The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam

Chapter 14 ~ Snakeroot Hollow

Discussion ~  The progress of the story slows down a little in this chapter, and we get some humor to lighten things up.  Sonny has an adventure with the Junior Engineers that shows us his life is not all serious problems and analysis, though he still learns a lesson in the process.

Writers' Workshop ~ 
    (1)  Why does our author interject this silly story into what has mostly been a serious process so far?  How does the term "comic relief" apply to what is happening here?  Is this sort of thing appropriate in all stories?
    (2)  Sonny is asked how Elsie would know if he had gone to Cinder Bottom, and he replies, "This is Coalwood."  We are returned here to the meaning of the title of the book, because getting such news around is part of the "Coalwood Way".  What other parts of the "Way" have you discovered so far?

Freud's Couch ~  none right now

Mountaineer Morality ~ 
    (1)   Look at the ways Elsie characterizes the "fun" that Junior Engineers have.  Are all those things rightly considered "fun"?  After their excursion in WV, they are expected to never have fun again.  Are the things they are looking forward to not considered fun?
    (2)  Homer's method for "welcoming" Junior Engineers is to give them a week of 16 to 24-hour days to break them in.  Why does he use such excessive times?  This is definitely a WV trait.  Have you ever had a job for someone like Homer, who pushed you beyond "normal" limits?  What are they trying to accomplish?
    (3)  Referent to the Junior Engineers, Tag Farmer gets the line, "A goose is still a goose - don't matter where it flies in from."  In doing so, he gets to humble the 4 guys present, compare Americans and Germans, and teach Sonny a valuable lesson.  What is the meaning of this saying?  How would it be stated if it were not using references to mountain culture?

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