What is the meaning of the title, Touch?
2. In what ways is the town of Sawgamet a character in the book? How does Sawgamet change over time?
3. What is the significance of the theme of ownership and possession in the novel? Consider the ways that the ax, in particular, changes hands repeatedly.
4. Stephen describes himself sifting through different versions of the past as he remembers his childhood, his mother’s life, his grandfather’s stories. How do history and myth intertwine in the novel, and with what effect? Are we meant to take Jeannot’s stories of the past at face value?
5. In what ways is Touch a Canadian novel?
6. To you, who is the most memorable character in Touch, and why?
7. What does the frame of the narration – Stephen, in his stepfather’s study, telling us his versions of a past he has at second or third hand – add to Touch? (You might want to consider how the stories he tells would seem different without this frame.)
8. How do the different characters deal with tragedy and loss in the book?
9. Does Touch remind you of any other novels? Which, and why?
10. Which of the many romantic relationships in the book is the most meaningful and memorable, and why?
11. What roles do hot and cold play in the book, with what effect? How are extremes of hot and cold described as both inside and outside the characters, and why?
12. The philosopher Charles Taylor has written about our era as a “Secular Age,” in which the rise of rationalism has left the world bereft of enchantment. What do we lose when we leave spirits and gods behind? What does Stephen have to say about what happens to Sawgamet as it becomes modern?
13. What does Touch have to tell us about men? You can consider the father-and-son relationships in the book, but how do grandfathers, stepfathers and uncles matter too? How does Stephen relate to the different men in his life, as a child and as a grown-up?
14. What is the significance of the Bible in the novel?
15. Describe the importance of work in Touch.
16. Why does Stephen return to Sawgamet? What does he learn when he does?
17. What are the different versions of “raising the dead” in the novel, and how do they matter?
18. How would you describe the style in which Touch is written?
19. What do you make of the ending of the book?