Study Guide

Life After Life Life, Consciousness, and Existence

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Life, Consciousness, and Existence

Video games aren't the only place where you can get infinite lives. Ursula's life can seem like a video game in Life After Life, one with endless continues. And just like when you're trying to perfect that Ocarina of Time speedrun, Ursula uses each subsequent trip through her life to tweak and alter things in order to make it perfect. Living so many lives gives her plenty of time to ponder the nature of life itself, and whether it even is possible to have a perfect run at it.

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. How do the characters find meaning in life during the atrocities of war? Use examples from the text, please.
  2. How does Ursula's attitude toward life in general change during each of her lives? In which lives does she value life? In which lives does she throw it away? How can you tell?
  3. Does Ursula ever understand that she's being reincarnated? Use the text to support your claim.
  4. Dr. Kellet tells Ursula that "Nirvana is the goal. Non-being, as it were." Will Ursula ever achieve Nirvana? Does she want to?

Chew on This

Despite being reincarnated time and again, and having infinite lives, Ursula eventually develops an appreciation for her life and lives it to the fullest.

Because the novel doesn't show us the grief process after Ursula's deaths, it becomes a novel about life, not a novel about death.

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