The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam

Chapter 16 ~ Roy Lee's Lament

Discussion ~  As our story continues to develop, a NASA rocket blows up, sending a chill through the "Rocket Boys", though they are relieved that it is an Atlas rocket, not one of Werner Von Braun's.  Sonny has the chore of gathering the "greens" for Christmas decorating, but the mood seems to be far from Christmas-like for most characters.  Meanwhile, 11 East becomes more of an issue as it continues to "eat up foremen" daily.

Writers' Workshop ~ 
    (1)  Though extremely short, this chapter does a lot to develop several story lines.  The author does a wonderful job of "sneaking in" information about the various plot lines while seeming to tell us a simple story.  Make a diagram of this chapter, showing how each plot line is added to.  Once again, we have an opportunity to see a master craftsman at work, and learn excellent techniques for creating interesting writing.
    (2)  An element of mystery is interjected when Homer says, "I don't want him to know what we're doing there."  Why is he being so secretive?  Who all is he trying to keep from knowing about his work at 11 East?  Look how well the author has kept us in the dark, as well.  What do you think is happening at 11 East that would require secrecy?  How do you expect this plot line to turn out?
    (3)  Even in a short chapter, things can happen suddenly.  Two of the "legs" of Sonny's triangle seem to disappear here.  Do you think these developments are permanent?  What would now seem to be Sonny's only remaining choice?  Do you expect a good writer to conclude this plot line so early in the book?  (A good book is a lot like a chess game.  It has a well-defined opening, middle, and closing "game".  At this point, we are in the "middle game", where development of characters and plot lines must take place in order to give the thoughtful reader plenty to think about.  Are you thinking?)

Freud's Couch ~
    (1)  Elsie refuses to help Dreama get her tooth fixed, in what seems to be a reversal of opinion.  Though she admits that it's mean not to help, she agrees with Cleo on this subject.  Why is she taking this stance?  What does she consider unacceptable about Dreama?  What does she probably think about Sonny's interest in this situation?
    (2)  Roy Lee puts a humorous spin on the fascinating subject of Melba's figure.  (If you do not know the song "Brazil", you should look it up on-line.)  In spite of that, how do you think the two boys (Roy Lee and Sonny) look at Melba differently?  As the chapter title implies, what is Roy Lee actually "lamenting"?  Do you think the two boys are too interested in Melba's shape?

Mountaineer Morality ~  none this chapter

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