Chris Crutcher is a family therapist and the award-winning author of numerous books for teenagers. Athletic Shorts is a book of short fictional stories that center around sports. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is the primary reason the narrator has negative feelings towards his parents?
Large mammals such as elephants and whales have long gestation periods in pregnancy compared to human beings (640 days and 400-500 days respectively compared to a human's 280 day period).
Robert Redford is an actor reputed for his attractiveness, which is what Angus is referencing. Redford is best known for his roles in The Natural and The Great Gatsby. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following lines best illustrates one of the story's emerging themes?
This is an allusion from the Gospel of the Christian Bible. In the passage, Jesus asks a possessed man who he is, and the demons answer, "My name is Legion: for we are many," indicating that the man is possessed by a plurality of spirits. Though used in a light-hearted way in this line, this expression is evidence of the many people that Angus feels disparage him.
Which of the following words most accurately describes the tone evoked through this metaphor?
Rarely does an author supply readers with such a clear declaration of theme.
Describe a possible theme emerging as illustrated by Alexander's conversation with Angus. Cite specific references in the text to support your answer.
Before you continue reading, consider for a moment what you anticipate to happen. Skim over the last few pages and consider how the author uses tone, allusions, and figures of speech to build suspense. How do you think this will conclude?
In this line Rick is insulting Angus by implying that
Watch the following Youtube clip of the song Angus and Melissa are dancing to. After watching the accompanying lyrics, consider how the message of the song parallels or diverges from the development of the characters in the following scene. (This annotation contains a video)
This passage most clearly suggests which of the following messages?
Consider how Angus's fighting prowess affects the plot's development. How would things have ended differently if he was not physically dominant? What does this suggest about violence?
Which of the following themes most clearly illustrates this highlighted passage?
Consider how the characters are going to develop in these reversed roles. How will the conflicts which arise out of this scenario lead toward thematic development?
Summarize the narrator's motivations (desires, wants, needs) throughout the story's opening.
Consider how the narrator's comparison of his father matches with the impression you glean from reading the first scenes in which the dad is actually present. Making these kinds of comparisons will help you determine the degree to which the narrator is reliable, which is particularly important in a piece with a first person POV.
Take note of the set-up of a new plotline here.
According to this passage, John
Consider how this new plotline may conflict with John's match against Butch Lednecky, and consider how John's competing desires (beating Lednecky and impressing his father/beating his father) develop his character.
Which of the following words best describe the tone evoked through this passage?
Knowing what we do about Cecil, consider whether this "playful slap" and its, perhaps, kinder implications are an attempt to distract John from the match.
This figurative expression implies that
Which of these two events is the climax, or the turning point at which the characters and their desires are moving toward a resolution from which they cannot return? Is it when John pins Cecil or when Cecil slaps John?
Discuss a theme which developed based on John's and Cecil's motivations in the first half of the story and the resolution of their conflicts. What message is implied through the story's plot arch?
Based on this passage, which of the following character motivations are under tension in this early part of the story?
Though "tall, beefy [men] with [waistlines] like an equator" are not automatically unathletic because of these attributes, the word "dearth" - which means "to lack" - clearly suggests that Elmer is elated by Petey's athleticism. This is not due to any similarity between their childhoods, but because Elmer enjoys some kind of vicarious pleasure in Petey's interest in sports.
Watch the following comic-strip for information about the allusion to Job (pronounced 'Joe-b') from the Christian Bible, which is a rich source of common allusions. After watching the clip, consider how the author is developing themes of tribulations and the effects of suffering. (This annotation contains a video)
To whom do Petey's loyalties lie?
Read this line again closely. What essential detail has the author revealed? Why is Petey so anxious about this match?
This is another way of saying "no mercy."
The author uses which of the following devices to amplify the surprise?
Consider whether the author is developing a theme concerning perception vs truth.
How does the author try to balance a sense of femininity and intimidation through Chris's characterization? Refer to details in the text to support your answer.
Which of the following terms is an accurate descriptor for Petey's character?
Consider how often proving others wrong or accomplishing something in spite of the odds is a motive for adolescent characters.
By manipulating the story's time and forwarding to the next scene, the author creates a sense of ___________.
Notice the shift in the narrator's tone here. The POV, though still in third person, has echoed the attitudes and personas of adolescents up to this point. In this passage, however, the tone parallels that of a sports announcer: more distant and less personal. Consider how this shift contributes to a different effect than the tone we've seen before.
How does this passage reflect a change in Petey's character?
This is possibly a difficult allusion to appreciate. Petey and Chris are performing a routine as if they're professional wrestlers - which would be more theatrical and less strategic than a true competitive match - and the reference to "Brent [sliding] into his role as if he works after midnights on weekends for Turner Broadcasting" emphasizes the flamboyant scene. Turner Broadcasting (Ted Turner's television broadcasting company) used to have the rights to air popular, successful wrestling programming primarily in the 1990s. (This annotation contains an image)
This passage suggests that because Lionel "can tell no story about [his] life without telling this one first" that the following information will be presented as flashback. The story of Lionel finally becoming a good friend may make up the main plot arch of "Goin' Fishin.'"
Which of the following themes is most fully reflected in the story's opening?
Consider the underlying meaning of Dad's injunction "to think." Lionel is thinking - quite creatively - but in a way that is incompatible with the values his Dad tries to teach.
This passage implies that Lionel is
Notice the development of motifs related to time: in some ways it's fleeting and in others it's permanent.
Lionel's use of the highlighted expression implies
Besides the obvious parallel between rage and rushing water, this simile emphasizes Neal's destructive effect on Lionel's life. The dam - his family and normalcy - orders his emotions. Each time Lionel encounters Neal, that sense of order, no matter how slight, is broken.
The connotation underneath this line is
Consider how this statement resonates with Lionel's declaration at the story's beginning that he had finally become a good friend. What do you anticipate will happen before the conclusion?
The author uses which of the following literary devices to emphasize the nature of the conflict between Lionel and Elaine?
Consider the breadth of motivations that complicate Lionel's story: rage at Neal, guilt about his inability to save his family, and now, perhaps, fear that if he forgives Neal and moves beyond his rage that he will have nothing left and metaphorically die himself.
Notice again the development of this idea that the universe (time, fate, etc.) plays a role in determining one's life and that things are not strictly decided by free will and a person's actions. This concept is called determinism. Determinism is the idea that all things are determined by something outside human will. If determinism is taken as a given in this story, should Neal be held accountable for killing Lionel's family?
Notice again the repetition of this key concept in the story.
What theme is the author developing through the resolution of the story's conflicts?
Based on the narrator's tone and the admission that others think he is weird, it is wise for the reader to question this narrator's reliability and to keep those questions in mind throughout the reading.
According to this passage, the narrator's father
Consider the irony to which the narrator seems oblivious (i.e. how he likes to "get things right," but willingly accepts his Dad's version of truth when he even realizes contradictions in some of Dad's claims). These kinds of incidents and behaviors are strong evidence for the conclusion that the narrator is unreliable.
Based on the narrator's confusion, description of his breakfast, and word choice, the reader can conclude that the narrator's attitude toward the breakfast episode is meant to be
Consider the narrator's behavior here and his father's advice. What is their prejudice based on? There's an old cliche that people "fear that which they don't understand," so it's reasonable to infer that the characters' opinions of other races is based on their fear, confusion, and insecurity. If this is the case, what should the reader feel toward the Telephone Man? Sympathy, pity, contempt, anger, etc.?
Which of the following choices best expresses the theme being developed in this passage?
Consider whether this event will give Telephone Man the motivation to develop his own opinions based on his experiences rather than adopt his father's racist views.
You can listen to the following clip to get a sense of the atmosphere established in this scene through the allusions to "Sweet Dreams." Consider how the setting affects the characters' interactions and your perceptions of them within the scene. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the author use the story's opening structure to create mystery and startle the reader?
From whom does the pressure to "do something" about Darren's diagnosis come? Does Darren seem like the kind of character that would expect that from someone else? Consider, then, why Louie feels as if this is expected of him.
In this context, "he saw me naked" means
Notice how the author is using italics to indicate a more developed flashback. Though the writer has referenced the characters' pasts in "told scenes," in this instance he is "showing" the past.
As evidenced by this flashback, Dakota plays the role of
Though brief, consider whether this exchange implies a potential theme: the danger in wanting others to be different for one's own comfort.
The highlighted statement relies on which of the following devices to make its greatest effect?
Notice how Louie continues to project motivations onto Darren and how often Louie's assumptions do not come to fruition.
Here is a concisely stated, clear declarative theme.
Which of the following events in Louie's life seems to suggest his answer regarding Carter's ultimatum?
Notice how Dakota intends to do the right thing even when he fails to understand the full scope of a situation.
Consider whom this is directed towards. Is it Darren, Louie, or possibly both?
Summarize the author's implied message as developed in this final scene with Darren.