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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 194

Conduct research to find out more about the trials of African Americans in the post-Civil War South. Do you think an African American stood a chance of getting a fair trial?

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Imagine that Tom had not died and that he and Polly were able to meet the next day. What conversation do you think would take place between the sheriff’s children?

What moral stance do you take on the sheriff’s actions throughout the story and throughout his life, specifically, on his treatment of his illegitimate son and his mother, his chasing away the mob, his final decision about how to help Tom?

Most of the sheriff’s actions are determined by his sense of duty. To which cause do you think he has the greater duty: to help Tom or to uphold his position? Do the sheriff’s past actions—those during his time as a slaveholder—demonstrate his sense of duty?

Reread the section on Point of View in the story. Do you think this point of view helps or hinders the telling of the story? Explain your answer.

Do you find Tom to be a believable character? Explain your answer.

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