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Chapters 1-2 Study Guide

1. Identify each of the following characters:
Alcee Grope':
Miss Emma:
Reverend Ambrose:
Tante Lou:
2. Why is the defendant on trial? What is the defendant's story? What is the prosecutor's version of the events? What do you think is the most damaging evidence? What is the verdict? What is the sentence?
3. Explain how you would vote if you were on the jury and why you would do so.
4. What do you learn about the narrator? What does Miss Emma ask him to do? Why? How does he feel about his ability to help?
5. Why is Henri Pichot important to Miss Emma?
6. Prediction: What will happen at the Pichot Plantation?
7. Write a five-senses poem about Jefferson's emotions at the trial (e.g., Hopelessness, Despair). (Five-sense poem: Line 1: color of the emotion; Line 2: sound of the emotion; Line 3: taste of the emotion; Line 4: smell of the emotion; Line 5: sight (what the emotion looks like); Line 6: feeling evoked by the emotion

Chapters 3-6 Study Guide

1. Who goes to Henri Pichot's? Explain what happens there. Why do you think Miss Emma reminds Pichot of what she's done for the family?
2. How does Grant feel about entering the Pichot house through the back door? What does this symbolize for him?
3. Name Miss Emma's two primary concerns for Jefferson. Which do you think is the most important to her?4. Describe Vivian and explain her significance to the story. What does Grant want the two of them to do? Why?
4. Describe Vivian and explain her significance to the story. What does Grant want the two of them to do? Why?
5. Describe Bayonne and identify signs of segregation.
6. Describe life for the black children in the quarter.
7. Describe Grant's classroom and his role as a teacher. What do you think the Westcott ruler symbolizes to him?8. What transpires between Sheriff Guidry and Grant?
8. What transpires between Sheriff Guidry and Grant?
9-12 - List any evidence of racial prejudice that occurs in the locations listed below...
9. Courthouse
10. Henri Pichot's house
11. School/church
12. Town of Bayonne

Chapters 7-11 Study Guide

1. Who is Dr. Joseph? Why is he significant to the story? Do you think he is sincerely interested in the education of black children? Why or why not? (p. 51-58)
2. Identify Matthew Antoine and explain his influence on Grant Wiggins. What do you think he means by "Here is the burden" (p. 63)? (p. 62-65)
3. Explain the social structure among the black people in the novel. Note Antoine's opinion of those darker than he, the reaction of Vivian's family to her husband, and Tante Lou's initial reaction to Vivian.
4. Prediction: Will Matthew Antoine's prediction that nothing Grant does will ever make a difference prove right or wrong?
5. Who makes the first visit to Jefferson in jail? What happened?(p. 67-74)
6. Describe the courthouse and the jail cell. Why do you think this is significant? (p. 68-69)
7. What is different about the fourth visit? How does Jefferson react to the food Grant brings? What does this signify? (p. 77-85)
8. Why does Grant become angry with his aunt? (p. 79)
9. What will Grant tell Miss Emma about his visit to Jefferson? How will she react?

Chapters 11-19

1. How might the first line of the novel (“I was not there, yet I was there.”) impact the reliability of the narrator?
2. What is the nature of the conflict between Grant and Reverend Ambrose? Describe Grant’s struggle with religion. What is Vivian’s take on his faith?
3. On the very first page Miss Emma is likened to “a great stone” and “one of our oak or cypress stumps” and in Chapter 15 Tante Lou is likened to “a boulder in the road.” What do these and other instances of strongly rooted or anchored earth elements tell us about these two women?
4. In Chapter 17, both Paul and Grant say that they will do their duty in respect to Jefferson. Is the importance of doing one’s duty a dominant theme of the novel? Does each of the other main characters have a clear idea of his or her duty? - describe their duties.

Chapters 20-22

1. When is Jefferson's scheduled execution date? Why is it this date?
2. How are Grant and Reverend Ambrose treated when they are called to the Pichot house to hear the execution date? Why are they treated this way?
3. How does Grant react to the announcement of the execution date? How does Miss Emma react?
4. What does Vivian say to Miss Emma when she visits her after the announcement of the execution date? Why is this significant?
5. What do you think Grant means by his statement, "They want me for their own" on page 165?
6. How does Grant feel African-American men have failed?
7. Describe the change Grant sees in Jefferson once the execution has been announced. Why the change?

Chapters 23-24

1. Describe what happens when Jefferson gets the radio. How is he changed? What conflict results from him getting the radio?
2. What is Grant's definition of a hero? What is your definition of a hero? How are the definitions? How are the definitions different?
3. What is Jefferson's reaction to his and Grant's discussion about heroes?
4. Why does Grant need Jefferson?

Chapters 25-31

1. What does Grant NOT want to speak to Vivian about?
2. What DOES Grant want to tell Vivian about?
3. Why are the bricklayers abusive to Jefferson and, by extension, to Grant?
4. Why does Grant go ahead and fight despite telling himself not to? (In your opinion.)
5. Why is Vivian “disgusted” with Grant after the fight?
6. What is Vivian’s new problem with her husband?
7. Why does Grant threaten to leave?
8. What does Vivian want out of Grant that would be “real love”?