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
(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
Mountaineer Morality ~ none this chapter