Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford
Jamie Ford’s website
Discussion Questions 2011
By Kathy Harryman
1. Henry’s memories of the war years resurfaced with the discovery of the boxes and suitcases in the basement of the hotel. How do “time capsules” add to the knowledge of history? If you had to put together a box for 2011, what items would you include? Why?
2. Discuss the reasons for the animosity between the Chinese and the Japanese. Why did Henry’s father feel so strongly about Henry’s relationship with a Japanese girl? Did Keiko’s father have the same hatred? Why or Why not?
3. Discuss Sheldon’s role in the story. Does music bridge the gap between cultures? Why did Sheldon, a black musician, support Henry and Keiko?
4. Executive Order 9102 gave the President of the United States the power to relocate the Japanese, clearly a violation of the Constitution/Bill of Rights. In your opinion, does a president have the power to violate the Constitution/Bill of Rights? Justify your answer.
5. Jamie Ford, page 81, writes that Henry’s parents were “like ice cubes in America’s melting pot”. What does he mean? Does this attitude exist today?
6. Compare the history of the Chinese and the Japanese in American history. How are they alike? How are they different? Are there other cultures similar to these two?
7. Throughout this book, the reader gets a glimpse of what it means to be a non-white in an all white culture. Discuss bullying and what it means to both Henry and Keiko.
8. Discuss the internment camps in Washington and Idaho. Imagine a day in the life of these individuals. How does one keep their separate identity?