The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam

Chapter 10 ~ 11 East

Discussion ~ 
    Coal mining takes on new methods, meanings, and values as Homer sends the men into 11 East to bring out a higher volume of coal.  Many new issues are raised, and the answers are neither obvious nor simplistic.  Several people reach out to Sonny, who is so absorbed in his own problems that he fails to realize the importance of any of them.  Still, exceptional groundwork is laid here for that which will come later in the story.

Writers' Workshop ~ 
(1) Make a list of all the things 11 East represents, and the people who recognize those meanings.  As you look at the plot lines you've been tracking since the beginning, where must this one rank in importance?  What can you learn about the structure of a good book by the timing of the introduction of this plot line?
(2) Mr. Dubonnet figures that Homer is "out to prove something on this one."  What do you think of his theory about what Homer wants to prove?

Freud's Couch ~ 
(1) Mr. Dubonnet reckons that Homer is a "good man" but not a "fair man".  What do you think of his reasons for saying this?  Why does he make the distinction?  Is the distinction valid?
(2) Sonny, finding Homer asleep on the stairs, declares that he cannot talk to his father about the mine "in any form."  Why is this?  Must fathers and sons always have these major issues between them about which they cannot talk?  What effect does that have on their relationship?
(3) Sonny closes the chapter by referring to himself as the "unforgiven son".  How many different elements have brought him to this point?  Considering all the elements you have noticed, is his despair well-founded?  Is any son ever truly unforgiven by his father?

Mountaineer Morality ~ 
(1) When Mr. Dubonnet gives Sonny some inside information, Sonny is shocked that an adult would be "so frank" with a child not his own.  West Virginians are known for keeping a "tight lip" outside their families about important issues, but here Dubonnet violates that "rule".  Why do you think he did so?  Considering that earlier in the story Sonny was shocked that his mother was frank with him, is his perception accurate or is this simply a case of Sonny overreacting to an adult conversation?

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