The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam
Chapter 6 ~ Float Night
It's the night before
the big parade, and anticipation fills the air. As it turns out, the
anticipation is about much more than just the parade. Once again, our
beloved author demonstrates his skill. His ability to create a setting
in two simple paragraphs is masterful. As the chapter progresses, we
get humor, romance, and pathos all in a compelling package. The mixture
sends us on a roller coaster of emotions, helping to fill out important characterizations
and plot lines in the book. His ruminations on Billy and Dreama help
develop two major plot lines.
Writers' Workshop ~
(1) Look closely at
the author's description of his recollection of Sherman in his French uniform.
What are the elements he uses to provoke us to laughter? Try describing
someone you've seen before in an unusual costume. Remember, it will
be more humorous if there is a serious aspect to the situation, just as it
(2) Our author resurrects
the theme of the snow goose, but now applies it to Dreama, differently than
he earlier applied it to himself. How does he advance the story by
(3) In reference to
his assault on the cookie table, Sonny puts a new twist on a possible adage,
"The advantage is always to the persistent over the weary." It is often
effective as a writer to put a unique spin on a seemingly familiar phrase.
Find an adage that you think can be turned "inside out" or "upside down"
and write a passage that utilizes it.
Freud's Couch ~
(1) During the scene,
Ginger shows up and innocently gives Sonny a hip bump. What do you
think about the innocence of such an action? What does it foretell
about the plot?
(2) We also see that
Dreama reacts very differently to males and females. Why do you think
this is so? What does it tell you about her personality or character?
(3) Cleo Mallett and
Elsie have distinctly different ways of looking at Dreama. What clues
does the author give us about why this is so? What other factors do
you think play into their differing opinions? What does the author
accomplish by giving us these very different viewpoints?
Mountaineer Morality ~
(1) In relation to Dreama,
the Coalwood women seem to have certain rules about what constitutes town
"citizenship". What are those rules? Why is it important in small
towns to have such rules? Do these sort of rules still exist in your
town or school?