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Book club resources

Discussion questions for Justice for All: The Search for Big Poker Tom
  1. Which part of the book was most engaging for you? 

  2. Who was your favorite character? Your most despised character?

  3. Could you relate to the sheriff’s dilemma? His was in a no-win situation. Which way do you think you might have gone with the decision he had to make? Fight for US justice? Agree to allow Paiute justice to rule and turn Ah Quong Tai over to the Indians? Or the compromise that eventually played out?

  4. If you had been in Catherine Cody’s place, how do you think you might have responded? How about Gabby Hart’s place, the minister’s wife?

  5. How did you feel about Reverend Hart’s role in the story?

  6.  Did you feel that Ah Quong Tai got what he deserved?  Was it “equal protection under the law?” Why or why not? Why are there sometimes unfair practices against the poor and disadvantaged?

  7. What is justice? What is the opposite of justice? Justice for All, the title of the book, is, of course, the final phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance, “with liberty and justice for all.” For which people in the story was justice given? And for which was justice not given?

  8. Are there any lessons that you think can be learned from this story? Our country was in a state of transition. Are we still in transition and how does that affect whether justice is meted out today?

  9. There is a great call for justice and protection from injustice in our society today? Do you think most Americans want to see evil and wrong uncovered and punished? Why do you think justice and fairness are so important to us?

  10. Was the issue of some characters not having been given justice ever resolved in the book? How does this kind of book, being historical, yet filling in the blanks with some fiction, affect the outcome of the story? If you could have written it with disregard for history, how would you have liked to see it end?

  11. What role do mercy and compassion play in the administration of justice? Was there mercy and compassion shown in this story? Where?


additional questions for faith-based groups
  1. With a view of God as a just, fair, and righteous being, as Reverend Hart spoke of, was his role helpful or not? What would you have like him to do, if he could have? 

  2. In reality, man’s practice of justice, with the legal codes and procedures of our country, falls short of perfection. Why is that?

  3. Is it ever okay for full justice not to be given, that mercy and forgiveness be given instead? How does NIV Micah 6:8 (New International Version) play into your answer? "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

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