These questions contain SPOILERS for the book, THE SIX.
The issue of addiction touches most of us, either directly or indirectly. THE SIX is a mirror of the inner turmoil of someone who is suffering from an addiction: the challenges they face, and the terror of falling back into addiction after thinking he or she has beaten it.
What did you think of the story overall and how did it leave you feeling?
In the story, Brother Vito tells Evie that the monastery is a representation of an orderly mind. The number six and hexagons are prominent throughout the monastery, each room a hexagon and everything relating to the number six. If the monastery is a mind, what kind of mind do you think it represents?
How did you feel about Evie and the way she fell into her gambling addiction? Did you feel empathy for her or did you feel something else – angry or frustrated, perhaps? What could she have done differently?
Evie’s greatest fear is that she’ll lose Gray’s love if he finds out about her gambling and debt. What events in her past do you think made her so anxious about the prospect of Gray leaving her?
How did you feel about Gray’s character? What were his feelings towards Evie, Willow and Lilly? Was he too quick to believe that Evie could leave him and their daughters for a better life somewhere else? Do you think he should acted back when he noticed she seemed to be acting strangely (“up and down all the time”)?
Constance’s character had many different sides to it. How did you feel about her, once you’d seen all those sides? Do you feel that she became addicted to the easy life with James? Or was she just trying to do the best she could for her daughter, Kara?
What did you think of each of the six challenges of the program? Which one would you personally find the most difficult?
There is a Greek Chorus running through The Six. (A Greek Chorus is a collective voice that comments on the story.) Can you pick what represented the chorus in THE SIX? Hint: They are not human. If the chorus was speaking in words, what do you think it would be saying?
There are two women who have each lost a brother in THE SIX. A third woman also lost her brother, but under very unusual circumstances (too much of a spoiler to put it here). What are your experiences of women’s relationships with their brothers? How did the brothers of the three women in THE SIX shape them as they were growing up?
There is a challenge in which the participants must each face a dark mirror. Why do you think they had such a difficult time with this seemingly simple challenge? This is a link to a real life ‘dark mirror’ experiment: https://mindhacks.com/2010/09/18/the-strange-face-in-the-mirror-illusion/
There is a terrible room in the final chapters of THE SIX in which Evie finds 12 participants. Remembering that the monastery is a representation of the inner workings of someone’s mind, what do you think this room is saying about addiction?
What did you think about the way psychopathy is represented in the story?
THE SIX was written as commercial, genre fiction. The themes and construct are very much behind the scenes.
Construct – a mind within a mind: The construct of THE SIX is a mind within a mind. The monastery is meant to represent an orderly mind – and that order is meant to change those who live within its walls. But the monastery itself is just a thought process within the mind of someone who is newly addicted and just realising that they are trapped within that addiction.
Persona: The monastery represents a face. The inner layout of the monastery is an eye (see the map).
The six challenges: These represent a hit (or high). They are dangerous, but give a tremendous high.
The dormitories: These represent the ‘coming down’ from a high, in which the sufferer returns to their previous state – in a dark place in which they grapple with their fears.
The metronomes: These represent the ceaseless drive that has been set in place by the addiction. They run day and night.
The Greek Chorus: This is the collective voice of those who are worried for the person with the addiction. But the sufferer isn’t tuning into their message. And the Greek Chorus doesn’t have any clear understanding of what the sufferer is going through – they are outside the walls and free.
The cellar: This represents the sufferer suddenly realising they’re trapped in addiction. They thought they were in control, but they discover that the addiction has control of them.
Water: The island is surrounded by an ocean (preventing escape), the most dramatic/horrifying scene involves water, water runs in a continuous stream in a circle around the garden, an escape plan involves water and the 12th century inhabitants were tortured with water. As a theme in the book, water is both a life-giver and a tormentor.