The Tamarack Tree: A Novel of the Siege of Vicksburg

by Patricia Clapp

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 331

1. Do you think the author accurately portrays how Southerners and Northerners viewed slavery? Is it a balanced account?

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2. Ben wishes that he were dead. Does this statement lead the reader to foretell Ben's death? Are there any other incidents that foretell his death?

3. "Sometimes waiting for something bad to happen is worse than the actuality," writes Rosemary in May 1862. What does she mean by this statement?

4. Near the end of the novel, Mary Byrd tells Rosemary, "I reckon maybe I've grown up a little." What is she talking about? How does this affect her relationship with Derek?

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5. Jeff tells Rosemary that "a man must be willing to protect what he thinks is right and try to change what he thinks is wrong" in order to explain his decision to fight for the Union. What would you be willing to "protect" or to "change" in your life or your community?

6. Why do you think the author chose an English girl rather than a Southern girl to tell the story of the siege of Vicksburg?

7. Rosemary and Mary Byrd interact differently with boys. Mary Byrd flirts and acts coyly. Rosemary is more straightforward. Which is the better method to relate to the opposite sex? Why do you think they act differently toward boys?

8. Prejudice is an element in the novel. Different characters have different prejudices. Can you identify these prejudices?

9. Choose an incident from the book you liked the best. Read this passage to the class and describe why you chose it.

10. This novel takes place from 1859 to 1863. Rosemary develops from a girl to a young woman through her experiences in Vicksburg. Choose another character who changes or grows as a person in this novel and discuss the character development.

11. "Since we came here, I have thought the South was beautiful, but now it's like seeing a perfect shining stone in the woods and picking it up to find ugly worms on the underside." What do you think Rosemary means by this statement?

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