiences affect him? Do you think he is a product of the abuse he experienced in the past? Do you think that any of his actions were justified or were they all simply immoral? Do you feel his end was a just one? Why or why not?
Dona Maria Beatriz Hutchinson, Gabriella Lowther and Nancy Hanaway all represent different things to Adam. Discuss the importance of women in Adam's life. What does he learn from his experiences with each of these women?
Family is a prevalent theme throughout the novel. Discuss the different examples of families within the novel. How do these families compare? In what ways are they similar? How does each family's class standing contribute to their relationships? How do Adam's views on family and responsibility change throughout his time in Portugal?
Describe the character of Dona Maria Beatriz. How does she represent the following themes in the novel: religion, tradition and fortitude? Do you agree with her decision to defy the Inquisition in the name of religious tradition? What is your overall opinion of Dona Maria Beatriz?
Consider the size and nature of the British presence in Lisbon in Adam's day. Do you think it was in any way beneficial, or purely exploitative? How does it compare with other forms of colonialism in history -- or in the present day?
How do the Inquisition and general religious differences represent morality in the novel? Discuss the celebratory atmosphere surrounding the executions in Lisbon. How is Adam affected by this? How are you affected by it? What effect does the Inquisition have on the overall picture of Portugal that Adam paints for us throughout the novel?
Discuss the relationship between Adam and Alan Hutchinson. Do you agree with Mr. Hutchinson's decision to report Señor Montesinhos and the other Jews in the house? Do you think he would have reported the activities in the house had he known of Dona Maria Beatriz's involvement? What is your overall opinion of Alan Hutchinson?
Discuss the relationship between Dona Maria Beatriz and Adam. Why do you think Adam is drawn to her and why is she drawn to him? Do you think he was in love with her?
"I was lucky. I saw snow falling late in April upon the Tagus River. And that is what I would like to dream of tonight. The snow coming down so large and dense, and the miraculous city of Dom Joao V retreating behind a veil of white, hiding its face, as if it knew in its stones that it was doomed." What does this final paragraph mean? Can you think of other examples of last paragraphs that stand out in your mind?
Born in England and educated in America, Peter Prince is the author of seven novels, including Play Things, which won the Somerset Maugham Award, and The Great Circle, and several television and film screenplays. He lives in London.