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
Freud's Couch ~
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