Study Guide

Eleanor & Park Suffering

By Rainbow Rowell


Sometimes, the pain and suffering described in Eleanor & Park is overwhelming. Eleanor's not only bullied at school, she's bullied horribly, in a scar-you-for-life kind of way. And the terrifying situation in her house is hard to even imagine. Eleanor's been abandoned by her mom, forgotten by her dad, and threatened by her stepdad, while her mom endures abuse on a daily basis, and Eleanor and her siblings huddle in fright. This book forces us to address suffering, and what happens when characters like Eleanor have to deal with it every day.

Questions About Suffering

  1. How does Eleanor deal with suffering at school? Is she the kind of person who asks for help?
  2. Sabrina's gone from a bad marriage to a very scary one. How has this changed her?
  3. Apart from the obvious bruises, how can you tell Richie abuses Sabrina? How does her behavior give it away?
  4. Poverty is yet another way Eleanor's family suffers. What are some of the details that let us know how serious their poverty might be?

Chew on This

The threat of Richie's abuse hangs over Eleanor's head for most of the book, and it seems like this threat causes as much fear and suffering as abuse itself.

Eleanor thinks that sleeping through the noises of her mom's abuse is even worse than waking up. She's right.