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Chapter 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Milkman feel closer to President Franklin Roosevelt than to his father?

2. Why is Ruth jealous of death?

3. What does Ruth say to Macon that precipitates Macon smacking her in the jaw?

4. What word did Dr. Foster use to refer to the “Negroes” in the town? What was he most interested in when he delivered Milkman’s sisters?

5. How were Lena and Corinthians’ names chosen? Who else’s name was chosen by this method?

6. Why does Macon tell Milkman the story about his mother?

7. Does Milkman love his mother? Why or why not?

8. What horrible secret does Macon tell Milkman?

9. What does Macon’s story compel Milkman to remember?

10. What news is being broadcast over the radio when Milkman arrives at Tommy’s Barber Shop?

1. Milkman feels closer to the late FDR because FDR had polio and Milkman believes one of his legs is shorter than the other. Milkman’s father is too perfect for Milkman to be like him.

2. Ruth is jealous of death because when her father died, she felt he purposely chose death because it was “a more provocative companion” than she was. Ruth felt “personal failure” and “rejection.”

3. Ruth tells Macon, “I certainly am my daddy’s daughter.”

4. Dr. Foster called the “Negroes” in the town “cannibals,” and wanted to know if Milkman’s sisters’ skin color was light or dark.

5. Lena and Corinthians’ names were picked randomly from the Bible. Pilate, Reba, and Hagar’s names were also chosen from the Bible.

6. Macon wants Milkman to understand his actions and to explain why he hit Macon’s mother.

7. Milkman doesn’t love his mother because “she was too insubstantial, too shadowy for love.”

8. Macon tells Milkman that Ruth had some kind of sexual relationship with her father.

9. Macon’s story compels Milkman to remember that Ruth nursed Milkman when he was too old to be nursed.

10. The news broadcast at Tommy’s Barber Shop is that (Emmett) Till, a young “Negro,” was “stomped to death” in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman.