Study Guide

The Danish Girl Memory and the Past

By David Ebershoff

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Memory and the Past

We remember the last really good Danish we ate, just like we remember the last really good book we read. It was buttery and flaky with a creamy cheese filling (the Danish, not the book, silly). How could we forget anything as delicious as that?

Well, in The Danish Girl, Einar's memory is a little dicey. If he ate a Danish as Einar, he wouldn't remember it as Liliā€”but not vice versa. Einar and Lili don't just explore two genders; they seem to explore two different brains, and their ability to access each other's thoughts follows an interesting logic.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why do Einar and Lili sometimes function as two separate people with different memories?
  2. What mistakes from Greta's past does she try hard to not repeat? What parts of her past does she run from?
  3. What do the flashbacks add to the story?

Chew on This

Lili feels a lot younger than she is because she doesn't have many memories. She is like a child in this way.

When Lili severs Einar's memories, Greta takes it upon herself to carry them with her.

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