Group work on Orson Scott Card's "The Porcelain Salamander"

Break up into small groups. Delegate one or more members of your group to (1) prepare a summary of your group's discussion and (2) make a list of your group's members.

 Discuss your answers to the following questions.

1. Was the man who cursed Kiren morally wrong for cursing her (in a world where curses have efficacy)? Why or why not? Is the same man later heroic? Why or why not?

2. Do curses have efficacy in our world? Why or why not?

3. The narrator states, towards the end of the story, that the salamander's heart was full. What do you think was in the salamander's heart? Does it have anything to do with heroism and the human spirit? Explain your answer.

4. In your opinion, does the Salamander have a human spirit? If so, why so? If not, why not? What do the members of your group think could qualify someone to be a great souled individual?

5. In his "Afterword:  Maps in a Mirror" [p. 424; and "Afterword:  Monkey Sonatas", p. 299], Card hints at some important truths this story encapsulates.  Based on the story, what do you think these might be?

6.  What service does the salamander provide?   Is that service provided in our world?  If not, why not?  If so, how?


Michael Kagan, for Philosophy 403/COR 400G, Heroism and the Human Spirit, Le Moyne College
Last revised Sept. 19, 2016.