It Happened on the Oregon Trail - 30 general chapter questions:

  1. Which mattered more to a successful journey over the Oregon Trail, skill or luck? If you were forced to go west against your will, what character trait would you need most for survival?
  2. Did you change your opinion of any character in the book from the beginning of the story to the end? If so, why?
  3. Which obstacle would present a bigger challenge to you along the Oregon Trail, a physical challenge or an emotional one?
  4. Would you have rather been a man or a woman in the 1840s – 1880s? Why?
  5. The white man’s opinion of the Native American Indians ranged from superiority and disgust to intrigue and friendship. What was it that caused such a wide range of attitude?
  6. Which character in the book can you most identify with and why?
  7. Explain which character you felt the most contempt for.
  8. Do you think that women in the 1840s – 1880s felt hemmed in, or do you think that they simply lived within the confines of their time?
  9. Which story moved you the most and why?
  10. If you could have lived the life of any character in the book, which would it be? Which character would you least like to be?
  11. Could you survive leaving your extended family and friends behind to go over the Oregon Trail and never see them again? How did people cope with loneliness?
  12. What accounts for some people being passionate about the past (history) and others having no real interest in it?
  13. What is the significance of pregnant women not mentioning in their journals that they were with child until the actual birth event?
  14. What surprised you most about the book? About any character in particular?
  15. On some level do you think the young American nation felt that they were doing the Native Americans a disservice? Why or why not?
  16. Is there any situation in which indiscriminate retaliation is justified?
  17. The leaders of the Mormon Church encouraged vast multitudes of believers to establish faith communities in the Salt Lake Valley area in Utah. Do you feel they were more concerned with that goal than with the well-being of the individuals traveling over the trail? If so, is this position justifiable?
  18. Given the fact that having a large family meant that there were more hands to help with the chores, do you think women were happy with having such large families?
  19. If you were a Native American Indian, what would have surprised you the most about the emigrants? How do you think Native Americans feel today about having their country taken over? Is it possible for you to put yourself in their shoes?
  20. Explain who had the hardest time on the trail, the men, the women, or the children?
  21. How would you have handled the lack of privations along the trail? What would have been the most difficult situation to deal with?
  22. It was not a woman’s place to disagree with her husband’s decisions in the 1800s. Do you think your husband would have considered your opinion to go west or not? Do you think you could have influenced him? If so, how?
  23. Would you have gone west over the Oregon Trail? Why or why not?
  24. What is your opinion of women naming their offspring after the terrain where they were born? Would you like having such a name?
  25. What would have vexed you most along the journey west?
  26. What do you think was the single greatest cause for poor relations between the Indians and the settlers?
  27. What more could the Native American Indians have done to protect their land and preserve their way of life from the encroaching emigrants?
  28. Do you think segregation was in effect amongst the different ethnic groups traveling west? What makes people come together and what makes them isolate themselves?
  29. Do you feel that you would have been emotionally equipped to deal with all the trials of life on the trail? How would you cope if you were forced to be in a stressfulsituation?
  30. What is it that makes one person content to never leave their hometown and another want to travel to new places?