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Building the boat Sea Room Cover

As they gazed bow-on at her, the boat seemed luminous, as though the sunlight came from within her.   

— From Sea Room

A Reading & Discussion Guide for Sea Room

Note: the 2014 revised and expanded edition of Sea Room includes this guide.

Prepared by Suzanne Martell
Brooks Free Library, Harwich, MA

Discussion Questions

  1. An excerpt from the poem “Evangeline” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is
    provided on page 29. Pip has read this poem to Jordi on numerous occasions. What is the significance of “Evangeline” to the story? By repeating this poem, what does Pip want Jordi to understand?

  2. Compare and contrast similarities and differences between Acadian or Franco- American culture and that of “mainstream” America during the time of WWII.

  3. Discuss the joys and sorrows experienced by the family as Gil goes to war. How did individual characters react to Gil’s death in combat?

  4. The “Book of Job” from the Bible is mentioned or quoted numerous times throughout Sea Room. Discuss some of the similarities and differences between the story from the Bible and the story in Sea Room. How does having read the chapter in the Bible add to the understanding of some of the characters in Sea Room?

  5. How did individual family members deal with Pip’s impending death from cancer? What range of emotions were felt as he neared his death?

  6. Why is it essential that Jordi finish the boat before Pip dies? Talk about how it may have been different if Pip or Gil had not died.

  7. Compare and contrast the differences in spiritual belief between Pip and Nana. How are they similar or different to your own faith.

  8. What does Pip mean by “sea room”? Discuss a few instances where it is mentioned by different characters and what it means for each individual. Provide an example from your own life where you could have used some “sea room”.


Research the following topics as you prepare to discuss Sea Room:

  • Acadian and Franco-American Culture

  • Down East Maine culture

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Evangeline”

  • The “Book of Job” from any version of the Old Testament in the Bible

  • The history of boat building in Maine

  • The Penobscot Bay area of Maine

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