The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam
Chapter 13 ~ Jim's Decision
Discussion ~ Educational issues take the forefront in
this chapter, wherein some are very serious and some more frivolous.
Sonny has difficulty with friends, girls, and his brother, which keep adding
to the concerns he has on his famous list. Jim provides a shocking pronouncement,
and Sonny licks his lips at the tasty troubles this is going to cause.
Writers' Workshop ~
(1) Principal Turner "accosts" Sonny, asking him
why Billy Rose is quitting school. Sonny is thoroughly caught off guard
by this news, sputtering in his reply. The principal delivers a tough
shot by saying, "a man should take care to observe his friends lest they be
needful." Why is Sonny held accountable for his friend's decision?
How does the nearly Biblical wording of the principal's statement add emphasis
and meaning to it? Can this technique be used in every sort of story
by nearly any writer?
(2) Sonny is suddenly afloat in femininity as
he finds himself attracted (and attractive) to a trio of girls: Dorothy,
his former flame; Melba, a "real" woman; and Ginger, who is characterized
as "okay". How does this situation add complexity to the storyline?
Is this situation serious or humorous or both? Look at how carefully
the girls are described and separated. What are the qualities that put
each of them into different "categories"? Why are triangles such an
appealing strategy to authors?
(3) Sonny also rhapsodizes on all of Jim's good
qualities, then says, "otherwise, I couldn't imagine the attraction."
What does Sonny really think
of his brother? Why does he use sarcasm at the end of a list of good
qualities his brother possesses?
Freud's Couch ~
(1A) Sonny says
(with no small measure of satisfaction and gloating), "All that bragging that
Dad had done over the years about Jim and never about me was going to come
back at both of them now." Why has Homer been much more openly proud
of Jim than of Sonny over the years? Is the disparity in praise as
great as Sonny thinks? Why is he happy to see both his dad and Jim embarrassed?
Are younger children more likely to have such emotions than the eldest child?
How does Jim probably see the situation? How do we expect Homer to
really feel about Jim's announcement?
to the above, write about situations in your own home in which sibling rivalry
leads to conflict between the children and also with the parents. Develop
a future situation which would lead your parents to see your strengths while
minimizing your sibling or siblings' accomplishments.
Mountaineer Morality ~
(1) Sonny quotes
Red Carroll has having said, "Never wake up a dog unless you want to get bit."
In this case, what does this saying mean? Who is the "dog" referred
to, and what is the issue about which it could be awakened? Think of
a situation in your own life to which this thought could be applied.