Purple Heart

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When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, he's honored with a Purple Heart. But he doesn't feel like a hero.

There's a memory that haunts him: an image of a young Iraqi boy as a bullet hits his chest. Matt can't shake the feeling that he was somehow involved in his death. But because of a head injury he sustained just moments after the boy was shot, Matt can't quite put all the pieces together.

Eventually Matt is sent back into combat with his squad—Justin, Wolf, and Charlene—the soldiers who have become his family during his time in Iraq. He just wants to go back to being the soldier he once was. But he sees potential threats everywhere and lives in fear of not being able to pull the trigger when the time comes. In combat there is no black-and-white, and Matt soon discovers that the notion of who is guilty is very complicated indeed.

National Book Award Finalist Patricia McCormick has written a visceral and compelling portrait of life in a war zone, where loyalty is valued above all, and death is terrifyingly commonplace.

Curriculet Details
37 Questions
39 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for middle school students contains interactive videos exploring Islam and the Iraq war, as well as annotations describing military information and traumatic brain injury. Students will explore the themes of the ugly truth about war and things not always being as they seem. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

The curriculet is being added to your library

Begin Reading

All stories have a conflict in them. Conflict and its resolution create the events in a story. Watch the video below to understand the difference between internal and external conflict. As you read, determine if conflicts are internal or external. (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? 
Why doesn't Matt respond to receiving a Purple Heart the way other soldiers have reacted? 

Homework #6

The website below details the differences in mild traumatic brain injuries in comparison to more severe traumatic brain injuries. After reviewing the symptoms and hearing what is being said about Matt, how severe do you think his TBI is? (This annotation contains a link)
Who is "the brass"? Use the context of the paragraph to determine the meaning. 
This is a picture of the Republican Palace in Baghdad, part of the Green Zone. How does this fit with what you imagined based on what you have read in the text? (This annotation contains an image)
Matt surely has many questions about his injury and recovery. Write two or three questions you would have if you were Matt. Explain why you would have those questions, using details from the text to make your explanations. 

Homework #7

The picture below shows what a soldier would look like wearing his ACUs. Look at the explanation of the different elements of the ACU. Are there any that are surprising or interesting to you? (This annotation contains an image)
This sentence contains a euphemism, which is when a more polite or gentle phrase is used to describe something that is rude or unpleasant. The euphemism highlighted is, "And so I light him up." Which statement would be a more direct substitute? 
The picture below shows some examples of satellite phones, commonly used by the military, especially in remote locations where more traditional methods of communication might not be possible. What other kinds of people might want to use satellite phones? (This annotation contains an image)
What literary device is being used in this paragraph? 
The video below shows retired Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, the soccer player that Ali imitates after he scores a goal. In the video, you can see Ronaldo do this move a few times. Can you think of any other "signature moves" by athletes after they score or win? (This annotation contains a video)
How is the author building up your curiosity about what happened to Matt? 
The drugs being referred to are likely benzedrine, Percocet, and oxycontin, all very powerful and potentially addictive prescription drugs. Read more about prescription drug addiction at the site below. What effects of the drugs make them addictive, and how could an addiction be dangerous? (This annotation contains a link)
After reading the story about Justin, Matt, and the old man, how do you think you are supposed to feel about Justin and Matt? What happened in the story to make you feel this way about them? 
Stray animals in Iraq were often seen as a nuisance, and stray dogs were routinely trapped and euthanized. Below is the story of an American soldier who rescued four dogs from Iraq. After reading the story, think about why people serving overseas in the military would care so much about the stray animals. (This annotation contains a link)

Homework #8

Which of the following things does Matt NOT want help with? 

Homework #9

Below is a picture of a Bronze Star medal, likely similar to the one Justin's dad received in Vietnam. Would Justin deserve a medal like this? (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what you have seen of Matt so far, which word could describe him? 
The site below is the information site for the National Guard. Watch the video on the home page. What kinds of things do members of the National Guard do?  (This annotation contains a link)
Do you agree or disagree with Matt's thoughts on the meaning of war? Use your own personal understanding as well as what you have learned thus far in this text. 
This novel is most like realistic fiction, but it is also being set up much like a mystery. Watch the video below for a simple explanation of the genre of mystery and think about how this story might also be a mystery. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #10

Why is Matt irritated by Caroline's letter? 
In the video below, you can hear what the muezzin sounds like. Try to hear it the way Matt would hear it. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #11

You have learned a little about life in the green zone and life in the combat zone from Matt. Which do you think he would prefer to be in? Explain your response by using examples from the text. 
Use the "define" feature to see the two definitions of "haji." Which definition do you think is being used in this context? What makes you think this? 

Homework #12

What makes Matt think he killed the boy? 
Time is expressed in military time. Using the chart below, convert 1800 hours to the standard time you are used to using. (This annotation contains an image)
The men in the picture below are wearing Muslim skullcaps, which are worn during prayer and scripture study. Can you think of other times of religious sacredness when head coverings are worn? (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz One 

Homework #13

What do you think is the reason for the oddly shaped body bag? What makes you think this? Use details from the text to elaborate. 

Homework #14

How is this story like a mystery so far? 
The picture below is a Humvee. What might cause it to break down often? (This annotation contains an image)
You can read about what a court martial is at the site below. Why does Matt think he could possibly be court martialed? (This annotation contains a link)
Do you think Matt is ready to return to combat? What makes you think this? Use evidence from the text to support your opinion. 
Matt is trying to appear healthier than he is for Kwong, likely so he can return to his unit. Why is he so eager to get back? 
How do you think that familiar items from grocery stores in the United States makes soldiers feel? 
Why do you think Matt picked up Arabic more quickly and easily than Spanish? 
The site below lists the numerous military acronyms used. Find the acronym SOP, which has two meanings. Which one is Matt meaning to use in this situation? (This annotation contains a link)
What does Fuchs mean by his statement to Matt? 

Homework #15

The picture below is of a traditional boom box. Why do you think this portable radio was given this nickname? (This annotation contains an image)
Matt can't fully remember what happened with Ali, but he also can't seem to forget that something did happen with Ali. Which do you think would be better for Matt -- to know the whole story or to remember nothing that happened? Why? Use details from the text to back up your response. 
Matt is likely referring to the Catholic sacrament of confession. Why would doing this hopefully make Matt feel better? (This annotation contains a link)
How is this story different from the one you've been hearing about from Matt? 
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was a policy that existed in the United States military regarding homosexuality. It has since been repealed.  

Homework #16

How could it be to Matt's advantage that his "...recollection of the chain of events would not be considered reliable"? 
Watch the video below, which is a little bit long (eight minutes). While you are watching it, see if you can find any similarities in Matt and Chad Russell's experience.  (This annotation contains a video)
How has the plot changed? 

Homework #18

Meaghan's salute likely looked like the one in the picture. How do you think Matt felt when she saluted him? (This annotation contains an image)
What is your opinion of Meaghan? Did she help Matt or hurt him? Use details from the text to support what you say. 

Homework #19

Baby wipes have been mentioned a couple of times in this book. Read the story below about one community sending baby wipes to members of the military in Afghanistan. Why do you think the soldiers are so appreciative of baby wipes? (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following things is NOT an indicator that Matt is afraid something bad might happen to him once he returns to his squad? 
"MRE" stands for "Meal Ready to Eat." Members of the military often eat MREs. The picture below is of an MRE omelet. Does this look like a tasty, satisfying breakfast for a soldier? (This annotation contains an image)
How does Matt's return to his squad NOT live up to his expectations? 
Why are Charlene and Wolf acting the way they are? 
Charlene is correct! There are health benefits to owning pets! Read the short article below about how pets can be beneficial. Which do you think is the biggest health benefit? (This annotation contains a link)

Homework #20

Quiz Two 

Homework #21

The soldier below is wearing a CamelBak hydration pack, probably similar to the one Matt is wearing. Why would carrying a hydration pack be so important to the soldiers in Iraq? (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Matt so glad to see Charlene? 
Stay Alert Gum is a real thing. Read more about it in the article below. What are some of the benefits of this gum? (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Matt seem different to Charlene, and why does she seem different to him? Is it somehow related to Matt's injury or could something romantic be brewing between them? Explain what you think is the relationship between Matt and Charlene, remembering to use evidence from the text. 
Charlene is one female soldier with many male colleagues. What do you think that must be like for her? 

Homework #22

Which of the following is NOT one way Matt's injury keeps showing itself again? 

Homework #23

The soldiers below are sleeping on cots like the one Matt is sleeping on. How tired would you have to be to sleep solidly and soundly on one of those cots? (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #24

Charlene's mention of Rambo is an example of allusion, which is when a reference without explanation is made to someone or something of historical, literary, or social significance. (This annotation contains a link)
Where do you think Matt is going? 
How is the author creating more tension in the plot? 

Homework #25

"Siamese twins" is an outdated expression for the term conjoined twins. You can read about this real but rare condition at the website below. What was McNally trying to tell Matt when he said that he and Charlene were Siamese twins from now on? (This annotation contains a link)

Homework #26

You still don't know exactly what happened in the alley with Ali and how Matt and Justin are involved. There are only hints and clues. Formulate your own theory of what happened in the alley that day, elaborating on your theory with details from the text. 
Chai is a kind of spiced tea. It's become popular in the United States thanks to Starbucks. (This annotation contains a link)
Matt was concerned about how he would react in a combat situation. Write a brief analysis of how Matt handled himself considering what he has been through.  
Look at the way the word "boring" is used. Using context clues, can you come up with a synonym or definition for the word? Use the "Define" feature to help you, if necessary. 
What does it mean that Ali was wearing soccer cleats? 
Did you know that there is an Army way to fold clothes? Watch the video below to see how to fold and roll a t-shirt.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why do you think Justin was unable to shoot his gun after the incident with Ali? 

Homework #27

The website below gives an overview of month-by-month weather averages for Baghdad, Iraq. How much or how little does this resemble the weather and climate where you live? (This annotation contains a link)

Homework #29

Why does Matt see everyone as a threat? Is he being practical or paranoid, in your opinion? Be sure to use examples from the text in your response. 
The uniforms the children are wearing might look similar to the ones the Iraqi children are wearing in the picture below. What might be the advantages and disadvantages to wearing a uniform like this? (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz Three