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Part 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Violet referred to as the “Bird Lady”?

2. Why does the narrator describe Joe and Dorcas’ relationship as “one of those deep down, spooky loves”?

3. Why does Dorcas’ aunt Alice refuse to turn Joe over to the police?

4. Compare and contrast Violet with Dorcas.

5. How does Violet respond to the shooting?

6. What are Joe’s feelings about shooting Dorcas?

7. What is Violet’s plan?

8. Describe the atmosphere in Joe and Violet’s apartment.

9. Both Joe and Violet are in the beauty business. Explain.

10. Describe some of the things Harlemites are proud of in their community.

Answers
1. Violet is called the “Bird Lady” because she keeps a parrot and lots of other birds in her apartment. She communicates with the birds and her parrot says “I love you.”

2. Joe and Dorcas’ relationship is labeled “spooky” because it was unusual and unnatural. There was more than a 30 year difference in their ages. After Joe shot Dorcas he cried everyday about it and was unable to resume a normal life. To protect him, Dorcas refused to name Joe as the person who shot her. After her death, the love continued and became more intense.

3. Alice Manfred doesn’t want the police involved because the police have traditionally been an enemy of the African-American community. The police are considered as dangerous as the criminals. She doesn’t want them in her house sitting in her chairs. Furthermore, she has heard of Joe’s tears and knows that he will punish himself.

4. Violet is attractive but very dark-skinned. She is 50 years old, has hard edges to her personality, and is starting to act crazy. Violet no longer talks to Joe because she has time only for her birds. Violet is very thin, yet very strong, and Dorcas on the other hand is very light-skinned with long hair. These are two pluses. She is not particularly attractive, but she is 18-years-old. Dorcas is feeling the full impact of her sexuality and is eager for intimacy. It is easy for Dorcas and Joe to share their deepest secrets. Violet is independant, but Dorcas is extremely vulnerable and needs Joe’s protection.

5. Violet responds to the shooting by totally losing her mind. She is angry and wants revenge so she tries to disfigure...

(The entire section is 580 words.)