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In this paragraph, the writer uses a lot of descriptive words and phrases. A careful reader can infer much about the setting of this story from this one paragraph. What season is it? Where, in general, do the narrator and his grandmother live?
The writer is using dialect when Boo Nanny talks. Dialect is the way people speak in a certain area. Using dialect helps characterize a person in a story because it reveals the geographic and social background of a character. Dialect involves the spelling, word choice, and pronunciation of language and it often distinguishes one group of people from others. Have you ever heard someone speak from Boston or Louisiana? What about someone from the Bahamas? Native speakers of those areas have a distinct dialect.
Can a buzzard's shadow really harm someone? What does this incident reveal about the narrator and Boo Nanny?
What the narrator is describing is called Spanish moss. It droops from large trees (especially oaks) in the South. (This annotation contains an image)
As the story is developing, we have more details that suggest the setting. Remember, setting is the time and place where a story is set. This story is set in Wilmington, North Carolina, which is right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. We know that the ladies wear long skirts and that mules, horses, and oxen are commonly on the roads. What time period does this suggest?
We have learned some important details from Moses, the narrator, about his daddy. This is a common method of developing a character--through the thoughts of another character. Watch this video on characterization and pay close attention to how the writer develops her characters as you read the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
A wharf is like a harbor where ships and boats dock to load and unload cargo. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best expresses what Boo Nanny says here?
What kinds of medicines does Boo Nanny use to cure sickness?
We understand from this paragraph how Boo Nanny gets her name. She loves to tell scary stories of ghosts, Jack-o-lanterns, and hags (witches). The wampus cat, below, is the subject of an old Southern legend. According to the legend, an Indian woman sneaks along behind the men of the tribe each night when they go hunting. Women are not allowed to hear the men's stories by the fire and so the woman hid behind a rock wrapped in the skin of a mountain lion. She was discovered and the medicine man of the tribe turned her into a monstrous, wild cat. (This annotation contains an image)
This is important information. We now know that Boo Nanny was a slave when she was growing up. Telling stories was one way for African American slaves to entertain themselves and create their own culture. African American folklore is an integral part of American folklore. Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit are two famous characters from African American folklore. (This annotation contains an image)
Boo Nanny doesn't want to talk about her past as a slave. She doesn't want to wake up her sorrows because they don't go back to sleep very easily. What type of figurative language is this?
Blackbeard, formerly Edward Teach, was an English pirate who sailed around and committed acts of piracy in the West Indies and the Southeastern American colonies. He has since become a legend. (This annotation contains an image)
At this time food was kept cold by large blocks of ice in the bottom of a food box. You could buy blocks of ice at an ice store. This is a picture of an ice box used around the 1890's. (This annotation contains an image)
How is Moses feeling here?
You may predict that Moses will begin to feel bad about what he has just done. In fiction this is called an "inner conflict." Watch the following video about conflicts in literature. (This annotation contains a video)
Jim Hawkins is the protagonist, or main character, of the classic novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story is about young Jim Hawkins who is swept away in an adventure with the famous pirate, Captain Long John Silver. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this incident reveal about Boo Nanny's character?
Which of the following is the best expression of what Boo Nanny means here?
Explain in your own words what Boo Nanny and Daddy are fighting about. Be sure to explain the different points each one is making.
See the picture of ice blocks and the tongs used to grasp them. (This annotation contains an image)
Moses builds a makeshift ice cooler for Boo Nanny and promises the ice man he will work for any extra ice for her. Daddy will save for a whole year to buy an organ for Mama. This is a family that loves one another and shows it.
This is clearly an example of racism. Explain why it is legal for the store owner to say this and have this policy?
Cape Fear is a 200 mile long river in North Carolina that empties into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a "blackwater" river which means the water is dark, like tea or coffee, because of the tannins that leak into the water from the vegetation that it flows through. (This annotation contains an image)
Smallpox is an infectious disease that has killed millions of people throughout history. The colonists brought it with them from Europe and it killed thousands of Native Americans and African Americans. Smallpox was finally wiped out and there hasn't been a reported case since 1977.
Here's a picture of Millie and Christine, the siamese twins who were born into slavery in North Carolina. (This annotation contains an image)
When you use the Define feature on this word, it doesn't provide the definition used here. Using context, which of the following words is another word for privy?
Moses's daddy was a member of a city council.
Explain why Boo Nanny does not want Moses to pretend to be a Confederate soldier.
In what year does this story take place?
The writer uses a great deal of figurative language in this novel. Figurative language is found in all types of writing. It helps readers understand things, events, and people in unique ways. It's important to be able to recognize the different types of figurative language. Watch this video for a review and see how many you already know. (This annotation contains a video)
Po-bocra is a slang word from the Carolina's meaning "white trash" or poor white people.
A picture of a salt marsh. (This annotation contains an image)
A sand dollar (This annotation contains an image)
Why would trouble be coming to Moses?
The Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, is a radical white hate group, who lash out against African Americans. They wear long white robes with hoods that hide their face. One of their trademarks was leaving a burning cross in the yard. (This annotation contains an image)
A possum pretends to be dead to ward off predators. This idiom means that someone is pretending.
One of the conflicts that faces the narrator is racism. Which of the following types of conflicts would this be?
This means that Grandpa Tip was once a
When the narrator of a story or novel is a character, we call it first-person point of view. In this novel, Moses is the narrator, so we know his thoughts and feelings. Watch the video for an explanation of the different types of point of view. (This annotation contains a video)
What do Moses and Tommy have in common?
Why do you think Tommy doesn't want to hold Moses's hand?
The writer uses a lot of dialect here to show that the characters are from the deep South. Dialect makes dialogue more realistic.
Moses is a good friend. List three things that he's done so far in this novel that show he's a good friend to Lewis and Tommy.
This sentence shows how badly Moses feels. What type of figurative language is used here?
Why does Ernie ask Moses to "...check his figures"?
Why did the farmer fire Moses?
Explain what Old Walt means when he says to Moses, "You gots to learn to humble down and lay shut mouth"?
What Moses is describing here are coquina shells, tiny clams that you can see on the beach in the wet sand. (This annotation contains an image)
Here's a picture of a "devil's purse." (This annotation contains an image)
Boo Nanny has a different kind of intelligence than Daddy. What word below best describes her area of knowledge?
Explain why you think Boo Nanny puts off learning to read?
The genre of this novel is historical fiction. As a reader we can learn a great deal about a period in history or a historical event while reading a fictional story. In most historical fiction novels the historical background is factual and true even though the "main" story of the novel is not. Watch this video for a more in depth discussion of the elements of historical fiction. (This annotation contains a video)
This is historically true. Although racism was deeply rooted in the South, the speech by Mrs. Felton and the editorial response by Mr. Manly, was the catalyst (the spark that started) the political trouble in Wilmington, 1898. A picture of the real Mrs. Felton is below. (This annotation contains an image)
Boo Nanny is referring to interracial marriages. Although these marriages are readily accepted today and quite common, they were not accepted back in 1898.
Boo Nanny is saying that lynching, or mob violence, will never make any sense.
The expression to "darken a door" means to visit or attend a certain place. Here it suggests that Daddy never goes to church.
What is the best explanation of what Boo Nanny is suggesting here?
From this incident you can infer that the owner of the building is a
In your own words explain how the owner of the store shows his prejudice against Moses.
What does the woman mean when she says, "I'm not sure what kinds of people are eligible"?
Do you have a prediction at what may happen?
This expression must mean a "hard rain." Explain why "toad floater" is a clever way to describe this.
Boo Nanny means that Daddy should value religion as much as he values
Who do you think the colonel is and how does he know Boo Nanny?
This is a lemon soda.
What is the " powerful shock" that Mama experiences today?
Use the Define feature on the word felled. Explain why it is used to explain what happened with Mama and Boo Nanny.
Did you know that most animals can sense bad weather coming?
This sentence suggests that the rain is as hard as a thrashing or whipping. What type of figurative language is this?
What does this mean?
Moses was set in a weed basket by his poor mother and put to float on the river. His mother was trying to save his life from the evil Pharoah's order to kill all baby boys under the age of two. She set him adrift on the Nile, hoping someone would find him later and take care of him. (This annotation contains an image)
In 1898 public transportation is segregated, meaning separate places for whites and African Americans.
What does Moses not realize until now?
Howard University is located in Washington D.C. (This annotation contains an image)
During this time, the Republican Party was viewed as the party of Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation party. Most African Americans and citizens who were for the Union Army belonged to this political party. The Democratic Party stood for white supremacy and supported the belief that only white men were fit for political office. Knowing this, it is easy to see why Daddy wanted to leave the rally as soon as possible.
These men are the Red Shirts, a military-like group who rode horseback, carried guns, and wore red shirts to create an intimidating, powerful image. This group was used to influence Southern whites to vote for the Democratic Party candidate. Often this group would ride into predominantly African American neighborhoods where their presence was threatening.
What does the expression "catch the 11:59" mean?
A picture of the Red Shirts. (This annotation contains an image)
This speaker is referring to the editorial written by Alex Manly, the owner of the newspaper Daddy works for. In it he writes to expose the double standard of interracial relationships. He argued that society accepts it when the man is white and the women is black, but not when the man is black and the woman is white. In the latter case, the black man is often accused of rape when the relationship is exposed.
Fusionism was the political practice that combined two political parties as one so as to beat the competing political party. The Populists agreed to split the political ticket with the Republican Party in order to defeat the Democratic Party. It worked, and the result were several political offices won by African Americans.
This means our "white brothers."
What Daddy is saying here probably has a lot to do with an important theme in this book. What do you think it is?
Read this paragraph again and think of the title of this novel. Explain in your own words why Crow is an effective title for this story.
What does this reveal about Boo Nanny?
This is a good quote to live by. Explain what it means in your own words.
Why do you think Daddy feels so strongly about the right to vote?
This is historically accurate. Several newspapers reprinted Manly's editorial every day. The Democratic Party was clearly using "fear" to influence white voters. They tried to scare people into believing that voting for the Democratic candidate is the same as protecting the honor of your wife and daughter.
Often when a writer shows that time has passed, he or she will describe the setting, like this paragraph about the weather in November. What type of figurative language does the writer use here to describe the trees?
A Gatling gun was a "rapid-fire" gun. Years later, it would evolve into a machine gun. (This annotation contains an image)
Who are the Gilchrists?
Explain what Boo Nanny is saying to Daddy here in your own words.
Persimmons grow naturally in the Southeastern United States. (This annotation contains an image)
After using the Define feature, choose the following word that is an antonym (opposite in meaning) of nemesis.
What is Moses practicing on?
Can you predict where Moses is thinking Mr. Manly could hide?
Using the Define feature, explain why stevedores would be around?
What does this mean they intend to do to Mr. Manly?
What do you call the distinct accent someone has who is from a particular region?
In 1898, The Democratic Party was composed of mostly white men.
What do you predict the Committee of Twenty-Five will want?
Why doesn't Mr. Williams return to the porch for his hat?
This expression means people who are born into wealth and a socially prominent family.
Using these words expresses what?
The actual White Declaration of Independence is pictured below. Shamefully, this document was actually drafted and signed. (This annotation contains an image)
When Salem Bell says this, he means that the white men really want the African American citizens to go back to what?
Explain why you think Moses believes less in Boo Nanny's superstitions now that he is getting older.
Why does the woman at the door ask Daddy to go around back?
How do you feel about Daddy saying this about the editorial his boss wrote? Do you think he is turning his back on a friend?
This means that Mr. Waddell expected Daddy to address him as Mr. Waddell, not by his first name Alfred. Even though both men are adults, Mr. Waddell feels he is superior to Daddy and therefore must be shown more respect.
What do you predict is happening?
Use the Define feature for the word fumigate. Once you understand the definition and recognize that the mob intends to burn down the Record newspaper building, explain what they mean by "Fumigate the city."
We know that Daddy is a good man. What is his most useful quality here?
To help create the image of a rapid, raging fire, the writer has used what type of figurative language here?
Fire engines certainly were not what they are today. Here's a picture of what the firemen were pulling by horses in 1898. (This annotation contains an image)
This is what a camera looked like in 1898. (This annotation contains an image)
List three things Mrs. Gilchrist says that are hurtful and show her racism.
Mr. Sprunt shows his decency by doing which of the following.
Riptides occur frequently along the North Carolina coast. It is good advice to swim with the strong current and get out of it gradually instead of trying to struggle against it. Moses uses the riptide as an analogy to being swept away by the crowd. Watch the video for a brief explanation of analogy. (This annotation contains a video)
Comparing the streets to a "cauldron" suggests that something evil is brewing. What type of figurative language do we call this type of comparison?
The ambulance men are only concerned about the one white man who was shot and not all of the injured and slain African Americans lying on the street.
Explain why Moses should not feel guilty.
Shamefully, prejudice and racism are taught to children by their parents or society.
You should realize that this is a very important part of the novel simply because it affected the protagonist so deeply. Certainly it helps develop the theme of racism and the damage and hurt it causes.
Watch this video presentation on The Wilmington Massacre. You will see the real faces of many of the historical characters in this book. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does the man tie the white shirt on the branch?
During 1898 there were white and black hospitals. Do you know which of the following words means having different facilities?
Why does Moses name the young girl Hope Thomas?
Men often wore these as pajamas or underneath their clothes since no one had electric or gas heat. (This annotation contains an image)
Explain why you think this young Red Shirt has this reaction.
Daddy is referring to an organized hate group that wears white robes. What is it?
This is a trait of Daddy that you haven't read about up until now. What is it?
This is an ideal way of expressing the theme, or lesson, of this novel. One of the reasons we read about our history is to learn from it.
When something is the opposite of what you expect, or of what makes sense, it's called ironic. Recall the wording of the White Declaration of Independence: "Believing that the Constitution of the United States contemplated a government to be carried on by an enlightened people; Believing that its framers did not anticipate the enfranchisement of an ignorant population of African origin..." So what Moses realizes is true: Ordering the educated African Americans from their city is exactly the opposite of what they stated in this racist document.
When Moses sees his daddy walking "...so slumped, I almost didn't recognize him," it shows that Daddy is feeling
What's the best reason for why Daddy looks different now?
In fiction the plot, or sequence of story events, typically follows a pattern. Daddy getting shot must surely be the most intense, emotional turning point in this story. We call this the Climax. Watch the video for a review of all parts of Plot. (This annotation contains a video)
This means that Moses realizes that those who left things at Daddy's grave put a lot of thought into what to leave him. It is not the value of the items that is important, but the thoughts and feeling they represent. They are signs of respect.
This expression means the sale of goods at extremely cheap prices. So Lewis's father does not get much in exchange for the sale of his property and business.
Even though they often disagreed, and spoke quite differently, Boo Nanny and Daddy had a lot in common. In your own words, explain how what Boo Nanny says here sounds like something Daddy would say.
Moses sounds a lot like who?
Moses sees this as a sign. The word to describe it, cacophony, reminds him of the high ideals of his father.
Look carefully at the last sentence of this novel, paying particular attention to word choice. Considering the central theme, the equality of all races, explain how it symbolizes hope for the future.
This ending is symbolic and reinforces the theme of this novel. Tommy and Moses find common ground again and lay the past aside. They are friends.