Diamonds in the Shadow
THE FINCH FAMILY did not know that five refugees landed from Africa on the day they went to the airport to welcome the family sponsored by their church. The Finch family only knew about the four refugees they were meeting - Andre, Celestine, Mattu, and Alake - mother, father, teenage son and daughter. Soon Jared realizes that the good guys are not always innocent, and he must make a decision that could change the fate of both families. This story presents many points of view and a fresh perspective on doing the right thing.
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Based on his thoughts and actions so far, what kind of character does Jared seem to be?
A felon is a person who has been convicted of a felony. In other words, a court of law has found him or her guilty of a serious crime, such as murder or burglary.
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. Use this feature to look up the word "foisted" and select the best synonym for it below.
This book is narrated in third person limited point of view. Watch the video below for an explanation of this perspective. (This annotation contains a video)
A story's point of view can influence its accuracy. Since the point of view is limited to Jared's thoughts at this point, it may not reflect the truth. Jared thinks that "no kid would do that," but he is wrong. Child soldiers are a real problem in Africa where warlords force children to commit crimes for them.
Do you think it is interesting that Jared is the only person at the meeting who says he does not care about the refugees, yet he is the only person bothering to learn about them?
What do we know about the Finch family at this point in the book?
The Finches live in a fictional town in southern Connecticut, somewhere between New London and New Haven. These cities are close enough to New York City that they are considered suburbs. The map below shows New York City encircled in red with lines branching out to some of the most common commuter destinations. (This annotation contains an image)
Which word best describes Jared's relationship with his parents?
The point of view has now switched to reveal Mopsy's thoughts. It is limited to Mopsy's perspective. In this book, the black diamond shapes (like you might see on this page) often indicate a change in the point of view.
Based on the highlighted segment what can we tell about the fifth refugee?
A machete is a large, dangerous knife. (This annotation contains an image)
Whose point of view is revealed through the narration at this point?
List three facts about the Amabos that are unusual or worrisome.
The perspective is now limited to Victor's point of view. Victor's inability to imagine a situation with a woman in control reflects his cultural and personal background. He comes from a background in which men were dominant and women played a secondary role.
What type of figurative language does the highlighted sentence contain?
Caroline B. Cooney uses figurative language throughout this book. Two common types of figurative language are metaphors and similes. Watch the video below for an explanation of these two literary terms. (This annotation contains a video)
English is actually the official language in several African countries. The pink countries in the map below all use English along with tribal languages. (This annotation contains an image)
What seems to be the relationship between Victor and the Amabos? Support your answer with examples from the text.
Notice that Jared seems more perceptive than his mother. Based on what we learned from Mattu's point of view, Jared's belief that the Amabos are afraid seems more accurate than his mother's belief that they need a restroom.
What emotion is Jared feeling when he thinks, "How American"?
As the Finches and Amabos come together, they reveal many stereotypes. A stereotype is a simplified belief about an entire group of people. Stereotypes assume that all people within specific groups share certain characteristics. Here, Mopsy assumes that because Alake lives in Africa, she must have seen elephants, lions, and hippos. In reality, Africa is a large continent with many different climates, environments, and animals.
What does Jared seem to be learning through each new interaction with the Amabos?
In whose point of view is the highlighted section narrated?
We're getting a complicated picture of the church the Finches attend. Clearly the church has struggled with scandals and problems. At the same time, the church members are also going out of their way to help refugees. Like most things in life, the members of this church are imperfect; they are not completely good, nor are they completely bad.
This is a clue to Jared's age. Since he is frustrated that his parents won't let him drive, he must be of driving age - at least fifteen or sixteen years old.
This is another stereotype. The idea that Americans can't stand anything ugly is a generalization. Do you think this stereotype is true? Explain.
Why does Mopsy want to be called Martha?
Jared insists that he does not want to help the refugees. Which action below seems to contradict this? In other words, which action shows that he does care.
List three unusual things about the way the Amabo family treats Alake.
The story keeps flipping between life with the Finches and Amabos and life with Victor. Though the characters are in different places, their stories are happening at the same time. These two stories are called parallel plots. The video below explains parallel plots in more detail. (This annotation contains a video)
What effect do the parallel plots have on the story?
How might Jared's and Mattu's backgrounds influence their attitudes toward school?
What does Jared's decision to give Mopsy her cell phone reveal?
What character qualities does Mopsy reveal through her treatment of Alake?
Click on the link below to view of map of Africa. You will see Sierra Leone and its neighbor, Liberia. Scroll out a little to find Nigeria to the East. (This annotation has embedded rich content)
This section includes a flashback from Alake's past. Watch the video below for an explanation of flashbacks. (This annotation contains a video)
What happened in Alake's past? How has this affected her behavior in the present?
Based on the context, what does Jared mean by the word cold when he says, "No, I am cold"?
Perhaps Jared was trying to avoid a stereotype. He did not want to assume Daniel and Mattu had anything in common just because they shared the same skin color.
What does the behavior of the Amabos family in the grocery store reveal?
The word "insightful" is used to describe someone who has a clear understanding of a hidden truth. Explain why we can say that Mopsy is more insightful than Jared about their father's feelings.
At the beginning of the book, Jared seemed selfish and did not want to help the refugees. Which line below indicates that his attitude is beginning to change?
Mrs. Finch believes that personalizing the civil war in Sierra Leone and Liberia will make Americans take notice of it. This means that publishing pictures of actual people, like the Amabos, will help Americans realize that the civil war affects real people. Do you think photographs can personalize a problem? Click on the next two annotations to test Mrs. Finch's theory.
Image A: This image is intended to inspire people to rescue children who have been forced to become soldiers. (This annotation contains an image)
Image B: This image is also intended to inspire people to rescue child soldiers. (This annotation contains an image)
Which image did you find more powerful: Image A or Image B? Does your answer prove or disprove Mrs. Finch's theory?
Which word below is a synonym for "ghastly"? Use the dictionary feature if you need help.
All of the characters in this book have to face new and difficult situations. As we read about their actions in these situations, some themes emerge, such as bravery in the face of difficulty. Watch the video below and then consider what other themes seem to be emerging in this book. (This annotation contains a video)
What mood does this brief bit of parallel plot create?
Hotels fold the toilet paper into a V to make it look neater and more appealing to guests. (This annotation contains an image)
In this chapter, Mattu tries to save food that Jared believes is rotten. Jared's and Mattu's different approaches to food are mostly likely due to
Below is an example of a breakwater jutting out into the ocean. (This annotation contains an image)
Jared believes all of the following are unusual except
What feelings prevent Alake from living her life in the present?
Notice the increasing number of conflicts in the story. The Finches have to deal with the problems that the Amabos bring them, Victor has to figure out how to get back to New York City, and now the church committee is arguing about how to deal with the Amabos'. As the conflicts increase, we say the plot is in the rising action stage. This is the stage where the complications and tension increase, leading up to the climax of the story. (This annotation contains an image)
Here is more evidence that Jared is changing.
What do you think? If lying to get into America was okay in the past, is it okay today?
Which word below is the best antonym (opposite) for "spellbound"?
The author's use of italics is meant to emphasize this line. Why do you think this line gets special emphasis?
What important character change does the haircut incident reveal in Alake?
Throughout this book Jared has accused himself of being annoying, selfish, and racist, yet Andre tells him he is a "good son." Do you think Jared has an accurate idea of his own character? Provide reasons for your answer.
Below are some rough diamonds. (This annotation contains an image)
Some important changes have been taking place in the characters. Watch the video below to learn about static and dynamic characters. (This annotation contains a video)
The fact that Jared has now accepted the refugees as family members means that he is
This look, which seemed to indicate a desire for a blanket, is one of Alake's first few signs of communication.
What do Alake's hands symbolize to her?
The difference between the terms "blood diamonds" and "conflict diamonds" is a matter of connotation. A connotation is the emotional meaning of a word. The word "blood" brings with it much more intense emotions than the word "conflict." This makes the term "blood diamonds" more troubling than "conflict diamonds."
This question reflects Mattu's cultural perspective. Since he has never seen a snowman before, he can only compare it to large statues in his own culture, which might have been built for religious purposes.
What seems to be the biggest source of stress in Mr. Finch's life?
What is the connotation of the word "dramatic"? (Remember, the connotation is the emotional meaning of a word, not the literal definition.)
The poem Alake enjoys is one by Robert Frost called "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening." You can read the full text at the blue link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Wanting something more is a good sign. Alake may be ready for change sometime soon.
Alake is not literally a thousand years old. She is speaking metaphorically. What does she mean by describing herself in this way?
Why might Mrs. Dowling's post create a future conflict?
Why doesn't Mattu say what he is thinking when Daniel's mother asks him what he likes best?
The word "pets" has a negative connotation here. It suggests that Kara is treating the Amabos as inferiors, that she sees them as less than human and tries to control them like people control their pets.
Why do the other Amabos ignore Alake?
Study the picture below to learn the meaning of foreshadowing. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the highlighted sentence foreshadow? Use the dictionary feature to look up the word "fatal" if you are not sure of its meaning.
Watch the video below to learn about the genre of "Diamonds in the Shadow." (This annotation contains a video)
How can we tell this story is realistic fiction?
It turns out George Neville was the person at the door.
What does Alake's ability to communicate suggest about her emotional state?
Can you guess who killed the refugee supervisor?
By comparing Tay's email to the Magi's treasures, what is the narrator suggesting?
This comparison makes a reference to the story in the bible about the birth of Jesus. In the story, three magi, sometimes called kings or wise men, come to visit Jesus just after he is born. They bring him gifts and kneel before him because they believe that he was sent from God. (This annotation contains an image)
What important change has taken place in Alake?
Although Jared and Mopsy have suspected that Celestine is not Alake's mother, we now know for sure that she is not. Alake reveals here that she does not know what her mother looked like.
Love is a powerful medicine. Mopsy's love and care help Alake learn to communicate again. Now the puppy's love helps open Alake's heart up even more.
Despite his jacket and hat, Mattu feels cold when Celestine mentions Victor. What makes him cold?
The story's secrets have now been revealed to the readers. Why did Victor need a family to travel with him to America?
Do you agree with Jared? Was taking the diamond as bad as taking the church's money? Give reasons for your answer.
According to Mattu, how does America differ from Africa?
Watch the video below on Liberian child soldiers trying to return to normal life after fighting. You will have to click through to YouTube to view the video. (This annotation contains a video)
Describe two similarities between Alake's experience and the experiences of the child soldiers shown in the video.
Kirk Crick does not arrive with an actual weapon. What kind of figurative language is used in the highlighted sentence?
By emphasizing the way American attitudes differ from African attitudes, what theme of the novel does this selection relate to?
Mopsy is not saying that America is associated with puppies. She is implying that America is associated with happiness, hope, and wish fulfillment.
In what way is Jared acting more like a parent than his father?
Based on Alake's thoughts here, what can we infer she will do next?
In 1999, the American singer Bruce Springsteen wrote a song called "Land of Hope and Dreams." Click on the link below and read the lyrics to the song. (This annotation contains a link)
How does Springsteen's song relate to the Amabos' vision of America? Explain your answer with reference to the story.
What does Jopsy represent to Alake?
The parallel plots are coming together. As the conflicts increase, so does the tension. Characters will soon be colliding, resulting in the climax, or turning point, of the story. (This annotation contains an image)
What worries Mopsy most about Alake's future?
Mattu's belief that Americans are "so full of themselves" is an example of
Just as the Finches have an inaccurate picture of Africa, Mattu has an inaccurate picture of America. Mattu believes that Americans are incapable both of committing evil and of imagining evil. Do you think this is true?
When Alake imagines that Victor's sponsors gave him a beautiful car, she says he is "turning into Mopsy." How does Alake differ from Mopsy?
How selfless! Even in the midst of danger, Mopsy is worried for Alake's safety.
We have reached a turning point in the novel, the point of highest tension. This is called the
Do you think Jared has a right to be angry at Mattu?
If Jared is skeptical, it means he
Perhaps Mopsy isn't as young and foolish as she believes. After all, she figures out that Victor will not let her live. She recognizes the frightening truth.
How does Alake try to atone for her sins of the past?
Daniel is telling Mattu that he should lie to the police to keep himself safe. What do you think Mattu might want to lie about?
Like Jared, Mopsy, and Alake, Mattu is a dynamic character. What change has taken place in Mattu regarding his relationship with Alake?
A postmark is the stamp the post office puts on each envelope that goes through the mail. A postmark marks the city, state and/or zip code of the mailing location along with the date it was mailed. If Mattu mailed the package from his new hometown, the authorities could easily connect him to the diamonds. (This annotation contains an image)
What theme of this book does the highlighted text most closely relate to?
What does Jared's use of the name "Martha" suggest?
Read on for a note from the author.