Study Guide

You Should Have Known Survival

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

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Both Jonathan and Grace represent survival in different ways. As Jonathan's former boss points out, Jonathan is 100% focused on his own survival, which leads him to treat people like they're disposable if they're not helpful to him. Because his conscience is more twisted than the handmade scarf from his mistress wrapped around his neck, Jonathan also alters his personality to cast himself in the most favorable light depending on who else is around. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Grace feels like her own survival is at risk after Jonathan disappears, but she forces herself to keep moving forward for Henry's sake. Within a few short months, she's blasting "Since U Been Gone" and is not only surviving, but thriving in her new community.

Questions About Survival

  1. How does Jonathan's strange fascination with the Klondike illustrate his views on survival?
  2. At what point in the story do you think Grace finally snapped into survival mode?
  3. How does Jonathan's penchant for changing his personality help him survive? How does it (or does it ever) hurt him?

Chew on This

Grace notes that Jonathan is like the dog in the Jack London story, concerned with its own survival while its master freezes to death.

Despite her husband disappearing after his mistress is murdered, it truly doesn't seem like Grace understands the severity of her situation until she learns that the police want to test Jonathan's DNA for a paternity test.

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