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.

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...

(The entire section is 580 words.)

Part 2 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why did Violet have trouble sleeping at night?

2. Why does Joe try so hard to remember everything about Dorcas?

3. How will these memories help Joe?

4. What are some of the reasons that African-Americans came to the city?

5. Why does Joe want to have the affair in the first place?

6. Where does Dorcas want Joe to take her?

7. How does Malvonne feel about the lives of the people she works for?

8. Explain what Malvonne tries to do with the letters.

9. How did Joe and Violet meet?

10. Could the city compete with the beauty of the country?

1. Violet has trouble sleeping once the birds are set free. Little things she had to do for them at night like covering their cages, helped her settle down to sleep.

2. Joe sits around and thinks about Dorcas day and night. He tries to remember everything beginning with the time he first met her. This way her memory won’t fade and he can keep their love alive.

3. Remembering Dorcas and the intensity of his feelings for her will help him stay young. When he can’t remember exactly how he felt at the time, he will be old.

4. African-Americans came North to find work opportunities. Another important reason was their search for rights and dignity. The South was strictly segregated and regarded them as second-class citizens.


(The entire section is 419 words.)

Part 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What was the purpose of the protest march?

2. Alice Manfred made a good living. How did this affect her attitude about things?

3. How did Dorcas react to the tragedy surrounding her parents’ deaths?

4. In your opinion what long-lasting effect did her parents’ deaths have on Dorcas?

5. How did Alice and the Miller Sisters feel about the music?

6. Describe Dorcas’ personality as a child.

7. What happened to Neola Miller’s left hand and how did Dorcas react to the story?

8. To be funny, what did people change Violet’s name to?

9. How did Dorcas describe her life as a 17-year-old?

10. What did the city whisper to Dorcas and to anyone who would listen?

1. Dorcas and her aunt attended the protest parade in honor of her parents who were killed in two separate racial incidents. African-Americans responded solemnly and in silence against such acts of violence that were occurring in locations throughout the country.

2. Alice Manfred would be described as bourgeois. She had made it and could not understand why everyone hadn’t. She thought the average African-American was beneath her.

3. Dorcas’ reaction to her parents’ deaths was to become mute. For a long period of time she refused to speak.

4. Since she never really talked about her parents’ deaths, she...

(The entire section is 415 words.)

Part 4 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the major difference between the two Violets?

2. At the funeral, what was the job that the boy ushers had to do?

3. Why did Violet’s mother jump into the well?

4. Why didn’t Violet want to have children? Why didn’t Joe want to have them?

5. What are some of the sacrifices Violet made to be close to Joe?

6. What are some the tales people told about the big city?

7. What advice does Alice Manfred give to Violet?

8. Why didn’t Violet want to be like her mother?

9. Why did “That Violet” throw the parrot out?

10. At the end of this chapter, laughter seems to save the day. Explain.

1. The original Violet is unsure of herself and starting to lose her mind. The other Violet is mean and very clear about what she wants to do. The other Violet turned everything she looked at into a potential weapon. She pushed people and fought back when necessary.

2. The boys thought that they would be pallbearers and direct mourners to their seats. When Violet tried to attack the body, their job was to use every ounce of their strength to stop her.

3. Everyone was surprised when Violet’s mother committed suicide because the family’s living conditions were starting to improve. She didn’t end her life when her husband left her, or when the white men evicted her from her home...

(The entire section is 531 words.)

Part 5 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. The narrator feels that Joe should have gotten some advice concerning his affair with Dorcas. Why didn’t Joe confide in his friends?

2. Why did Joe give himself the last name Trace?

3. What is a Hunter’s Hunter?

4. Why does Violet begin to sleep with a doll?

5. On the outside Joe was 50 years old. What was he like on the inside?

6. Dorcas was like candy to Joe. What advice do our parents give us about candy?

7. What were some of the reasons for the race riots?

8. Why did Joe need Dorcas so badly?

9. What did ladies like about Joe?

10. What finally caused Joe to move to New York City?

1. Joe didn’t confide in his friends because he felt they would laugh at him and be of no help. He also felt that he couldn’t talk to anyone but Dorcas.

2. Joe named himself Trace because his parents disappeared without a trace.

3. Hunter’s Hunter is a name of honor given to a woodsman with exceptional hunting, fishing, and tracking skills.

4. Although Violet said she didn’t want children, reaching age 40 she starts to experience baby hunger. Sleeping with a doll satisfies this desire.

5. Although Joe was a middle-aged man, he felt like a 16-year-old inside. He was young at heart.

6. Parents always warn their children not to eat too much candy. Excess candy can ruin the teeth and cause a stomachache.

7. In the North, African-Americans and whites fought each other in the street over jobs, housing, and social indignities.

8. Joe was a 50-year-old man who felt that life was passing him by. At this point in their marriage, he and Violet rarely talked and he felt he needed to be actively loved again. Dorcas was the solution.

9. Ladies liked Joe because he was handsome, he was a gentleman, and he had a gentle, country way of speaking.

10. Joe felt it was time to move to the city once Booker T. Washington was invited to the White House.

Part 6 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Describe what Violet’s life was like at age 12.

2. Why do you think Violet’s neighbors were so generous in their help to her family?

3. Why did Violet’s father leave the family?

4. What was True Belle’s reaction to Golden Gray’s beauty?

5. Why was Golden Gray referred to as an orphan?

6. What would Vera Louise have done with the child if he did not look so blond?

7. Describe the environment in which Golden Gray was raised?

8. Describe Colonel Gray’s reaction and Mrs. Gray’s reaction to Vera Louise’s pregnancy.

9. True Belle was a slave and had little choice about going to Baltimore with her mistress. Discuss the family True Belle left behind.

10. How much pay did True Belle get for 22 years of work?

1. At age 12, after her father deserted his family, Violet lived in poverty with her mother and four brothers and sisters. They were evicted from their home and they were often hungry.

2. The neighbors were so helpful because they understood that the same thing could happen to them. They were just a bit luckier so they shared whatever they had.

3. Violet’s father gave up and left. He was tired of the work, the hunger, and that he couldn’t do anything about it.

4. As a baby, Golden Gray was so beautiful that every time True Belle looked at him she...

(The entire section is 418 words.)

Part 7 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What rule of woodsman etiquette did Golden Gray break?

2. How did Wild’s presence disturb the thoughts of everyone in the community?

3. What is the range of emotions Joe feels about his mother?

4. Describe Wild.

5. Finally Joe curses his mother. What are some of his feelings about the situation?

6. Why did Joe work so hard?

7. Describe Golden Gray’s conversation with his father.

8. How was their meeting different from what Golden Gray had planned?

9. What is Golden Gray’s reaction when Wild opens her eyes?

10. Why does Joe decide to track Dorcas?


(The entire section is 547 words.)

Part 8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Dorcas so happy at this point in her life?

2. Listening to Dorcas’ side of the story, do you agree that she doesn’t seem so bad after all? Why?

3. How would you describe Dorcas’ new boyfriend?

4. How does Acton control Dorcas?

5. What went wrong when Dorcas tried to break up with Joe?

6. How was what Joe found at the party different from what he expected?

7. What is the hostess’ reaction to the shooting? Acton’s reaction?

8. Why didn’t Dorcas go to the hospital?

9. Why doesn’t Dorcas tell on Joe?

10. What is the difference between Dorcas’ relationship with Joe and with...

(The entire section is 445 words.)

Part 9 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What did Dorcas always talk about?

2. Compare and contrast Dorcas and Felice.

3. Dorcas had trouble getting boyfriends. Why?

4. Why did Felice visit Joe and Violet?

5. Felice’s father had some very strong opinions. What were they?

6. Why does Felice admire Violet and Mrs. Manfred?

7. What did Felice mean when she said Dorcas pushed men?

8. Why didn’t Felice go to Dorcas’ funeral?

9. How does Violet describe Dorcas?

10. What comments does Felice make about Joe’s unusual eyes?

1. Dorcas always talked about how someone looked. She wanted to be involved with...

(The entire section is 446 words.)

Part 10 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What did the narrator think would happen?

2. What actually did happen?

3. Why did Joe cry so much?

4. When Joe was hunting Dorcas what was he really doing?

5. Why did Wild hide from everyone?

6. Why does Joe love the long distance eyes of the soap box speakers?

7. What were some of the good things about Joe’s new job?

8. Exactly how has Joe and Violet’s relationship improved?

9. What are some of the things Violet tries, to help the new bird get well?

10. Explain how life is easier for Joe and Violet.

1. The narrator thought that Violet would hurt or kill...

(The entire section is 330 words.)