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1. For the most part, Hunter's black characters speak standard English but they are also fluent in street dialect. Is this dialect difficult to understand? Has it changed since the 1960s? Make a list of examples of street dialect from the novel.

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2. Lou and her young friends strive to grasp the essence of "soul" and to express it through their music. Is black English an aspect of "soul"? Explain. How would you define "soul"?

3. At one point in the novel, Lou attends a meeting of Black Muslims. Consult an encyclopedia or other general reference work for background information on Black Muslims (also known as the Nation of Islam). Who were Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X? What role did these men play in the civil-rights movement of the 1960s? You may also want to consult some periodicals and report on the activities of the Black Muslims today, particularly in urban areas such as Washington, D.C., or Detroit.

4. Blind Eddie Bell identifies blind Lemon Jefferson and W. C. Handy as major figures in the history and development of the blues. Write a brief biographical sketch of these musicians, highlighting their achievements.

5. Realistic characters possess both good and bad personality traits. List some of the positive and negative traits that you see in Lou. Explain how they surface in the book.

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