Part I, Introduction & Chapter One: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Zora find special about Florida?

2. Why does Zora feel that “folklore is not as easy to collect as it sounds”?

3. With whom does Zora intend to stay while at Eatonville?

4. How does George Thomas react to the news that Zora wishes to collect “lies”?

5. Why does Zora want to report these stories, according to what she tells her friends in Eatonville?

6. Why does John mistake a bullfrog for the devil?

7. What does the word “bookooing” mean, and from where does it come?

8. How does Wood Bridge lack “...Eatonville’s feeling of unity”?

9. From what is “coon-dick,” the local homemade liquor, made?

10. Why does Big Willie Sewell call chicken “gospel-bird”?

1. According to Zora, “my big reason [is] that Florida is a place that draws people—white people from all over the world, and Negroes from every Southern state surely and some from the North and West.” Because of this Zora “knew it was get a cross section of the Negro South in one state.”

2. Since she is collecting these stories from firsthand accounts, she has to overcome any suspicions that people might have. She herself remarks that “the best source is where there are the least outside influences and these people, being usually underpriviliged, are the shyest.”

3. Zora intended to stay with her childhood friend, Armetta Jones, who lived in Eatonville with her husband Ellis.

4. George says, “Zora, don’t you come here and tell the biggest lie first thing.”

5. She wants to write it down “before everybody forgets all of ‘em.”

6. John mistakes a bullfrog for the devil because it has huge eyes, moves without walking, and has almost no tail.

7. The word means “loud talking,” and is derived from the French word beaucoup, meaning “many.”

8. Not only does Wood Bridge lack a schoolhouse, post office, and mayor, “in fact, a white woman lives there.”

9. The principal ingredients of “coon-dick” are grapefruit juice, cornmeal mash, and beef bones.

10. According to Zora, preachers are especially fond of chicken.

Part I, Chapter 2: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is “coon-can”?

2. Why does the bell ring at Macedonia, the Baptist church?

3. Why does Zora think there should be only one church in Eatonville?

4. What does God yell at the colored people, and what do they hear?

5. Where is Zar, according to Ellis, and what does it mean?

6. Why does George Thomas make fun of Gene?

7. Why can’t God make woman stronger than man?

8. Where does Jack want to go with Zora?

9. What past conflict has made Shug and Bennie Lee enemies?

10. What does Shug mean when she tells Bennie Lee that he is “full of monkies”?

1. “Coon-can” is “a two-handed card game popular among Southern Negroes.”

2. There is a prayer meeting that night.

3. Zora believes that having two churches in Eatonville makes no sense since so few people go to either one.

4. God yells at them, “Git back!”, but they hear, “Git black!” which is why they are the color they are.

5. Zar is “de other side of far,” or far away.

6. George thinks Gene is silly for trying to win a “talkin’ game” with a woman since “her tongue is all de weapon a woman got.”

7. Man asked God to give man more strength than woman, so “no matter how much Ah give [woman], he’ll have mo’.”

8. Jack wants Zora to drive up to Montgomery so they can buy watermelon.

9. Bennie Lee and Shug fought over the inheritance of the property left by Shug’s mother and Bennie Lee’s father, who had been married.

10. Bennie Lee is so drunk now that Shug guesses he is seeing things.

Part I, Chapter Three: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Describe the “quick tricks” of the three men courting the girl.

2. How fast is the horse owned by Henry’s father?

3. What does Charlie Jones mean when he says “let de dollars hush whilst the nickels speak”?

4. Why does Julius spit into the yard?

5. What skill does John have which nobody knew about?

6. Why does Massa kill John’s grandmother?

7. What is inside the bag that Massa throws into the river?

8. Why does Jack decide to bet his life against the Devil?

9. What did the Devil lose in the well?

10. What are the names of the Devil’s two horses?

1. The first man runs ten miles to collect some water from the spring. As he runs back, he notices that the bottom fell out of the bucket, but he runs back, catches the water before it hits the ground, and fixes the bucket before the water spills. The second man clears ten acres of woods, pulls up the roots of the trees, plants peas, and harvests them in time for dinner. The third man fires his rifle at a deer, then runs over and holds the deer in place so that the bullet may hit it.

2. According to Henry Byrd, his father’s horse was so fast that it was able to beat a telegram sent to his sister in St. Petersburg.

3. He sees that young Julius Henry wants to tell a story and makes a joke about his age.

4. Julius spits in order to emulate the men in Eatonville who spit tobacco juice.

5. John was a fortune-teller.

6. John was using Massa’s buggy to drive his grandma into town.

7. Massa throws a bag containing a soft-shell turtle and two bricks into the river because he believes them to be John.

8. Jack could outfight and outshoot anyone in the world, and he does not realize that his opponent is the Devil in disguise; he figures that there is no way a man could take his life, even if he did lose the game.

9. The Devil lost his wife’s ring in the well.

10. One horse is called Hallowed-be-thy-name, the other is called Thy-kingdom-come.

Part I, Chapter Four: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Babe Hill’s history in Polk County?

2. What do the townspeople believe Zora to be, according to Cliffert Ulmer, and why?

3. What two groups are at the party?

4. How much does the dress that Zora wears to the party cost, and why does she curse herself for buying it?

5. How does she explain having such an expensive dress?

6. What happened at the swamp two weeks ago that illustrated the danger there?

7. How does Joe know that the straw-boss cannot be sick?

8. Who are “de buckra,” and what does this mean?

9. Why won’t there be any logging that day?

10. What causes Jim to believe that something terrible has happened?

1. Babe Hill killed her husband during the Christmas season in 1926 and fled to Tampa. She was tracked down, caught, and spent a few months in jail before being allowed to return home.

2. Cliffert says that the people think Zora is either “a revenue officer, or a detective of some kind” trying to track down one of the many “fugitives from justice” in Polk County. Zora notes that “they were accustomed to strange women dropping into the quarters, but not in shiny gray Chevrolets.”

3. There are the dancers and the “woofers.” The woofers are those who are just sitting around and talking.

4. The dress cost $12.74, and Zora is angry with herself because there were so many cheaper dresses at Macy’s, and she should have known that an expensive dress would have exposed her as a stranger.

5. Zora says that this was the last present given to her by her old boyfriend, and she doesn’t have anything else like it.

6. The watchman who sleeps in the swamp was killed by a panther.

7. Joe claims that the straw-boss is far too ugly to be sick, and “if a spell of sickness ever tried to slip up on him, he’d skeer it into a three weeks’ spasm.”

8. According to the glossary, “buckra” is a West African term for white people.

9. The train used for logging was sent down to the Everglades in order to pick up a group of track workers and their equipment.

10. The straw-boss is already a half-hour late. As one of the workers says, “Must be something terrible when white folks get slow about putting us to work.”

Part I, Chapter Five: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is one slave beaten for cussing Old Massa while another slave is not?

2. What does Old Massa call his bed?

3. What does Old Massa bet against another plantation owner that John can tell fortunes?

4. What does Old Massa give John after John prays for God to kill Old Massa’s family?

5. What does the colored man use for a pocket watch when his is stolen by a white man?

6. How is Jack punished for escaping?

7. What do Old Massa and Jack believe about the two men dividing corn?

8. According to the folktales, what are the differences between the prayers of the white man and the black man?

9. What must John do before Old Massa will set him free?

10. What does Old Massa want John to remember as John leaves?

1. Only one slave cusses Old Massa to his face.

2. Old Massa calls his bed a “flowery-bed-of-ease.”

3. Old Massa bets his plantation and all of his slaves.

4. Old Massa gives John his freedom and “a heap of land and stock.”

5. He uses a turtle he found on the road.

6. Jack is given one hundred lashes on his back for escaping.

7. They believe that the two men are the Lord and the Devil dividing souls.

8. The white man asks for a little rain and not to “let these niggers be as sassy as they have been in the past.” The black man asks the Lord “to kill all de white folks.”

9. John must fill the barn with the yearly harvest.

10. Old Massa wants John to remember that John is “a nigger.”

Part I, Chapter Six: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is a “shake-baby”?

2. What does Babe Allen want the men to do?

3. What does Cliffert mean when he says to his grandmother, “You ain’t de Everglades Cypress Lumber Comp’ny...”?

4. What is a “log-rolling”?

5. What does Joe Willard mean when he says, “Niggers get all de signs and white folks got all de money”?

6. What does Arthur Hopkins do that makes Jim Allen so mad?

7. Why is Lonnie so upset with the woodpecker?

8. Why does the possum always act ashamed?

9. Why does the alligator hate the dog?

10. List all of the things that have happened to the alligator that have changed its appearance.

1. A “shake-baby” is an especially tight dress popular at the time.

2. Babe Allen wants Jim and Cliffert to clean and weed the yard.

3. Cliffert thinks that his grandmother doesn’t need to care so much about property she doesn’t even own.

4. A “log-rolling” is a party given when logs are brought in to build a new house.

5. He feels that black people are overly concerned with what is said in church when white people do not seem to pay as much attention to God as black people do, even though they have more money and freedom.

6. Arthur calls Jim by his first name which Jim feels is not respectful.

7. The woodpecker almost drowned everyone when he pecked away at Noah’s Ark, according to the folktale, so Lonnie is upset with the woodpecker for “tryin’ to drown me before Ah was born.”

8. The possum always acts ashamed because he lost all the hair on his tail.

9. Br’er Dog created the alligator’s mouth by cutting it open with a razor, but he didn’t stop when the alligator wanted him to, and went on cutting his mouth to the ends of his face. The alligator hates the dog because the dog had ruined the alligator’s appearance.

10. According to various folktales, the alligator has a wide mouth because Br’er Dog cut him with a razor and a flat tongue because Br’er Dog used it for a bass drum. He also has black skin and red eyes because Br’er Rabbit set him on fire.

Part I, Chapter Seven: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How did Br’er Rabbit ruin Br’er Dog’s voice?

2. Why do the rabbits decide to drown themselves, and what prevents them from doing it?

3. How far was the walk to the lake?

4. Why doesn’t John shoot the deer with Old Massa’s gun?

5. How “bad” is the gun of Larkins White?

6. Explain how gophers were created, according to the folktale.

7. How did butterflies get their name?

8. According to the superstition, killing a cat results in how many years of bad luck?

9. What does Jim Allen say that makes Big Sweet so upset?

10. What is special about the hog, according to Jim Allen?


(The entire section is 455 words.)

Part I, Chapter Eight: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. When does the story of John and the lion take place?

2. Explain the phrase: “Dat ole lion give John de book; de bookity book.”

3. Why should you choose your corn bread before your fish, according to Jim Allen?

4. How old is Dad Boykin?

5.Why do you need to “knock de breezes offen yo’ back” when you warm yourself?

6. Why should you put your feet right next to the fire when you warm yourself?

7. What does Larkins mean when he warns Big Sweet, “Don’t let de gator beat you to the pond”?

8. Why doesn’t Mrs. Allen have any fish?

9. What is another name for a traveling preacher?


(The entire section is 395 words.)

Part I, Chapter Nine: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why did Zora go to the party with Big Sweet rather than with Cliffert?

2. From what was the “low” wine at the party made?

3. Why do Office Richardson and Blue Baby get into an argument during the craps game?

4. What does Big Sweet mean when she says, “Gamblin’ wid yo’ stuff out de window?”

5. What is a “looky-dere,” according to Big Sweet?

6. Why is Lucy mad at Zora?

7. Why does the Quarters-Boss kick Ella out while letting Big Sweet stay?

8. Why was Box-Car on a chain gang?

9. What does Zora mean when she says, “Lucy tried to steal me?”

10. Why does the Devil give up during...

(The entire section is 378 words.)

Part I, Chapter Ten: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How long does the Lord chase the porpoise before it is finally caught?

2. How did Big Sixteen get his name?

3. Why isn’t Big Sixteen allowed in heaven?

4. Explain the tradition of shouting “Christmas gift!” to passersby.

5. Who is Raw Head?

6. Name the different ways you can get rid of a “squinch owl.”

7. Why doesn’t Big Sweet give Zora a knife to defend herself?

8. What does Big Sweet warn Zora about before she lets her go to the party?

9. Why isn’t Big Sweet afraid to die?

10. Why does Big Sweet refuse to dance with Joe Willard?

1. The Lord...

(The entire section is 371 words.)

Part II, Chapter One: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Zora decide to stop collecting folklore?

2. How many people study hoodoo in America?

3. When was Man created by God?

4. What does Man know about God?

5. What is a “Big John de Conqueror?”

6. How does Mrs. White protect herself from spells?

7. How can Rachel Silas get rid of her adversary?

8. Why do the women send Zora to see Eulalia?

9. Why can’t Eulalia’s client marry Jerry Moore without the hoodoo doctor’s help?

10. Why does Eulalia refuse money from her client?

1. There was only so much money for her project, and she still had not collected...

(The entire section is 254 words.)

Part II, Chapter Two: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Zora find out about Marie Leveau before she meets Luke Turner?

2. Why did white people believe that Marie Leveau performed a “hoodoo dance”?

3. When is the Eve of St. John’s?

4. During Marie Leveau’s curse, what does she command each of the winds to do to her enemy?

5. How many “psychic experiences” does Zora have during her 69 hours of fasting?

6. What symbol do Luke Turner and his hoodoo brothers paint on Zora’s body?

7. What does Zora eat from the feast first?

8. What should Zora do if she does not know the words of the chant?

9. Why does Turner make his client wait until twelve...

(The entire section is 344 words.)

Part II, Chapter Three: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How long is Zora with Pierre before he starts preparing her for her crown?

2. How long must Zora sit on the couch and read the third chapter of Job?

3. Why won’t Muttsy Ivins leave town?

4. How is the beef heart prepared in Pierre’s death ritual?

5. Why is a figure of Death placed on the altar?

6. How long are the cat and chicken left in the grave?

7. What must Pierre and Zora do every night at twelve o’clock during the death ritual?

8. How long must the black candles burn on the altar?

9. Where does Pierre sleep every night during the death ritual?

10. Describe the ritual that causes...

(The entire section is 388 words.)

Part II, Chapter Four: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the significance of Father Watson’s nickname “Frizzly Rooster”?

2. What does Mary want Zora to bring from Florida?

3. What is in the “break up” jar?

4. After Zora is initiated, what is her power?

5. What does Father Watson mean when he says, “That’s a low fence”?

6. How do you punish a person who is already indicted?

7. How would the sex of the victim affect the ritual that drives a person away?

8. What is the power of Black Cat Bone?

9. How is the circle “protected” in the black cat ritual?

10. What should Zora do every time the cat screams?


(The entire section is 347 words.)

Part II, Chapter Five: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How did Dr. Duke feel about snakes?

2. Why wasn’t Zora allowed to gather graveyard dirt when she went with Dr. Duke?

3. What must Beasley do for the ritual to work while he awaits trial?

4. Why did Dr. Duke use a different ritual each time to accomplish the same thing?

5. Describe Dr. Duke’s ritual for driving a person away.

6. When does the young matron meet her downfall after it is predicted by Dr. Jenkins?

7. What is “goofer dust”?

8. Why are church members buried facing east, while sinners are buried in the opposite direction?

9. What does it mean when it rains at a funeral?


(The entire section is 458 words.)

Part II, Chapter Six: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Celestine ask her neighbor for some change?

2. What does Mrs. Grant throw against her own door to remove the spell placed there?

3. Of what is the wealthy Middle Georgia landowner proud?

4. What is being served the night the landowner kills his servant girl?

5. Why does the family of the killed girl move away?

6. What is the landowner’s daughter’s name?

7. How will the hoodoo woman know who placed the curse on Levi Conway?

8. What does Pere Voltaire ask for at Levi’s house?

9. What do Pierre Landeau, his brother, and his cousin find underneath Pere Voltaire’s boat?

10. Why do...

(The entire section is 307 words.)

Part II, Chapter Seven: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. When is a hoodoo dance performed?

2. Why does Rachael Roe want John Doe dead?

3. How much does the hoodoo dance cost?

4. How many participants are in the hoodoo dance, and how long must each dance?

5. How long after a hoodoo dance can the victim live?

6. How is the hoodoo dance undone?

7. Why does Zora believe that John Doe will leave Rachael?

8. Describe the different rituals that Minnie Foster wants performed.

9. How must Minnie extinguish a candle in these rituals?

10. What must Minnie chant during each of her rituals?

1. The hoodoo dance is performed only in...

(The entire section is 339 words.)