The Storm Before Atlanta
At a time when most people have grown weary of the war between the states, two young children are desperate to find their way to the battlefields. Jeremy DeGroot wants nothing more than to join a troop as a drummer boy. For Dulcie, a runaway slave, freedom means she must head directly toward the fighting in the hopes that she'll become "contraband," that is, property of the Union troops. Both Jeremy and Dulcie find a place with the 107th New York Volunteer Regiment and even start to forge a friendship. But all that is threatened when they keep crossing paths with the mysterious Charlie, a young Confederate soldier, who may look like the enemy but feels more like a friend. Young readers who like their fiction filled with exciting historical details, rich characters, and action-packed adventures will be drawn toThe Storm Before Atlanta. From the Hardcover edition.
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Based on Jeremy's reaction to the song, what can you infer (guess) about his motivation in wanting to join the army?
Did you know that the drummer boy helped communicate orders to soldiers? Read the short article below to learn more about the role Jeremy longs to have. (This annotation contains a link)
What does Dulcie not realize about the information she recited back to Miss Lottie?
How does Dulcie use her memory as a tool even after she is punished for reciting the lesson?
Notice how Jeremy's sense of self is changing. Keep track of how Jeremy's journey influences his thinking and actions.
This statement is an example of simile. A simile is a comparison that uses like or as to show similarities between unlike things. Can you find another example on this page? (This annotation contains a video)
Explain how this statement affects Jeremy's idea of the war and differs from what he looking for. Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Have you even stopped to think why an author would choose to tell a story a certain way? For this story, the author is using third person narration to share Jeremy's adventure. Point of view is an important aspect of how a story is told and developed.
How does the lieutenant's hesitation motivate Jeremy's response?
Notice how the sound of the drum stops all the soldiers. This detail tells readers a great deal about the reality of experiencing war. Jeremy is so focused on the idea of honor and dying heroically that he hasn't given any thought to what happens if he lives.
What key idea is being developed in Jeremy's motivation to enlist and the anticipated reaction from the folks back home?
Which of the following illustrates a change in tone regarding life as a soldier?
The Fugitive Slave Act forced free or captured runaway slaves to be returned to their masters. Click the play button on the video to learn more. (This annotation contains a video)
Use the Define feature and look up the meaning of sallow. Based on the definition, which of the following is an antonym (meaning the opposite) of the word sallow?
Notice Jeremy's struggle with expectation and reality. He wants honor and respect, yet the group treats him with neither. Keep track of how this idea evolves.
The split Lars refers to occurred before the war started in protest of Abraham Lincoln's opposition of slavery. Southern states that disagreed with Lincoln removed themselves from the United States to form the Confederate States of America. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you conclude about Jeremy's idea of honor based on his reaction to Seth's injury?
Explain how Dulcie's perspective adds depth to the story and gives the reader more information about the war. Use textual evidence to support your response.
Compared to Jeremy, Mas'r has the complete opposite reaction to enlisting. What else would they disagree on?
How does the use of our in this statement further illustrate Dulcie's point about the meaning of "our"?
Similar to Missus serving them tea, the soldiers must still maintain a level of hospitality and respect even though they are trying to steal the horse.
What is the tipping point for Dulcie in her decision to leave the room and walk away from the farm?
Jeremy is still looking for approval and is unable to enjoy himself because he is trying too hard to make his point.
Jeremy's messmates don't want him hanging around because he _________.
The elephant also symbolizes death, fear and the experience of war. The change the boys are talking about comes in experiencing those things. (This annotation contains a video)
The skull illustrates that sides don't matter once you are dead. Notice how Jeremy reacts to the skull and Charlie's response.
Explain how meeting Charlie will influence Jeremy's perspective of the war. Use text evidence to support your response.
How is Jeremy's expectation of life as a drummer boy different from the actual experience?
Dulcie's decision to runaway is already a risky and dangerous pursuit, adding soldiers and guns into the mix makes her journey terrifying. Note that this doesn't stop Dulcie but helps her move forward.
What can you conclude about the solider's opinion of Dulcie based on his reaction to her presence?
The first thing Dulcie notices about Nahum were his eyes. Like Dulcie, he is able to take in information and remember it.
Why does Nahum react this way to Dulcie?
Notice the shift in Jeremy's feelings about his position. Keep track of how this evolves.
Use the Define feature and look up the meaning of billet. What message was Dave trying to deliver?
What lesson does Jeremy learn from watching No-Joke begin to sing and how the men react?
Chapters 1-8 Quiz
Do you think Jeremy is going to notice Dulcie hitting the water? How do you think their stories are going to intertwine?
What has Charlie provided that Jeremy has been so desperate to acquire?
This might create conflict for Charlie and Jeremy. The boys have allowed themselves to become friendly, but adding Dulcie to the mix might disrupt the peace.
Not only has Jeremy vocalized his view of slavery but he also relates the idea to his own experience with Old Silas. In doing so, he strengthens his motivation to help Dulcie escape.
"She wiped her nose on her sleeve and scowled up at both of them with eyes sharp as bayonet points" is an example of which figurative device?
Notice that Jeremy categorizes Dulcie as a polite Southerner and not as a slave.
Compare Jeremy's expectation of the effect Dulcie would have on his life at camp to how the pair were received by the men. Use textual evidence to support your response.
Notice how the captain's intended meaning and Dulcie's understanding differ.
How does Dulcie's examination of language help illustrate her acceptance of becoming free?
How is Dulcie's reaction to Dr. Flood's questions related to her life as a slave?
This statement gives the reader a sense of hope as Dr. Flood treats Dulcie kindly and with a smile.
How does this statement relate back to Jeremy's first encounter with Charlie?
Can you visualize the chaos of the scene? Notice how the imagery used in this sentence brings the smells and sounds of war to life. The added description helps the reader better understand the character's experience.
A whetstone is used to sharpen knives or blades. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you conclude about the reason Lars is not interested in listening to Jeremy explain why the tools need to be sharpened?
Use the Define feature to look up the meaning of desertion. Based on the definition and what you know of Jeremy, why is the idea of running away more terrifying than staying to fight?
Can you seen the connection between Jeremy's desire to see battle and Dulcie's experience as a slave? Dulcie has experienced the fear and violence Jeremy is pushing himself to witness.
Which of the following is not an example of imagery?
Notice how Jeremy is unable to keep his composure when the cannonball crashes into the tree. This scene reminds readers (and maybe Jeremy himself) of the power of fear.
Describe Jeremy's first experience in battle and his realization that it is not like the Drummer Boy of Shiloh.
The Emancipation Proclamation changed why the Civil War was fought. Issued by Abraham Lincoln, this document marked the official ending of slavery. (This annotation contains a video)
Dulcie's first taste of freedom is also paired with a lesson in life and death. Bill tells Dulcie she shouldn't waste her time on soldiers who cannot be saved. For Dulcie, the idea seems absurd. Keep track of how her thinking changes as the battle continues.
What can you conclude about the different way Bill and Dulcie react to the wounded soldiers?
Dulcie is growing more confident and sure of herself. Notice how her role in the camp is helping her trust her instincts and follow her heart.
What bigger theme does this statement reflect? How does it connect to Dulcie's pursuit of freedom?
Which of the following words would also work in this sentence: "The Rebs have ______."
Keep a close eye on how Jeremy is influenced by this event and the idea that not all soldiers are honorable.
How do you think Jeremy's friendship with Charlie will influence his motivation to join the battle? If Jeremy is stopping to think about how Charlie is being treated, do you think he will begin to wonder why he is taking part in the fighting?
Elaborate on the reason Dulcie looks different. Use textual evidence to support your response.
Jeremy needs Charlie to say he wouldn't kill a prisoner to ease the doubt and hesitation he is feeling. Charlie reinforces Jeremy's values by saying this.
How does the point of view in which the story is being told help the reader learn more about Jeremy?
This observation may be a turning point for Jeremy. If he can be more like Charlie, Jeremy may be able to survive his messmates teasing him and learn to not take things personally.
What can you conclude about Jeremy's reaction to the woman and his idea that stealing and foraging are different?
This is a big decision for Jeremy to make. He is risking his honor as a soldier to help Dulcie. Do you think he is doing the right thing, even though he is breaking the rules?
Why does Dulcie's reaction prompt Jeremy this think she doesn't like the dress?
Compare Dulcie's observation of Charlie to Jeremy's perception. Explain what motivates their different reactions to Charlie's constant smile.
Are you surprised that Dulcie is able to see and understand Jeremy's lack of experience? Her perception of Jeremy is accurate and makes her wary of his vulnerability.
Notice how this sentence grabs at your senses. Instead of just hearing the gunfire, you can actually feel the sound as it is amplified by fear.
How will Dulcie and Charlie's argument and their need to be heard by Jeremy influence Jeremy's view of the war and slavery?
The image below shows what Jeremy's vision might have looked like. (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how Jeremy's interactions with Dulcie and his internal struggle with slavery could create conflict with Charlie. Use textual evidence to support your response.
Notice how Charlie is not treating Dulcie like an equal. He does not use her name and excludes her from conversations. How is his attitude towards Dulcie different from Jeremy's?
Jeremy assumes the best in Charlie although he does not have evidence to support his trust. How does this contribute to Jeremy's reaction after being caught?
What can you conclude about the two Rebs based on Jeremy's observation?
Charlie is revealing secret codes to the two Rebs to prove that he is on their side.
Chapters 9-16 Quiz
Notice the connection between what Missus is saying and what Dulcie is observing. What do you notice about the contrast between what is being said and what is actually happening?
Explain how Dulcie has responded to freedom and how it influences her interaction with Missus. Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Based on Duclie's description, what can you conclude about why Missus hates Anne?
This is a huge transition for Charlie. Dulcie's story has affected him more than he can comprehend. Do you think Charlie is a static or dynamic character? (This annotation contains a video)
Explain how Jeremy's realization is helping him challenge his own views and develop a richer understanding of how the world works. Use textual evidence to support your response.
Do you think Jeremy will change his mind about wanting to die nobly in battle? He has not experienced a scene like that of the Drummer Boy of Shiloh and may find out that it doesn't really exist.
Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States in 2008. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President and was in office during the Civil War. (This annotation contains an image)
"The shells screamed overhead" is a great example of personification. (This annotation contains a video)
How is Jeremy's focus on following orders becoming an oppositional force and negatively influencing his decision making?
What does Jeremy realize about the reality of battle and the nature of death?
Jeremy has seen the elephant and his attention to following orders and maintaining honor is becoming less important as a result.
Explain how focusing on word choice develops Dulcie's sense of self and awareness of her freedom. Use textual evidence to support your response.
Dulcie's friendship with Jeremy is important in a lot of ways. Jeremy provides Dulcie with a foundation of what it feels like to be treated as an equal and Dulcie helps Jeremy think about the world around them.
A tintype photograph is an early version of how photos were able to be shared. (This annotation contains an image)
How is Jeremy's disinterest in helping strangers related to his realization that the Drummer Boy of Shiloh is not real?
Keep in mind that these soldiers are being operated on in a tent, with everyday tools, and with none of the medical advancements that exist today. Dulcie's job is to give the soldiers enough chloroform to pass out before the amputation. If she gives the solider too much he might not wake up.
How is Dulcie's experience helping the doctors building her self-confidence as a free woman?
What has Dulcie just revealed about No-Joke?
Notice the change in Jeremy's feelings about the elephant. His experiences are overpowering his ideals and assumptions about war.
Explain how Jeremy's assumptions about the roles of women are challenged and influenced by his interactions with No-Joke and Dulcie.
Jeremy is still basing his thinking on the songs he admired before the war. Notice how different his view of Charlie is after the battle compared to Jeremy's simple view of shooting a gun. Do you think he will make the connection that the songs exist to cheer the soldiers, not to tell true stories?
What is Jeremy realizing about the nature of war through his friendship with Charlie?
On what other occasion has Jeremy struggled with saying the right thing in order to maintain his honor but chose not to?
How does this statement relate to Jeremy's friendship with both Dulcie and Charlie? The three of them represent how this statement can be stretched into a new truth.
Charlie has changed since his first interaction with Jeremy. What role do you think Dulcie has played in Charlie's view of the war and why he was fighting in it?
How does this statement connect to Charlie's thoughts on why the war is being fought? Why can't Charlie stand with the South and believe in what he is fighting for? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Jeremy doesn't notice the small details because he has never before been in a situation where he needs to be suspicious of everyone.
What are the consequences of Jeremy's decision to trust Charlie instead of his instincts?
Jeremy is reading a cartoon that is making a joke of all the free slaves entering the northern states. Although Jeremy tries to tell Dulcie that it is meant to be funny, the topic is not a joke for her.
How does Jeremy's desire for the war to be over reveal the effect his experience has had his motivation to be part of the war? Use textual evidence to support your response.
What challenge does Jeremy face with the arrival of the letter from Lars?
This is a huge turning point in Jeremy's thinking. Not only is he realizing that it was silly to want to die in battle, but he is also thinking of better things a person could do with their life.
Explain why seeing Nicholas playing cards with the Reb makes Jeremy feel less guilty about befriending Charlie.
What do you notice about how the author presents Seth to the reader? Dulcie is experienced enough to notice he is sneaking around and connect the missing morphine to him. Keep track of how this plays out for both characters.
Talking with Dave validates Jeremy's motivation to enlist. How do you think this conversation will impact Jeremy in the long run?
Explain the impact Dave has on Jeremy and how their conversation challenges Jeremy's sense of purpose. Why is it important that Jeremy realizes this about himself? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Ambrose Bierce is a famed American writer best known for his short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." (This annotation contains an image)
Do you think Jeremy's decision to speak up is a good or bad thing? Explain your answer.
What can you conclude about Charlie based on his reaction to Dulcie saying he is not a good man?
Jeremy faces conflict interacting with the people around him and also with his own thinking. Throughout the novel Jeremy has challenged his mindset as he gains more experience. These challenges represent both internal and external conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
Charlie's smile is a huge part of his disguise. Not only does Charlie distract people with his smile, but he also hides behind it. Think back to when Jeremy first met Charlie. How did Charlie use his smile to convince Jeremy that he was friendly?
In what ways are Charlie and Jeremy alike in how they find their identify in being part of the war?
Notice the effect of word choice in this sentence. What do you envision when you read the word bald? Now apply that image to how Dulcie is saying, "Better for him if he don't." Can you hear her tone?
How does Jeremy's quick change in opinion tie back to his view of honor?
Why do you think Dulcie is questioning Charlie so persistently? How does this connect to her dislike of him?
Notice how the combination of each point of view creates tension and urges the reader to stop and think. Each character is presenting separate reactions to the same idea. Keep track of how the truth is revealed.
Charlie remembered Dulcie for her sharp eyes and, in turn, she was able to see the truth about him.
Use the Define feature and look up the meaning of vindicated. How does this term illustrate the satisfaction Dulcie has in hearing Charlie tell the truth? Why is this moment important to her?
What questions would you ask Dulcie about her views of Charlie and Jeremy?
Charlie is not only thanking Dulcie, but he is also using her name. Think back to when he only referred to her as "girl" or "her."
How has Aunt Betsy used her position doing laundry for the Sesch army for the advantage of her family?
Jeremy is legally tied to Old Silas and must work to earn his freedom. Hopefully being a Union soldier is enough to maintain his freedom.
The novel is now over, but read on for historical information about the setting.
Chapters 17-25 Quiz