Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Presents a collection of eight short stories that touch on the subject of race and race relations.
The curriculet is being added to your library
This epigraph comes from "Roots," a novel centered on the genealogy of Kunta Kinte, a fictional African-American slave. What predictions can you make about the themes or the characters which might be present in this novel based on the fact that Packer chose this quotation as her epigraph? (This annotation contains an image)
"Brownie" is a level of Girl Scouts which typically consists of girls aged 7 or 8. What can you infer about these particular girls from their reactions to Troop 909? (This annotation contains an image)
From the context of these examples, what do the girls intend the word "Caucasian" to be?
Which of the following themes is explored in both the narrator's fascination with Daphne's poem and Arnetta's claim that Troop 909 used a racial slur?
"The n word" is a racially-charged insult; its use is widely considered extremely hurtful and inappropriate. Is there any evidence to support Arnetta's claim that Troop 909 used this word?
This line contains an example of a simile; click the video below for a definition of this term. How would you characterize a bird with a broken wing? Might this quality also apply to the girl? (This annotation contains a video)
Compared to Arnetta and Octavia, the narrator of this story is more
Which words best describe how Daphne is characterized in this paragraph?
All Girl Scouts learn traditional songs to sing at meetings, such as this one. Click below to hear the tune of how it is sung. Do these troop leaders sing the song the way Snot would, or the way the rest of the troop does? (This annotation contains a video)
Notice that "dealing with whites" is a part of the list of unfortunate things these girls have been taught to expect in their adulthood. What does this reveal about the world they are growing up in?
Which of the following is the best statement of the Brownie Troop's motivation for picking a fight with Troop 909?
Though it was used until much more recently, "the r word" is now considered to be similarly as offensive as "the n word." What similarities are you noticing between the two Brownie troops?
Which of the following statements accurately describes a similarity between the two Brownie troops?
An epiphany is a moment of realization. In literature, characters often have epiphanies which change their overall understanding of the world and how it operates. Keep an eye out for other characters in this short story collection having epiphanies; their similarities will reveal the book's overall themes.
Which of the following lines best encapsulates the theme of this short story?
Every Tongue Shall Confess
Because this is a short story collection, there is a different narrator and set of characters in each chapter. Despite these differences, however, thematic links exist between the stories. Keep an eye out for similarities from story to story.
Sister Clareese sees religion as all of the following except
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?
Use the "define" tool to look up the definition of edifying. The best synonym for edifying as it is used in this context is
Look at the painting below. In what way is the scene described in the church in this story similar to this painting? In what way are they different? (This annotation contains an image)
In your opinion, does Sister Clareese care about her patients as much as she claims? Support your answer with evidence from the text.
What is Sister Clareese's main problem with her church?
Notice that the author makes the choice to capitalize words in the middle of sentences in this short story. What do the capitalized words have in common? What does the capitalization add to Sister Clareese's character?
What thematic similarities do you notice between this story and the previous one, "Brownies"?
The title of this story is "Every Tongue Shall Confess." Why do you think the author chose this title?
Our Lady of Peace
Jesse Jackson is a prominent African-American politician and Civil Rights activist. Jackson's opinion is often sought as an expert on national issues pertaining to race. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Lynnea's primary motivation for pursuing a career in teaching?
Use the "define" tool to look up miscreants. Based on the context, which is the best synonym for miscreant?
Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is the story of Janie Crawford, an African-American woman living in Florida in the 1930s. Considered an American classic, the story follows Janie as she grows up and follows her dream to become fulfilled and happy. Thematically, why might ZZ Packer have chosen to have these students study this novel? (This annotation contains an image)
How do the students in the Baltimore Public School System advertisements differ from the real ones in Lynnea's classes? What might a more accurate advertisement look like?
The advertisements for the Baltimore Public School System may look something like this. Use the image below to answer the following question. (This annotation contains an image)
The video below is a brief clip from "Freedom Writers," a movie based on the real life experiences of an English teacher named Erin Gruwell in a high school in California. Watch the clip, and use it to answer the next question. (This annotation contains a video)
Compare and contrast Lynnea's classroom to the one depicted in the clip from Freedom Writers.
Why does Lynnea tell Sheba to get out, even though she does not actually want her to leave?
Our Lady of Peace is a home for girls- a euphemism for a shelter for teenage and young women who are in need of a place to stay and do not have a safe or secure family environment to provide one. The name of this shelter is the title of this story. What is the irony of this title?
What does this metaphor reveal about how Lynnea is currently feeling?
Lynnea is clearly not thinking rationally in these lines. Why do you think she steps on the accelerator?
Stories 1-3 Quiz
The Ant of the Self
In its early days, the Black Panther Party was a black nationalist movement founded in order to give African-American men a platform to seek out their rights and protect themselves from police brutality. Eventually, the movement became associated with anger and violence, particularly toward white law enforcement agents. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on their interactions with one another, which word best describes the relationship between the narrator and Ray Bivens Jr.?
The phrase "my cross to bear" is an allusion to Jesus carrying his cross to his own crucifixion in the Bible. What does this allusion indicate about Spurgeon's feelings about his father?
Which of the following statements is the most accurate description of Spurgeon and Ray's motivations for attending the March?
The Million Man March was a one time event held in Washington, DC in October 1995. Organized by several civil rights organizations along with the Nation of Islam, the March sought to challenge the public image of the African-American male as dangerous, violent, or unemployable. (This annotation contains an image)
This exchange between Spurgeon and Ray indicates that Ray might be more proud of his son if Spurgeon were more
Ray's story mixes a little bit of fact into his fiction: the people of ancient Mesopotamia did have wheels and did not have glass. But while they may have cut holes in their walls, this is not the true origin of the term "window." What do Ray's stories show us about his personality?
Use the "define" tool to look up the definition of phalanx. Which of the provided definitions is being used in the context of this sentence?
Louis Farrakhan is the leader of the Nation of Islam and the chief organizer of the Million Man March. A controversial figure, Farrakhan is sometimes accused of going beyond promoting African-American rights to a point where he is preaching anti-white ideologies. (This annotation contains an image)
"The Ant of the Self"- the title of this piece- is a metaphor which is explained in these lines. Explain how this metaphor pertains to the story of Spurgeon and Ray.
What does the man with the goiter "mean to say" in this exchange?
What does Ray want for his relationship with his son?
Why does Spurgeon say this to his father, even though he admits that he is actually proud of him for not going to Vietnam?
Huey P. Newton was the co-founder of the Black Panther Party. Why do you think Spurgeon includes this in his rant? (This annotation contains an image)
It's almost a two hour drive between Cincinnati and Louisville. (This annotation has embedded rich content)
Compare and contrast the two father and son pairs in this story. Why does Spurgeon want to weep while he watches the father and son in the train station?
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Based on her thoughts about the orientation games, which of the following pairs of words best describes the narrator of this piece?
Yale University is one of the most prestigious Ivy League colleges in the United States. Founded in 1701, Yale is located in New Haven, Connecticut. (This annotation contains an image)
The full text of the poem referenced here, "Autobiographia Literaria," can be found by clicking the link below. Read the poem, and keep it in mind for the next question. (This annotation contains a link)
In what way does the text of "Autobiographia Literaria" relate to the character of Dina? Which parts of the poem seem to apply to what we have seen of her so far?
Which literary device does Heidi use in these lines, and for what purpose?
According to Ancient Greek legend, Achilles was dipped into the River Styx by his mother shortly after his birth. His mother was attempting to make him immortal; however, his heel remained vulnerable to attack due to the fact that she did not dip this part into the river. Years later, this would prove to be his undoing in the Trojan War, described in the Iliad. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice how quickly Dina's tone shifts when Dr. Raeburn asks her this question. Why do you think she gets so defensive?
Why doesn't Dina allow the boy to help her?
The Whiffenpoofs is the name of Yale's all-male a cappella group- the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the United States. Watch the video below to hear the 2010 Whiffenpoofs sing "Just Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble. (This annotation contains a video)
This moment in the kitchen represents a turning point for
According to psychology, denial is a defense mechanism in which a person insists that an uncomfortable fact or situation is not real or true, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Do you agree that Dina suffers from denial? Does she suffer from this in all areas of her life, or just a few selective situations? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following statements most accurately describes Dina and Dr. Raeburn's views of Dina's coping mechanisms?
Think back to the epigraph of this book, which implies that the book will give a voice to people who "didn't win." In what sense is that true for Dina?
Explain how the title "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere" applies to this passage.
Speaking in Tongues
This story uses a different point of view from all of the ones preceding it. Watch the video below for a definition of point of view. Which type of point of view does this story employ? (This annotation contains a video)
Tia and Marcelle treat their Sunday School lessons
Think back to the portrayal of formal religion in "Every Tongue Shall Confess." Is the portrayal in this story similar or different? How?
Which of the following events seems to have had the most impact on Tia's decision to insist on living with her mother?
As a result of the Jim Crow laws, public transportation centers, such as the one Tia is waiting in, would have been forcibly segregated with signs like the ones below. What is the irony of Tia's realization about the station today? (This annotation contains an image)
Tia expects to feel God in the same dramatic way her peers do. What literary device is contained in these lines?
Compare and contrast Sandburg's description of Chicago with Tia's description of Atlanta.
The personification in this paragraph is reminiscent of Carl Sandburg's "Chicago," found at the link below. Read the poem, and use it to answer the next question. (This annotation contains a link)
The "smothering kind of love" described in this line can also apply to the love
The woman driving the car is apparently a Bob Marley fan. Click below to hear the song referenced here. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Tia deny she is a church girl?
Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, has controversially interpreted the line in the Bible which states that man is made in the image of God to mean that black men "have been made into a god." The line Dezi cites here is often associated with the teachings of the Nation of Islam, though it is a simplification of Farrakhan's teachings. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice the line about Tia's Aunt Roberta in this section. Why does Tia think of her here? What does this line reveal about Tia's thoughts about her aunt and her religion?
In Atlanta, Tia feels
Notice how Dezi changes his mind and gives the children money as soon as Gerard says this. Watch the video below for a definition of foreshadowing, and keep this line in mind as you continue to read. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Dezi's presence make Tia feel?
The movie described here seems to be "Home Alone." Click below to watch the trailer for this film. (This annotation contains a video)
Compared to Tia, Marie is more
Look back a few pages at the description of Tia seeing the prostitutes for the first time. What subtle piece of foreshadowing can you find which suggested that Dezi might be a pimp?
Why does the author include this flashback at this point in the story?
Why do you think Tia wants to see Marie?
Tia sees Marie as a(n)
How has Tia changed and developed from who she was at the beginning of the story? Why has she changed?
Click below for a description of flashbacks as a literary device. What effect do the flashbacks and references to Tia's old life have on your understanding of her character? (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Tia finally ready to go home?
The simile in this line compares Tia's action to a(n)
The title of this story, "Speaking in Tongues," comes up at the beginning of the story. However, a lot happens in the story after the reference. Why do you think Packer chose this as the title?
When Marie says this line, she means it
Stories 4-6 Quiz
This is the second story in this volume to contain a character named Dina. Keep an eye out for evidence which suggests that the two Dina's are the same character.
What does this statement imply about Dina's home in Baltimore?
In the 1990s, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Moldova officially became an independent country. It is located in Eastern Europe, near Ukraine. (This annotation contains an image)
Ari compares the living situation to a fist with five fingers. This is an example of
For approximately a month in 1956, what began as a student protest blossomed into a full-scale revolution against the government in Hungary. Imre Nagy was one of the leaders of the revolution. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Petra, Zoltan, and Dina talk more about the food from home than they do about their lives? What does this suggest about their pasts?
After being in Japan for several months, how does Dina view her home in Baltimore?
Known for its active nightlife, Roppongi is the section of Tokyo where many foreign embassies are located. (This annotation contains an image)
Why are there such elaborate descriptions of food in this story? Besides satiating their hunger, what does food represent to these characters?
Why is Zoltan weeping?
What important realization or epiphany has Dina arrived at? Why does she feel this way?
During World War II, Japanese kamikaze pilots would fly planes laden with explosives into enemy warships in order to destroy them. In the process, the pilot would be killed; thus, "kamikaze" has become synonymous with the concept of suicide. (This annotation contains an image)
Doris Is Coming
As a part of the Civil Rights Movement, many African-Americans participated in sit-ins - peaceful protests in which they simply sat in places where they were legally prohibited to be, such as the counter of a diner. At times, white people fought back against these sit-ins by pouring condiments and other food onto the sit-in participants. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following statements can you infer is most in line with Doris' thoughts about the Civil Rights Movement?
"The Rapture" refers to an event, acknowledged in many Christian religions, in which Jesus Christ will return to Earth and bring all believers instantly to Heaven with him.. The only people left behind on Earth will be the sinners, who will be forced to suffer eternally for their sins. (This annotation contains an image)
While around Olivia Berman, Doris' mother is
Use the "define" feature to look up sanatorium. Which of the following people would most likely be in a sanatorium?
The Albany Movement was a desegregation movement founded in 1961 in Georgia. With the combined support of the NAACP and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Albany Movement was one of the earliest movements toward racial equality in the South. (This annotation contains an image)
What do these questions reveal about Doris' personality and her view of the world?
Compare and contrast the views of the sit-ins held by Doris, Reverend Sykes, and Stutz.
Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty starred in the 1961 film "Splendor in the Grass," a love story about two repressed teenagers from Kansas. The movie ends on a sad note, with Wood's character being institutionalized and Beatty's character moving on. The movie won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Livia kick Alice out of her car?
From her comments, who does Livia seem to be referring to when she provides this definition of insanity?
Joe Louis was the Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1937 to 1949. He is revered as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. (This annotation contains an image)
In your opinion, was Doris' protest a success or not? In Doris' opinion, was it a success? Why?
Stories 7-8 Quiz
Notice how this story ends on a more positive note than the previous ones did. Why do you think Packer chose to end the short story collection this way?