The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam

Chapter 26 ~ The Second Son

Discussion ~  A wedding is planned, while Sonny develops a very complex pageant script.  A near-tragedy turns somewhat humorous, causing Sonny to wallow a little in self-pity about being the "Second Son".

Writers' Workshop ~  note only: pay attention to the way Our Author transforms the disaster with the car into something completely different than we thought it would be.

Freud's Couch ~
     (1)   Sonny briefly mentions that he has asked Melba to the Prom.  What do you think were his reasons and motivations for doing so?  An old saying goes that if we "act in haste" we shall "repent at leisure".  Do you think this saying applies here?  How can you imagine this playing into the remainder of the story?
     (2)   Following the car disaster, Roy Lee tells Sonny, "You're just not hero material."  Is this statement true, or does it only apply to certain types of heroes?  What are the characteristics of a hero in a story like this one?  Is Sonny the de facto hero because he ends up writing the story?  Is Sonny a different kind of hero than Roy Lee is visualizing?  As a writer, how do you make your main character both heroic and unheroic at the same time?
     (3)   Roy Lee also provides a little birth-order philosophy when Sonny asks if his parents like Jim better.  What do you think of his analysis?  Where do you fit in your family's birth order?  How would you characterize the special feelings that come with being a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, middle, last, or 12th child in a family?  Understanding the issues attendant to such positions makes the characters you write about more believable.

Mountaineer Morality ~
     (1)   Sonny expresses the opinion that "If you can't do a thing perfectly, it's not worth doing at all."  (I can't tell you how many times I heard that when I was growing up, though it was generally modified into the more usual, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well.")  How do you feel about that philosophy?  Is it still prevalent in today's world?  Quentin follows up with the theory that things perish when they reach perfection.  Is that philosophy more "up your alley" or do you disagree?  Why does Quentin even say this?

Return to the Mainpage