Study Guide

Life After Life Sexuality

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People were often so prude about sex in the early 1900s that it's surprising the human race didn't just die out. But even though people didn't talk about it, they still did it. Often. In Life After Life, Sylvie has five kids, for Shmoop's sake, but from the way she acts, you'd think she still thought babies were delivered via the stork. Just as women's rights are evolving at this time, so are attitudes toward sex, and once again, Ursula finds herself navigating this tricky landscape during her many lives.

Questions About Sexuality

  1. If Ursula weren't so ignorant about sex (because of the times, as well as her mother's own ignorance), how would things have been different for her? Why do you think this? Use the text for support.
  2. Why does Ursula feel personally responsible for her rape? How does this affect the rest of her life? How about her future lives?
  3. How do Ursula's sexual attitudes vary during her different lives? In what lives is she more experimental with sex? In what lives is she more traditional?
  4. How does the world's view of sex change over the time presented in the book? Who goes with the flow, and who resists the changing attitudes?

Chew on This

Sylvie's traditional views on sexuality—like women should remain "pure" until marriage—are extremely damaging when she blames Ursula for her rape.

As the world becomes a more dangerous place (we're looking at you, World War II), people loosen their attitudes toward sex because every day might be their last (whether they're reincarnated or not).

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