The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam

Chapter 22 ~ Back to the Drawing Board

Discussion ~  In this chapter we spend a little time at the launch pad with the Rocket Boys and catch up with various of their events.  Sonny also comes to the sad realization that his "to-do list" is now so long, he cannot imagine being able to finish everything.

Writers' Workshop ~ 
     (1)   Notice how this chapter is relatively short when compared to those on either end of it.  An author like Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code) intentionally uses short, fast-moving chapters that change scenes quickly to keep the reader turning pages.  Such a pace would be inappropriate for a memoir like The Coalwood Way, yet Our Author has a marvelous way of pacing his story to make it just as compelling.  If you haven't already done so, make a chart that shows the length of each chapter and some sort of column that allows you to record the number of themes or plotlines that are touched upon in the chapter.  Is it possible that Our Author created such a chart before he actually began to write the story?  (If so, it should make a nice technique for any young writer to copy!)
     (2)   Our Author completes an amazing analogy when Sonny recalls the snow goose, which takes the reader all the way back to Chapter 1.  Though we may have forgotten our original feelings about it, this metaphor comes to a dramatic completion with which we can all identify.   It is one of the most poignant lines in the book when Sonny thinks about the snow goose flying away and ponders, "Overwhelmed and oddly disheartened, I wished with all my heart I could do the same."  Think of some analogies you could use in your writing that would communicate some of the strong emotions you feel.

Freud's Couch ~ 
     (1)   What is really at the heart of Sonny's aggravation about Tug & Hug Yates being considered "Rocket Boys"?  How is this offset (or complicated) by Quentin's analysis that Sonny is a "prig"? 
     (2)   Sherman brings in another poignant point when he reflects that this is really the guys' last Christmas because when you leave Coalwood, you're not really a Coalwood Boy anymore - you're not actually part of the town.  This serves to remind all of us of the rites of passage that change our status in the world.  When we change schools, teams, neighborhoods, and even towns or states, some sort of transformation prevents us from ever being the same again.  It is why Thomas Wolfe says, "You can't go home again."  You should be able to recall at least one instance in your life when you returned to a place that was special to you at one time only to find that the relationship had changed so much that you no longer felt that you belonged.  Be sure to consider whether the place has changed, or whether it is changes within you that are most significant to the change in the relationship, or some combination of both.

Mountaineer Morality ~  only as connected to #2 above

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