Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 253
1. The novel mentions several black leaders from the past: Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Who are some other well-known leaders from the black community? Select one for a short research paper.
2. In his second narrative, Jimmy-Lee seems envious of the attention, especially extra favors, given to people who have been in drug detoxification or some other form of detention. He feels he should be rewarded for not being on drugs and for doing well in school. Should he, or is doing well its own reward? Do those who have reformed, or are trying to do so, get extra privileges? Is this just?
3. Mr. Cohen tells Benjie, "You can be somebody if you want to," and Benjie complains, "How does he know I'm not somebody right now?" Why do adults and young people see this issue differently?
4. Who are some of your heroes? What are their heroic qualities? On the next to the last page of the novel, Butler presents his own credentials for hero status. How do they compare with those of your heroes?
5. Benjie says that he wants someone special who believes in him. What does he really want? Does he know? Should anyone believe in him? Point out details from the book to support your argument.
6. The characters who speak throughout the novel often disagree with each other about the causes of, and solutions to, problems. How does Childress help you to make judgments about the believability of any character or statement?