illustrated close-up of Kenny Watson with fire in the background behind him

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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What does Byron tell Joetta in order to make her stop whining about the amount of clothes she has to wear outside? Use the RACE strategy.

The RACE strategy helps you better write a response by using the acronym standing for Restate, Answer, Cite, Explain. In The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Byron convinces Joey to wear her many layers of hot clothes by telling her that she has Momma's thin Southern blood and is thus at risk of freezing to death without them.

Expert Answers

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RACE is a method for providing all the needed information in a short response.

The R stands for RESTATING the question. You'll need to do something like this:

In order to make Joey stop whining about the clothes she has to wear outside...

The A stands for ANSWERING the question completely.

This occurs in chapter 4 when Joey is complaining about their mother, who makes them put on so many layers of clothes that she is sweating underneath it all. It's also a feat to get all those clothes on and off again, and Joey needs help accomplishing the task.

Kenny understands Joey's frustration, but he knows that he's in charge of making sure Joey gets dressed the way Momma wants. So he complains to Byron, who tells Joey that if she doesn't layer up, she'll die.

Therefore, the next part of your response could look like this:

...Byron tells Joey that because half of her blood is thin, Southern blood like Momma's, she will freeze to death without the layers.

The C stands for CITING evidence from the text. You could use this quote:

And you know Momma ain't from Flint, she grew up in Alabama and that means half of y'all's blood is real thin, so Momma's worried that one morning it's gonna be cold enough to freeze you all.

Finally, the E stands for EXPLAINING the evidence. You could accomplish that with something along these lines:

Although Byron knows that Joey isn't at risk of dying, he scares her into thinking that without her hot layers of clothes, she will freeze to death because of her Southern roots. This also explains why people native to Flint aren't at risk. They have "thicker" blood and can handle the cold better. Joey starts crying but stops complaining about having to wear so many winter clothes.

I hope this helps you write your response. Good luck!

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