The Last Mission
In 1944, as World War II is raging across Europe, fifteen-year-old Jack Raab dreams of being a hero. Leaving New York City, his family, and his boyhood behind, Jack uses a false I.D. and lies his way into the U.S. Air Force. From their base in England, he and his crew fly twenty-four treacherous bombing missions over occupied Europe. The war is almost over and Hitler near defeat when they fly their last mission -- a mission destined for disaster. Shot down far behind enemy lines, Jack is taken prisoner and sent to a German POW camp, where his experiences are more terrifying than anything he'd ever imagined.
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The photograph below shows a Boeing B-17. This U.S. aircraft was made for bombing and was designed in the 1930's. (This annotation contains an image)
As a reader, you should be able to infer that the Air Corps is unaware that Jack is only fifteen. Watch the video below about making inferences. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Jack fool the recruiter?
It is important to know that during this time period (the World War II era), people were not as aware of the harmful health effects of cigarette smoking. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Jack nervous about?
Did you know that you can easily look up any definition in this book? Select the word that you need help with and choose the Define option to read the definition of the word. Try using the Define option now by looking up the definition of "mimicking."
Which of the following is a synonym for, or means the same as, "exhilarated"? Remember that you can use the Define option if you need help.
Watch the video below about historical fiction. What clues tell you that this story is historical fiction? (This annotation contains a video)
Is the highlighted text a simile or a metaphor? Explain how you came to your decision.
Watch the video below about simile and metaphor to prepare for the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
As you read the text, pay attention to how characters, especially Jack, develop over time. The video below will teach you more about character development. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is NOT a way that the Air Force training has affected Jack?
"PX" stands for "Postal Exchange." It is a place were members of the Air Force can do some shopping.
"MP" stands for "military police."
Watch the video about theme below. What themes do you see emerging in this story? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following options is a theme that appears in Chapter 3?
Watch the video below for a review on point of view. It will help you answer the next question. (This annotation contains a video)
From what point of view is the story told?
This is an example of a way in which the setting affects a character. Jack begins swearing because his friends in the Air Force swear. Do you think that Jack feels some peer pressure?
"The Fuhrer" is another name by which Adolf Hitler was known. Hitler was the leader of the Nazi party in Germany during World War II. The United States fought in opposition to the Nazis. A photograph of Adolf Hitler is embedded below. (This annotation contains an image)
Look back at the highlighted sentence. What is the meaning of "who got Hitler" in this context?
Aqua Velva is the name of an aftershave which was introduced in the 1920's. The advertisement for this product below was released around the same time that the story takes place. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following ideals is least important from Jack's point of view?
The mood of the story changes as Jack continues to walk along the street. At first he is excited to be in New Orleans, but then he begins to feel left out and alone. Watch the video below to learn about tone and mood. (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted text is an example of a simile because it uses the word "like" to compare one thing to another. In this case, which two things are being compared?
There is a picture below of Hunter College in New York City. (This annotation contains an image)
The main character's question about Teddy indicates that he feels ________.
As a reader, you can make an inference that Fred's wife has had a baby girl.
Which character does the narrator portray with the most negative language?
The highlighted text is an example of the narrator using imagery to help the reader picture a scene. The attention to detail also gives the reader an idea of how much Jack misses home. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following describes why the war seems more important and personal from Jack's perspective?
WAVES is an acronym for "Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service." WAVES was a division of the Navy which consisted of only women. The idea of allowing women to be in the armed forces during this time was seen as very progressive. (This annotation contains an image)
How does being in New York affect Jack?
Think back to the video you watched earlier about tone and mood. What is the mood of this scene? How does the author create this mood?
Which of the following words does NOT contribute to the troubled mood of the scene in which Jack gets drunk?
This image shows you what Jack's good conduct ribbon would look like. Jack is very proud of his ribbons and medals and enjoys being seen in his uniform. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted simile helps convey to the reader
Part II: The Missions
Play the video below to hear an instrumental version of Wild Blue Yonder: (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following options explains the meaning of the highlighted text?
Berlin, pictured below, is the capital city of Germany. (This annotation contains an image)
Jargon is technical language which is specific to a field or topic. This paragraph contains some examples of jargon related to the operation of aircraft. The reader can infer that the words "cowling" and "wheel chocks" are parts of the plane.
The highlighted sentence contains some jargon specific to the Air Force and requires the reader to make some inferences from the text. Which of the following is most likely defines "P-51" as it is used in this sentence?
Oxygen masks allow aviators to breathe after reaching several thousand feet in altitude. A WWII era oxygen mask is pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
The word "flak" is an example of
The highlighted text contains an example of hyperbole, or extreme exaggeration. The bomb run did not last "forever," but it did seem to last a long time to Jack. Watch the video below to learn more about hyperbole. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following best describes the experience of the bomb run from Jack's perspective?
These are the names of cities in Germany.
How does Jack's experience of fighting in the war compare to what he expected the experience to be like? Explain.
"Whispering and whistling" is an example of alliteration, when words in a sentence of phrase begin with the same sounds. Another example of alliteration is "Peter picked peppers."
Why does Jack most likely become moody if Dotty's letters are late?
Watch the video below about tension. How does the author create tension in this scene? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following accurately summarizes Jack's 12th mission?
Does Jack's attitude about the war change during the course of the text? Is he a static character or a dynamic character? (This annotation contains a video)
When a mission is "scrubbed," it means that
How does Jack treat women differently than his companions? What does this reveal about his personality and level of maturity?
The highlighted text contains an example of
The author uses this scene to create tension in the plot. What is tension and what makes this a tense scene?
The men are in danger not only because their plane has gone down, but also because they are no longer in Allied territory. Why is there location more dangerous now?
Which of the following options best describes the tone of the highlighted text?
At this point in the text, the author uses foreshadowing to hint that something bad will happen to Jack's friends. Watch the video below to learn more about foreshadowing. Then, as you continue reading, decide if the author foreshadowed an actual event here or if the foreshadowing was only used to create tension in the story. (This annotation contains a video)
The details in the highlighted text provide an example of
Watch the video below to learn more about pacing. This story is paced differently at times. For example, in the highlighted text, the author paces the story quickly to flash forward a few months. Sometimes, the author paces the story more slowly instead and focuses on details and minor events. (This annotation contains a video)
Chuckie says that this mission, like the others, will be a "milk run." What does he mean by this phrase? How did you come to your conclusion?
How does the author add suspense to this part of the plot? What do you believe the outcome of this mission will be?
The highlighted text contains an example of personification because the wind cannot actually scream like a person can. Watch the video below about personification. Does the use of this literary device make the story more interesting? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following phrases does NOT contribute to the horrified tone used to create the terrible scene in the aircraft?
Think about the tone used in the highlighted text. It is different from the panicked tone on the previous page. How would you describe the mood of this scene?
The author uses __________ to describe the spray of bullets in the highlighted sentence.
What inference can you make about Dave from the highlighted text?
Summarize what has happened during this bombing mission. Limit your response to two or three sentences which describe the events.
The highlighted text is an example of a brief flashback. Why is this image so important that the author chooses to include it again? You can watch the video below to review the concept of flashbacks. (This annotation contains a video)
Constellations are groups of stars which form patterns or pictures in the sky. People have been using constellations to help them navigate for a very long time, before more sophisticated forms of navigation even existed. The image below shows the constellation called the Big Dipper, which is being used by Jack to find his way West. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is NOT a factor which is contributing to the bad situation that Jack is in?
Which of the following options is a synonym for "ravenous"? You can use the Define feature if you need help answering this question.
What details tell the reader that the people in the town are unaware that Jack is a member of the United States Air Force?
Jack is sure the Germans will kill him. The article linked below contains the story of a real Jewish American solider became a prisoner of the Germans during WWII. How does what happens to the real soldier compare with what Jack thinks will happen to him is he is taken prisoner by the Germans?http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2013/09/perspective_one_nj_pows_world_war_ii_story.html
Which of the following values is a central idea in this chapter?
Which of the following best describes the experience of boarding the bus from Jack's perspective?
An idiom, such as "in the same boat," is a common phrase which has a meaning different from what it directly states. The highlighted idiom means that the men are all in the same situation. Can you think of any other idioms you have heard? (This annotation contains an image)
Klattau, pictured below, is a city in the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia during the time the story takes place). (This annotation contains an image)
Who brings Jack to the hospital in Czechoslovakia?
The author seems to be sending a message to the readers about the Germans. Their behaviors portray them a certain way. What message are you receiving about these people?
Explain how Stan's opinion of the Germans differs from Jack's opinion of them. How did you come to this conclusion?
Which of the following words best summarizes Jack's reason for joining the Air Force?
The highlighted word is a slang term which refers to Germans.
The Alps, pictured below, are a mountain range in Europe. (This annotation contains an image)
During this journey, Karl has disclosed to Stan and Jack that
Is it possible that Jack himself is responsible for maiming some of the German children, such as the boy who has lost his legs? Does it change your view of Jack or the Germans to think about the situation this way?
How does Jack view this child originally? How and why does his point of view change?
What theme is best supported by the highlighted text?
"Wehrmacht" is a broad term which includes all of Nazi Germany's armed forces, including the army, navy, and air force.
Which of the following quotes does NOT add to the tension the reader experiences at this point in the plot?
Part IV: Home
Which category does Jack fall into? What about Chuckie?
How has Jack's point of view regarding the Germans changed over the course of the novel? Explain.
A telegram is a message sent wirelessly via radio signals. This type of communication predates the telephone. After the message is sent via radio signals, the telegram is either printed or written down by a telegraph operator. The image below shows an early telegraph machine. (This annotation contains an image)
The words used to describe this scene create a ___________ mood.
"LST" is an acronym for Landing Ship Tank. You can see an image of one of these vessels below. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Jack finally consider admitting his real age to the Army? Why do you think he has had this change of heart?
"AWOL" is an acronym for "Absent Without Official Leave." There are severe penalties for those who desert the armed forces.
The idiom in the highlighted text means that
The initial reactions of Jack's superiors indicate that they are _________.
The Major indicates the Jack could have found himself in serious legal trouble and facing criminal charges because he lied to the United States Army. Why do you think the Army has rules about the enlistment age in place? Do Jack's superiors seem to be impressed by his bravery or disappointed by his reckless behavior?
"Yankel" is a Yiddish nickname for "Jacob."
Which of the following statements made by Jack's family members indicate their concern?
Pay attention to the highlighted text. Is this how you would have pictured Jack reacting to a compliment about being a hero when you were introduced to his character at the beginning of the story?
The details in the text mostly indicate that Jack's family is
As a reader, does being introduced to Chuckie's family make his death seem more tragic? Why might the author include this scene?
At this point in the text, Danny
What connection makes Jack so important to the O'Briens?
What is meant by the highlighted text? What does this tell you about how Jack is feeling at this moment?
Another central theme keeps reappearing at the end of the text. What is it? Watch the video below to review theme. (This annotation contains a video)
Dotty is mostly disappointed in Jack because
Douglas MacArthur was an American general who was famous for his involvement in the Pacific theater during WWII. (This annotation contains an image)
What central theme or lesson do you see addressed by the highlighted text? Explain your answer.
In the past, being honored in front of the school would have been something that Jack would have dreamed about because he always wanted to be thought of as a hero. What is his opinion of war and heroes now?
Sometimes, authors can condense a powerful thought or message into just a few words, often delivered by a main character or narrator. Does this brief, frank comment by the main character summarize an important major idea? Or is it simply an unimportant detail?