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Stotan: A cross between a Stoic and a Spartin

It's the last swimming season for Walker, Nortie, Lion, and Jeff, and their coach is building their self-discipline in a grueling four-hour-a-day test of stamina designed to bring them to the outer edge of their capabilities.

As it turns out, Stotan Week is also the week in which secrets are revealed, and the four friends must draw upon their new strengths for an endurance they never knew they'd need.

Curriculet Details
44 Questions
47 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring simile and metaphor, and literal versus figurative language, as well as annotations describing tone and mood, theme, and imagery. Students will explore the themes of friendship and family. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension. Note to teachers: this book contains difficult themes such as domestic abuse and terminal illness.

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Chapter 1

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?  
What can you infer about the boys' relationship with Max from what you have read thus far? 
Just for reference, Spokane is a city in eastern Washington state. It is extremely close to the border of Washington and Idaho, and is home to Gonzaga University. (This annotation contains an image)
This sentence contains a simile. A simile is a comparison between two things that uses the words "like" or "as." In this case, Nortie's head position is being compared to that of a cocker spaniel's. Similes and metaphors (another literary device that compares two things) are used to produce vivid imagery, and to enliven the reading experience. Watch the video below to learn more about these literary devices. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following list of adjectives best describes Elaine? 

Chapter 2

What does this paragraph teach you about Lion that you didn't already know about him? Does it change your opinion of him at all? 
The narrator of this story, Walker or "Walk," has an easy, casual way of describing his life leading up to Stotan week. Do you find him to be trustworthy? Think about why you either trust or mistrust him as you continue reading. Walk is also the novel's protagonist. A protagonist is the main character in a book, and is generally someone whom the reader is supposed to want to see succeed. To learn more about protagonists and antagonists, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
This phrase is a derogatory term used to describe communists. From the early 1900s through the 1970s, communists were treated with mistrust and even violent hatred in the United States. Communism was seen as a threat to democracy, and as such, anyone associated with communism was considered suspect. "Pinko" refers to someone who may not be a full-blown communist, but who is nonetheless sympathetic to communism. The term comes from the fact that red is a color associated with communism, (think Mao, think Lenin) so a "pinko" is someone who is not quite red. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following choices best describe the narrator's attitude towards his former relationship? 

Chapter 3

This excerpt contains figurative language. Figurative language is when words or phrases are not meant to be taken literally. In this case, Nortie does not literally dodge the narrator's suggestion, he does so figuratively by not responding. To learn more about figurative versus literal language, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following literary devices is NOT present in this paragraph? 
You are about to read about how Lion deals with the distribution of these newspapers around his school. Before you continue, stop to think about what you would do in his position. Would you take action? Why or why not?  
Based on what you've read so far, what time period do you think this novel takes place during and why? In what ways is this novel NOT specific to any particular time or place? 

Chapter 4

The tone of this excerpt is lighthearted but sarcastic. Tone is the speaker's attitude towards a subject. Mood is a character's feelings or a situation's atmosphere. You will be asked to discuss the novel's tone and mood in the future. To learn more about tone and mood, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Use the Define feature to read the definition of ritzier. Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite in meaning) of ritzier as it is used here? 
This last section of the chapter brings up some of the burgeoning themes in this novel- family and friendship. A theme is a main idea that is explored throughout a novel, and it usually reflects a message that the author would like to get across to his or her readers. Watch the video below to learn more about literary themes and keep your eye out for other developing themes as you read. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 5

What is implied about how the narrator feels about Marty O'Brian? 
Do you agree with Max's philosophy here? Why or why not? 
What do Walker's musings about his relationships reveal about his character? 
Sadly, Nortie is not alone in perpetuating the violence he has experienced at the hands of his own father. Studies show that 30% of children who are abused go on to abuse their own children. 
What does this chapter reveal about Nortie's character? Has your opinion of him changed? Use textual evidence to back up your claims. 
This sentence is a fine example of imagery. Imagery is when an author uses words to paint a vivid picture. We know that Jamie is upset, but by writing that he "glare[s] a hole in his shoes" the author has helped us to visualize exactly how is anger and sadness have manifested. To learn more about imagery, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz 1 

Chapter 6

What does Nortie's quitting say about him as a person? 
Freedom Riders were people who rode in buses down to the American South in 1961 in order to protest the continued segregation of public buses there. Although their protests were peaceful, Freedom Riders often met with extreme violence and were often incarcerated by segregationist police forces. The picture below shows the mugshots of some of the Freedom Riders who were arrested for their peaceful protest. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the structure of this chapter, with both the narrator's observations and Max's posted sign, impact the reader's experience as the details of Stotan Week become clearer? 
For reference, the 500 yard freestyle is the longest race in high school swimming, and it is a 20 lap race. 
Some of the descriptions of the swimmers's fatigue verges on hyperbole. Hyperbole is a gross exaggeration, meant to engage the reader with a vivid image. The narrator's spleen probably isn't sore in a literal sense, but to say that it is gives the reader a sense of just how much pain the narrator is in. Another common use of hyperbole is in relation to hunger: have you ever heard someone say "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse"? To learn more about hyperbole, check out the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following literary devices are contained in this paragraph? 
Which of the novel's themes does this scene best relate to? 
Note the use of hyperbole again. Be on the lookout for more examples of hyperbole; maybe a few will relate to something other than Walker's exhaustion and soreness! 
The United States military has a long history of verbally abusing and humiliating new soldiers. The idea behind this tradition (known as "hazing") is that it toughens them up for combat and the other challenges of military life. In 2005, the military was made to cut back on this practice after a number of young cadets committed suicide in large part due to the humiliation and verbal abuse they had reported experiencing. What do you think of this tradition? Would it be motivational for you, or problematic? (This annotation contains an image)
What is the purpose of Jeff's story? Do you think it succeeded in fulfilling this purpose? 
Statistics show that victims of abuse often lie about it. They may do so out of fear that if they "snitch" they will face even worse abuse when the abuser finds out, or they may do it out of shame or even a desire to protect their abuser. Why do you think Nortie's mom lies about how Jeremy broke his arm? 
Which of the novel's themes does Nortie's story and his friends' response most closely relate to? 
The word "whappo" is an example of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is when a word imitates the sound it represents. Other examples of onomatopoeia include buzz, thwack and ding. Can you think of other examples of onomatopoeia? (This annotation contains an image)
What is the tone at the end of this chapter? 

Chapter 7

In what ways are Walker and his friends typical high school boys? In what ways are they unique? Use textual evidence to back up your claims. 
Errol Flynn was an actor from Australia who was best known for playing swashbuckling heartthrobs. Most of his work comes from the 1930s and early 1940s. He starred in films like Murder at Monte Carlo, The Adventures of Robin Hood and Dodge City. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice the onomatopoeia here. Have you seen other examples of this literary device? 
Use the Define feature to read the definition of lurid. Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite in meaning) of lurid as it is used here? 
What is the tone of this section? 
Before you continue reading, make a prediction about whether or not Walker will go through with his decision to break up with Devnee. What makes you think the way that you do? 
Max doesn't explain what the "Dragon" is, but the fact that it is capitalized in the text suggests that it's something important. What do you think the Dragon is, given the context of Max's speech? 
In many ways, Max is presented as an ideal human being. He is strong, honorable and, apparently, has a great eye for detail. Can you find any flaws in Max's character? 

Chapter 8

This statement is an example of 
Here is a visual representation of what Jeff is wearing. Marine Corps dress blues are worn to events that civilians would wear tuxedos and black tie formal clothing to. (This annotation contains an image)
What aspect of Walker's personality drives his desire to find and confront his brother about the drugs? 
Notice that in spite of the seriousness of this situation, Walker's good-natured sarcasm still finds a way onto the page. 
What is the purpose of this scene in which Walker and his friends attempt to get Nortie's things? 
There may not be a ton of signs that this novel takes places a few decades ago, but the use of pay phones should be a tip-off to you that this story isn't happening in modern day. What other clues have you found that point to the story taking place in the semi-recent past?  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 9

This paragraph suggests that Nortie's transition to living with the Duprees is 
If you were in Nortie's position, what would you do? Whose opinion do you agree with more, Nortie's or Walker's? 
Jungle bunny is a racist and dated term for an African-American person. 
Which of the novel's main themes does this conversation most closely relate to? 
This is the beginning of a flashback which will explain why Elaine has a "cure" for boys lying about having slept with her. A flashback is when a narrator takes the reader back in time in order to explain something or to give background information. To learn more about flashbacks, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Walker's reaction to this situation reveal what he thinks about Elaine and her character? Use textual evidence to back up your response. 
What could have left Jeff so winded? This is likely an example of foreshadowing. By hinting briefly at something before it occurs or is completely explained, authors can build tension and keep readers engaged. For more on foreshadowing, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 10

Nortie's adjustment to his new life is going 
Nortie is just being silly right now, but for reference, Henny Youngman was a comedian and violinist. Nortie probably yelled out his name while making ice skating motions because of its (sort of) similarity to Sonja Henie's name. Sonja Henie was an olympic champion ice skater from Norway. Dick Button was an American figure skater. (This annotation contains an image)
Nortie's choice of names for his experimental rats is meant to be 
Quiz 2 

Chapter 11

What aspects of this story are specific to the book and NOT a universal experience? 
These are all old school country singers. Wynette, Jones and Autry all enjoyed successful country music in different decades of the 1900s. You can hear a famous Gene Autry song via the link below. (This annotation contains a video)
What is implied in these remarks? 
This is a pretty powerful simile. What do you think Max means by this? Why fury and not something with a more positive connotation? 
The tone changes from ________ to ________ in this excerpt. 
This sentence contains a literary device called litote. A litote is when an understated but positive idea is expressed using negative language. In this case, by saying that the world is "not without" strangeness, Walker means that the world is full of strangeness. Another example of litotes is saying something "isn't bad" to mean that it's good (for example: that sandwich wasn't bad!). Another common litote is the phrase "not unlike," as in "the cheetah is not unlike the jaguar in that they can both be spotted". Can you think of any other types of litotes? 
How does the structure of this novel (the order in which events are presented, the pacing, etc) contribute to the tension felt by the reader? 
Do you agree with Walker here? What does this statement reveal about how he feels regarding hospitals? 

Chapter 12

This is an interesting statement, especially given that these boys have discussed really serious topics with each other in the last few months. What makes Jeff's illness different from Nortie's abusive home life or Lion's parents' death? Use textual evidence to back up your claims. 
What do you think of the school's decision? Would you have made the same choice? Why or why not? 
Which of the following literary devices is NOT in this excerpt? 
This is a reference to the states of grief. According to the K├╝bler-Ross model, people experience five stages when facing their own mortality or the death of a loved one: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Everyone goes through these stages at a different pace. 
How has Stotan Week affected how Walker and his friends approach their everyday lives? 

Chapter 13

Tapering, or tapering off, means easing up on your workout routine in the days or weeks before a competition. The idea is that your body should be rested before race day. 
Marty O'Brian's character is presented as 
Along the way, Walker has hinted that he's not always sure if you're always supposed to ignore your pain. Is now a good time to be a Stotan, or does it make more sense for Nortie to admit that he is hurt? 
In your opinion, are Walker and his friends' actions justified? Why or why not? 
This is a pretty good one-liner. What does Walker mean when he says this? 
What is remarkable about this statement? 
The carotid artery is the blood vessel in your neck that you touch to measure your pulse. In martial arts, it can be used as a pressure point to cause extreme pain or even to knock people unconscious. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 14

Compare Walker to a character in another book you've read. How are they similar? How are they different? 
Now that you know Walker pretty well, what advice would you give him? 
Which of the following words best describes how Walker feels about his relationship with Devnee? 
Walker's trying to break up with Devnee has happened so many times throughout this novel that it fully qualifies as a motif. A motif is an image, phrase or idea that is repeated over the course of a novel in order to highlight one of the work's themes. In this case, the motif of Walker's continued failures to break up with his girlfriend speak to the novel's theme of the challenges of growing up, and what it means to be a man. Please watch the video below to learn more about motifs. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 15

Gin rummy has become symbolic of Jeff and his friendship with his teammates. Symbolism is when something literal, like a bird or a key or a card game, stands for something abstract. To learn more about symbolism and its uses in literature, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
This paragraph is important because it 
Compare and contrast Derek Redmond's injury-plagued race with Walker's. Does Redmond qualify as a Stotan? Why or why not? 
Please watch this video of Derek Redmond's 1992 Olympic performance. Be prepared to discuss it in the question below. (This annotation contains a video)
Oh, Lion! Don't you love his spirit? Was there a time that you decided to flout the rules in order to do what you thought was right? 
An anticlimax is a let down or a disappointment on the way to a climax. If you drove all night to see the sunrise from a mountain peak and the sunrise was covered by fog and clouds, that would be an anticlimax. The opposite of an anticlimax, of course, is a climax! The climax of this book just happened. All of the tension, all of the hard work, all of the tears and blood led to the boys' performance at States. (This annotation contains an image)
How has Walker's worldview changed over the course of this novel? 
Quiz 3