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Reader’s Den

Reader's Den: Discussion Questions for "The Human Stain"

After having a few weeks to read The Human Stain and consider the text, I would like to present a few questions that you can start to think about while you continue your reading. Feel free to click on Post New Comment below and join the discussion.

There are many questions to consider about the novel's main character, Coleman Silk.

  • For instance, is Coleman racist? Many characters in the novel debate whether or not Coleman Silk’s use of the word “spooks” was racist. Do you think it was? Why or why not? 
  • Also, who was the greatest love of Coleman Silk’s life: Steena or Faunia? Defend your choice. Was one relationship healthier for Coleman over the other? Was neither? Which relationship could you relate more to?

Coleman's relationship with narrator Nathan Zuckerman also plays a large part in the novel.

  • Was Nathan jealous of Coleman? Nathan’s battle with cancer ended with the loss of his virility. Coleman, at the end of his life, rediscovered his.
  • Nathan initially describes his friendship with Coleman as sort of finding a kindred spirit; both men had essentially lost everything. When Coleman reveals his relationship with Faunia, the friends eventually come into conflict. Was it jealousy… or maybe some other reason?

Do you think that too much about the plot and climax is presented too soon? 

  • The novel’s narrator Nathan reveals to us in the very first chapter that the story ends with the deaths of Coleman Silk and Faunia Farley. Do you think this was a good idea for the story?
  • Does knowing the ending ruin the entire story for you?

Go ahead and start discussing these questions, or feel free to post some of your own!


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Hi! I'm reading the book and I am a little bit confused. I'm reading it in English and I'm not a native speaker maybe I've misunderstood something. So the question: Is Coleman black or not? At the beginning I thought the he was Jew.. and if he's black how people can't see it? How can he conceal it? Thanks for the answers!

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