Trouble Don't Last
Eleven-year-old Samuel was born as Master Hackler's slave, and working the Kentucky farm is the only life he's ever knownuntil one dark night in 1859, that is. With no warning, cranky old Harrison, a fellow slave, pulls Samuel from his bed and, together, they run. The journey north seems much more frightening than Master Hackler ever was, and Samuel's not sure what freedom means aside from running, hiding, and starving. But as they move from one refuge to the next on the Underground Railroad, Samuel uncovers the secret of his own pastand future. And old Harrison begins to see past a whole lifetime of hurt to the promise of a new lifeand a poignant reunion in Canada. In a heartbreaking and hopeful first novel, Shelley Pearsall tells a suspenseful, emotionally charged story of freedom and family.Trouble Don't Lastincludes an historical note and map.
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Chapter 1 - Trouble
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?
Chapter 2 - The Broken Plate
'Mas' is short for Master, which is what slaves called their owners.
An illustration of a slave auction. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you think Miz Catherine is telling the truth when she says the plate's cost is $4.00? Use evidence from the text to explain.
Which of Samuel's feelings does the snake represent?
Chapter 3 - Harrison's Warning
Threescore is a phrase that means three times 20, which equals 60. Threescore and ten would be 60 plus ten, or 70. Harrison doesn't know his actual age, but thinks he is around 70 years old. Slaves often did not know their exact ages or birthdays because records were not kept on them.
What do you predict is about to happen to Samuel?
Chapter 4 - Old Master Hackler's Ghost
A straw tick is a bed mattress made from a coarse cotton material and filled with straw. (This annotation contains an image)
Personification is a figure of speech in which a non-human object is given a human quality or action. Which of the objects in the highlighted sentences is being personified with an action?
When Samuel says Master will "cowhide" them, he means they will be whipped as punishment. The whip was made from leather, which is tanned cowhide. A slave whip is pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
Which object is being personified in the highlighted phrase?
Some slaves who tried to escape rubbed onions on their bodies to hide their scents from the bloodhounds that the slave owners would send out to track them down. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 5 - Onions
What does Harrison mean when he says the highlighted sentence? After being a slave for most of his life, why is he running now?
The northern United States was against slavery. Slaves who tried to escape from southern states were considered free men once they crossed into a northern state. There was still a possibility that they could be captured and returned to their owners in the south, but many were willing to take that chance for freedom. Samuel and Harrison would have to travel north from Kentucky into Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio to try to live as free men. (This annotation contains an image)
Why didn't Harrison fish at night anymore after he was caught?
What does Samuel mean when he says he thought Harrison was going to split me in half like a fence rail when he was climbing up?
Runaway slaves who were captured were often beaten or whipped as punishment. Some were branded or had their hair cut so that others knew they were slaves if they tried to run again. Some slaves were killed once they were found, used by owners as an example to the other slaves of what would happen if they tried to run.
Chapter 6 - Still as a Tree
Why is Samuel hurting when he thinks about Lilly looking for them?
Chapter 7 - Night Scare
Rigor mortis happens when limbs stiffen and become difficult to move after death. Harrison's legs are asleep after sitting in the tree for so long, and he's comparing it to rigor mortis because of the similar stiffness.
There were many laws in place for punishment of runaway slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was one of the most controversial laws. It stated that all escaped slaves would be captured and returned to their masters, even if they were in northern free states. The ad below was placed in a newspaper offering a reward for the return of a runaway slave. (This annotation contains an image)
Harrison is remembering an event from his past. Using evidence from the text, explain what Harrison is remembering. Who was with him? What did Old Mas Hackler do?
How does Samuel feel when he is wrapped in the blankets?
Chapter 8 - Spiders and Candles
Although $700 might not seem like much to us now, in the early 1800s, that was equal to around what $12,000 is to us now. Slaves were very valuable to their owners, which is why they tried to get them back when they ran away.
Why was Lilly mad at Samuel for being proud of what Master Hackler said?
If you were Samuel, which would you rather do: run with Harrison or stay at the Hackler's farm? Use evidence from the text to explain why.
Different characters have different points of view in a story. They see the same events in different ways. Who might have the point of view that Harrison and Samuel are wrong to run away?
Chapter 9 - Two Fingers Gone
Before modern farm tractors and machines were invented, farmers used plow horses to seed, cultivate, and harvest their fields. (This annotation contains an image)
Below is a picture of a tow sack. (This annotation contains an image)
From Samuel's point of view, Harrison was wrong to take the items from the Hacklers. Why did Harrison think it was okay to take them? Do you agree with Samuel or Harrison?
Most slaves were not educated and could not read or write. Slave owners did not teach them because they were afraid that if the slaves were educated, they could band together and rise up against the slave owners. It was one way the slave owners controlled the slaves.
Spiritual songs were very important to slaves. They were sung to provide comfort, pray, and ease the boredom of their daily tasks. The clip below from the movie "12 Years A Slave" shows a group of slaves singing "Roll Jordan Roll", referencing the River Jordan and the freedom it represents. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 10 - River of Death
Why might Harrison be angry at Samuel for asking about the rivers?
A metaphor is a word or phrase that is used to make a similar comparison between two things. For slaves, the River Jordan was a metaphor for
Chapter 11 - Cornfield Bottoms
A simile is a figure of speech that uses the words like or as to compare two different things. The highlighted words are one example of a simile. Which of the phrases below is a simile?
A view of the Ohio River, known to Harrison and Samuel as the River Jordan. Samuel doesn't believe they can walk across this great river. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 12 - The River Man
Think about what you've learned about slaves and their punishment. Who do you think the river man might be? What do you think caused the white marks and lines on his body?
Chapter 13 - Hetty Scott
Use the dictionary feature to read the definition of harrow. Focus on the third definition. Which of these words is a synonym for harrow?
Samuel doesn't think the river man cares about them. Which of the following textual evidence tells you Samuel is wrong?
Why did the river man push Hetty in the boat back into the river?
Chapter 14 - A Forest of Silence
Slaves with chains and collars around their necks (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted phrase is an example of which type of figurative language?
The river man is a conductor in the Underground Railroad, a large network of people who helped runaway slaves escape to the North and to Canada. A conductor's job was to move slaves from one station to the next. Stations were the homes and businesses where slaves hid and rested.
Why is the river man making Samuel learn to walk like a free man?
After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, not even the northern states were safe for runaway slaves. Notices like this one were posted to help runaway slaves avoid slave hunters. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 15 - The Gray Yarn
Do you agree with Harrison's point of view about stealing the items from Master Hackler's house? Use evidence from the text to explain why or why not.
Watch the video below on how to identify themes in literature. (This annotation contains a video)
Use the video that you just watched to help answer this question. Which of these themes have you seen in the story so far?
Chapter 16 - Widow Taylor
In the past, women whose husbands passed away dressed in all black for up to two years after the death. They did this to show others that they were in mourning.
The Widow Taylor was considered a stationmaster in the Underground Railroad because her home was a station, a place for runaway slaves to hide and eat on their journey.
The Widow Taylor won't touch the coins they touched and tells Harrison and Samuel that she's only continuing to hide colored people in the cellar because Jacob told her to. These are examples of textual evidence that support the theme of
Is Harrison's point of view prejudiced toward white people as the Widow Taylor's is toward black people? Why or why not?
Chapter 17 - Beneath Hay and Feed Sacks
Journeys and quests are common themes found in many different stories. Samuel is on a journey to freedom in this story. He is meeting different characters along the way who help him on his journey. Think of other stories you have heard or read in which a character is on a journey or a quest. How is Samuel's journey similar or different from the journey in the other story? Use evidence from the text in your answer.
Just like with education, many southern slaves weren't allowed to attend church services with other slaves. Slave owners were afraid they would join together and rise against the owners. Some slave owners built church houses on their land for their slaves, but many slaves were taught religion from their families and older slaves, not from ministers at churches.
Chapter 18 - Our Poor Colored Brethren
This bible may be similar to the one Harrison and Samuel saw in the church. (This annotation contains an image)
If you were Samuel, would you trust Reverend Pry to help you and keep you safe? Why or why not?
People who believed slavery was wrong and fought to end it were called abolitionists. It was common for abolitionist preachers to share the struggles of slaves with the people in their churches to help build support for ending slavery and to add people to the Underground Railroad network.
Why is it so hard for Samuel and Harrison to believe there are white people who want to hear their stories?
Chapter 19 - Laid to Rest
How do you think Harrison is feeling in this moment? Why is he reacting so sharply to Mr. Keepheart?
Think about how strange it would be for Samuel, as a colored slave, to not only be in a white people's church for the very first time in his life, but to be left alone there to sleep for the night. Most slaves would never see a church building that belonged to white people, much less go inside or sleep in it. Think about the thoughts, feelings, and changes happening in Samuel as you continue to read.
What is the danger of their stories being written down?
Chapter 20 - Carryin On
Use this photo to answer the next question. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the photo in the annotation above relate to this story?
Harrison is the only father figure that Samuel has known. How would losing him affect Samuel and his journey? Think about other characters who have lost fathers or father figures in other stories and how they were affected. Would Samuel's loss of Harrison be similar or different?
Chapter 21 - Ham, Eggs, and Miz Kettle
The people who moved runaway slaves from one place to another in the Underground Railroad were called
A photo of the home of Reverend John Rankin in Ripley, Ohio. His home was the first station that runaway slaves would come to once they crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky. (This annotation contains an image)
List the characters we have met in this story so far.
Chapter 22 - A Stringer of Fish
Why has Harrison's point of view on going to Canada changed?
Chapter 23 - Green Murdock
Below is a photo of a peddler from the 1850s. His cases held the items he would sell door-to-door. (This annotation contains an image)
What do the birds have that Samuel and Harrison don't, which is also a theme in this story?
Green Murdock's statement about asking colored folks not to touch anything is another example of which theme?
Willowware bowls (This annotation contains an image)
Does Green Murdock fit the opinion that Harrison had of peddlers? A liar or a cheat? Would you trust Green if you were Samuel? Use evidence from the text to explain your answer.
Chapter 24 - Ace of Spades
There were several yellow fever epidemics throughout the U.S. before 1859. People didn't know then that it was spread by mosquitoes. Yellow fever caused its victims to have high fevers, vomiting, and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes and stomach. It was a feared disease.
Use this poem for the question below. (This annotation contains a link)
How does the poem, Away to Canada, connect to Samuel's story?
Chapter 25 - Negro Hollow
Why would a neat and tidy porch make Samuel so nervous?
There was often a big difference in the treatment of house slaves and field hands. House slaves were often kept healthy and treated well. Field hands were seen as workhorses who could be easily replaced each harvest year. The majority of slaves were field hands. (This annotation contains an image)
A strong theme in this story is survival. How have Harrison's actions supported this theme?
Chapter 26 - Red Stars in a White Sky
Lung fever is known today as pneumonia. It occurs when fluid fills the lungs, making it hard to breathe.
Why is Belle asking Samuel so many questions?
Why is Samuel having trouble understanding and wanting freedom?
View the image below to see an iron horse coming down the tracks. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Harrison never told Samuel that he was his grandfather?
Chapter 27 - Harrison's Secret
Remember that slaves were seen as nothing more than property. They were to do whatever their owner told them, even if it meant leaving their families and homes to go with another slave owner.
The last question asked why you thought Harrison never told Samuel that he was his grandfather. Now that Harrison has explained more, answer that question again. Use evidence from the text in your answer.
Chapter 28 - Snow Coming
How does the painting connect with this story?
Use the Jacob Lawrence painting below to answer the next question. (This annotation contains an image)
The lake August is talking about is Lake Erie, which serves as the border between Ohio and Canada. (This annotation contains an image)
What have Harrison and Samuel had to do with the people that have helped them along the way?
Chapter 29 - Ordee Lee
Slaves would not have family photos taken, which is why Ordee Lee only has the locks of hair to carry with him. Photos were expensive and slaves weren't seen as being worthy enough to have something like a family photo taken of them.
Though they have only been through two states, Harrison and Samuel's story has had many different settings. Describe the settings we have seen so far.
Chapter 30 - Going North
Samuel's feelings about Canada seem to be changing. He used to feel mainly fear, but now he is starting to feel
Remember that slave catchers were paid rewards from slave owners when they returned runaway slaves. It would have been much easier for slave catchers to watch the boats at a place where a lot of runaway slaves try to cross Lake Erie than to chase them around the country.
There have been many references to fear in this story, as it is one of the strongest themes. An antonym is a word that means the opposite of another word. Which of these is an antonym for fear?
Does Bowlegs seem trustworthy? Use evidence from the text to explain why or why not.
Chapter 31 - Haste Will Be Your Undoing
With all that has happened to Samuel and Harrison, to get this close to freedom and get caught at the very end most likely makes Samuel feel
A constable is a law enforcement official who is usually elected to office. The photo below shows a constable from around 1850. (This annotation contains an image)
Samuel had to do many courageous things throughout the story. What do you think was the most courageous thing he did? Explain your answer with evidence from the text.
Chapter 32 - Keep Your Eye on the Sun
In the Bible, God parted the Red Sea to allow Moses and his people to walk through it while escaping the Egyptians. The people on the dock parted like the water of the Red Sea and let Samuel, Harrison and Ordee Lee pass by. (This annotation contains an image)
How did Samuel change throughout his journey from Kentucky to Canada? Who or what helped him change the most? Use evidence from the text to explain your answers.