Reading Discussion Questions for

Have Your Ticket Punched by Frank James

by Fedora AMIS

What to wear: The one item in your wardrobe that says “Gay Nineties ” better than any other.
What to drink: Coffee or Milk Punch
What to serve: Coconut Macaroons

1. Did you ever want to live in 1898?  Do you still want to after reading  Have your Ticket punched by Frank James?

2.  How does Jemmy see herself?  Is having a career desirable for a girl in her position?  In the 19th century, women who wanted careers instead of families were considered unnatural.  Does that attitude still hold true today? Was it possible then or now for a woman to “Have it all”?

3.  How do you view Jemmy’s relationship with her partner, photographer Hal Dwight? With her Mother? Her sisters?

4.  Celebrity is important in Have your Ticket punched by Frank James.  We meet actors, boxers, acrobats and criminals. How did the 19th Century treat people with talent, skill or charisma?  Do we value fame differently in our own times?

5.  What is Jemmy’s attitude toward friendship with classmates Pervia Benigas and Sassy Patterson?  Do these views change during the course of the book?

6.  Which of the ladies do you believe to be most representative of the 19th century--Lucy Leimgruber, Anna James, or Mrs. Patterson? Which would you prefer as your own friend?

7.  Jemmy uses Autley Flinchpaugh without regard to his feelings. Sassy manipulates several men at the same time. Frank James uses Jemmy to gain publicity.  Is this trait universal in humans?

8.  After Jemmy’s father died and her mother opened their home to boarders, Jemmy had to learn to do physical work.  Has that strengthened her character as well as her muscles? Would she have been the same daring Jemmy if her father had lived?

9. Trappings of 19th century life--especially Thanksgiving celebrations--take on added meaning in Have Your Ticket Punched by Frank James.  Do the McBustles cope well with unexpected problems?

10.  Showmanship and pageantry form a central theme.  Did any of the extravaganzas surprise you?  Were the elaborate entertainments of yesteryear less spectacular than modern ones? Would you prefer spur-of-the-moment amusement like sledding down the big mound?

11.  Jemmy has a career she loves despite its challenges. At the same time, her Aunt Delilah is planning a grand tour of Europe--something Jemmy has longed for since she was a little girl. Which do you think she’ll choose? Which would you choose?

12.  Striving to “Be all that you can be” is prized in America? That may explain why some famous criminals like Frank and Jesse James were then and still are admired. What insight does this give into the American psyche?

13.  In life, some events turn out to be very different from our original hopes and plans.  Could the debacle at Uhrig’s Cave have been avoided?  How?

14.  Questions of money, class and social expectations run through this novel. Jemmy’s uncle Erwin McBustle is rich as are Peter Ploog, Pervia Benigas and the Pattersons.  How do their lives differ from the laboring folk like household servants, salespeople and entertainers?

15. Personal appearance takes on a central role. We meet unattractive creatures like the calico cat, John Folck, Autley Flinchpaugh, Dr. Wangermeier and his drab assistant. We also meet beautiful people like Jemima McBustle, Duncan McBustle, Lt. O’Rourke, Quisenberry Sproat, Handsome Harry Benson, Tom Rafferty, Mrs. Patterson and her stunning daughter Sassy. Has our attitude towards beauty changed since 1898?