Study Guide: Labors of the Heart by Claire Davis
Characters: Clarence John Softitch (Pinky), Rose Spencer, Ray Tipp Location: Clarkston, Washington [Loyola High School]
Themes: obesity, discrimination, awakening, search for romance, … Questions:
What did the title make you think the story would be about? Were you surprised? Would you change the title?
Why do you think Davis uses such diversity of vocabulary to describe “fat” in the first paragraph?
Where does Pinky live and what is it like?
What is Pinky’s relationship status? What are his opinions on girlfriends and love (before Rose Spencer)?
Describe Rose Spencer.
Why does Pinky describe himself as a vessel? What does this tell us about his self-image/ self-esteem?
What kind of food does Pinky usually buy? List 4 items.
What reason does Pinky give Rose for why she should accept a ride home from him? Why does he think that way? How does she respond? What does this interaction show us about their respective personalities?
The next time Pinky sees Rose, how does he recognize her?
What does morbidly obese mean and how does it apply to Pinky?
What does Pinky help Rose with that starts off their friendship?
Why would Pinky envy Rose’s pain?
Why is it so important to Rose that she’s taking care of her own yard?
What happens in the grocery store that embarrasses Pinky and how does Rose react?
Comment on the process of Pinky sitting down.
Comment on Pinky’s simple pleasures, “river, melon, woman”.
Why does Rose tell Pinky about her past relationships? What baseball metaphor does Rose use & what is she referring to?
While by the river, there are 4 instances which express Pinky’s attraction to Rose. Identify two.
What is Pinky’s strategy (that he plots while in the gym)?
What thought gives Pinky a panic attack?
What does Pinky find interesting about the houses he passes on his way home from the gym that night?
Where does Pinky take Rose on the date? What complications does he experience?
What is Rose’s reaction to the film? What does she believe about love/romance? What is Pinky’s point of view?
What does Pinky think of when he thinks “25 years attempting love”?
How are (dusky-winged) ash aphids comparable to Pinky?
What about Rose does Pinky both fear and admire? Why?
How does Pinky define despair?
Why does Pinky finally decide he will change/continue losing weight?
What’s the turning point for Pinky? (What causes this change?)
What is Pinky’s reaction to Rose’s statement that she will “always be bitter”? Do you believe her?
What makes Pinky state/believe that Rose is dangerous? Do you agree/disagree?
What is Pinky’s dream for the future?
The author uses nature imagery to help illustrate Pinky’s growing awareness to the outside world and love. There are at least 12 of these references. Find 5.
big-boned/ hefty/husky/ oversized
struck by love
“wallowing like a whale”
“nap of hair”
“heart begins to toll”
woo and win
“anxious with coffee”
the whites (of the young boy’s eyes)
“charged with a static energy”
“three strikes, you’re out”
“take it or leave it”...