After the First Death

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Who will be the next to die? They've taken the children. And the son of a general. But that isn't enough. More horrors must come...
Curriculet Details
61 Questions
60 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 9th and 10th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining relevant political and historical allusions, connecting to related literature, and explaining the effect of the author's structural choices on the novel. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about relevant literary terms. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the themes of patriotism, guilt, and perspective. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Part 1

In literature, the point of view shapes the reader's understanding of the characters and the events of the plot. This book makes use of multiple types of narration, which are defined in the video below. As you read, notice how each narrator adds a dimension to the story which would not be possible with only one narrator. (This annotation contains a video)
From the context of this chapter, we can infer that "the Bus and the Bridge" is which of the following? 
Ben often uses metaphors or similes when he speaks. The video below defines these two concepts. What is revealed about Ben when he says he feels as if the world is absorbing him like an ink blotter? (This annotation contains a video)
In these two similes, the "festering wound" and the "diseased rabbit" represent Ben's memories of the past. Which of the following best explains the idea Ben's words convey? 
Which of the following statements is not true about Ben's narration style? 
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? 
Do these lines strike you as odd? It's very rare for a narrator to address the reader directly; this is called "breaking the fourth wall" and it is not a technique usually found in novels. Keep these lines in mind; they'll become important later in the book. 

Part 2

Chapter 2 is narrated from which of the following points of view? 
Characterization refers to the way an author brings a character to life. By presenting details about a character's appearance, speech, thoughts, or how other characters respond to him or her, an author is able to slowly reveal and develop the character's personality. What do we learn about Artkin from the descriptions in this chapter? 
Which of the following do Ben and Miro have in common? 
Which of the following adjectives does not accurately describe Artkin? 
Notice how author Robert Cormier contrasts the mundane aspects of everyday life with the anticipation of the violent events we have been told are coming. What is the effect of doing this? 
"After the First Death" was published in 1979. Although Times Square is a major tourist attraction today, in the 1970s it was known as one of the worst blocks in Manhattan, famous for its pornographic theaters and run-down buildings. On average in the 70s, 2000 crimes a year happened in Times Square. (This annotation contains an image)
Compared to Artkin, Miro is 
While the point of view is still third person limited, we've now switched to see the plot from the perspective of a third character: Kate. Notice how seeing things from her perspective is going to vary from how Miro viewed and understood the same events. 
Because we have seen Artkin through Miro's point of view as well, Kate's evaluation of his character can be described as which of the following? 
How does Cormier's choice to switch from Miro's point of view to Kate's point of view create tension during this section of the narrative? 
The image below depicts a railroad bridge similar to the one described in this scene. (This annotation contains an image)
The title of this novel is a reference to the poem by Dylan Thomas which is linked below. The title can also be taken literally. Notice that the first death is not what Miro and Artkin had planned, and that the direction of their plan has now shifted. Keep this in mind as you begin looking for themes. (This annotation contains a link)
How does Miro feel about Artkin's decision to spare Kate, instead of having Miro kill her as planned? 
How does the symbolism of Miro's mask in this novel compare to Dunbar's symbolism in his poem? 
Masks are frequently used as symbols in literature, such as in the poem by Paul Lawrence Dunbar linked below. Read the poem and use it to answer the next question. (This annotation contains a link)
How does Kate's interpretation of the masks compare to Miro's interpretation? 

Part 3

Which of the following statements about Chapter 3 is most accurate? 
Military bases in the United States vary in size, but some of them are large enough that they provide all the amenities one would find in a typical city: schools, libraries, fitness centers, post offices, and even restaurants. (This annotation contains an image)
The incident with Nettie Halversham helps to characterize Ben as 
Ben's comments about his father are examples of foreshadowing, a concept defined in the video below. Make a prediction. What do you think is the source of the tension between the two? (This annotation contains a video)
Using specific details from the text, describe the relationship between Ben and his father. 

Part 4

Miro's home county is never specifically identified in this book, but passages such as this give us a glimpse at what his life was like prior to coming to America. 
Describe how this flashback adds to your understanding of Miro's character. 
Up to this point in the novel, the kids have been a nameless group. From a storytelling standpoint, what is the effect on the reader of giving the children names and individual personalities? 
Which of the following is an example of something which the reader knows, but Miro does not, because of the shift in point of view in this chapter? 
In Chapter 2, Robert Cormier wrote this about Miro: "Without the mask, he was Miro Shantas, freedom fighter. He often wondered which person he really was." 
Explain the following statement: like Miro, Kate also wears a mask. 
One theme of this book has to do with how the same events can seem very different when viewed from different perspectives. How does this statement reinforce that theme? 
Why is Miro concerned? 
Although Artkin is an evil character, he has an acute understanding of the role of the media during tragic situations. Think of modern events which mirror the plot of this book. Why does Artkin say, "We must have a beginning"? 
How does Kate's language (such as saying Artkin handled the child "like a slab of meat") help to characterize Artkin differently than Miro's language does? 
In this line, the children are described using 
Part One Quiz 

Part 5

A six gun is a revolver with six cartridges. They are usually associated with shootouts in cowboy films taking place in the Old West. What is Ben implying about his meetings with his father by referring to them as six guns? (This annotation contains an image)
In this line, Ben is alluding to Salvador Dali's painting "The Persistence of Memory," which can be seen below. (This annotation contains an image)
Use specifics from the text to characterize Ben's father. 
In some places, Ben comments on the fact that he uses asterisks to denote the passage of time. How are the asterisks used here? 
Miro's point of view gives insight into the hijackers and why they commit the acts they do; Kate's point of view shows the terror the hijackers wreak. Ben's point of view, on the other hand, gives a wider perspective by providing the exposition behind why they attack occurs in the first place. 
One theme in the novel has to do with how humans, even those with seemingly dissimilar points of view and life situations, have many things in common. Who else asked this question earlier in the novel? 
Ben and his father help develop which of the following themes in the novel? 
Use the Define tool to look up absolution. Why does Ben seek absolution? 
Catholic confession takes place when an individual expresses his sins to a priest, and in return receives a penance and is cleared of his guilt. Make a prediction about Ben's role in "the Bus and the Bridge." 

Part 6

Miro thinks that Kate's attempts to defy Artkin are 
Identity is an important theme in this book. Theme is defined in the video below. Miro and Kate have already explored the theme in relation to masks; Kate discusses a different aspect in these lines. (This annotation contains a video)
In 1984, a novel set in the dystopian future where "Big Brother" is always watching humans and recording their actions, author George Orwell satirically writes "Ignorance is strength." How does Orwell's sentiment relate to this line? 
This paragraph contains visual and auditory imagery, a concept defined in the video below. Use the descriptions in this paragraph to visualize the scene. (This annotation contains a video)
Kate's "weapon" is her 
Miro puts on his mask whenever he feels embarrassed, weak, or compromised. What do we learn about Miro's character from the way he reacts to Kate and the children? 
Which of the following is the main effect of switching the point of view to third person limited in regards to Raymond? 
What quality is Miro emphasizing by saying his thoughts are like "wild birds flying"? 
The Boston Public Garden is a 24 acre park located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe how Miro's character is beginning to change, using specifics from this chapter for support. 
Miro's dedication to Artkin is a form of patriotism- he sees Artkin as a great man who is protecting the mission of their country. The advertisement below is an example of a "patriotic" German advertisement from World War II, which gives a positive depiction of Adolph Hitler. What parallels do you notice to Miro and Artkin's situation? (This annotation contains an image)
Use the Define tool to look up bravado. Which of the following is the closest to the definition? 
Emily Dickinson wrote about the power of hope in her poem "'Hope' is the thing with feathers," linked below. Read the poem and use it to answer the next question. (This annotation contains a link)
How does Kate's view of hope compare to Emily Dickinson's view in her poem? 
Miro's descriptions of his homeland are which of the following? 
Describe, using specific examples, how Kate attempts to gain Miro's trust. 
Miro and Aniel lived in refugee camps- areas built as temporary facilities for people who have been forced from their homes. Refugee camps usually vary in terms of their amenities; most concentrate more on providing food and water for their residents than education. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Miro embarrassed to tell Kate that he likes Elvis and the Bee Gees? 
A "freedom fighter" is a term used to describe a person who uses force to create political or social change. How does the aphorism, "One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist" apply to this novel? (This annotation contains an image)
Explain the following statement: Kate and Miro both think they are enlightened, and that the other one is ignorant. 
Propaganda is advertising or education meant to influence people's attitudes toward a particular point of view or idea. The slogans Miro recalls from his education are examples of propaganda. (This annotation contains an image)

Part 7

Ben's father's name is Mark.  Explain how Mark's explanation of patriotism is similar to Miro's beliefs. 
Because this novel is told out of chronological order, you can use information to make predictions about how the events unfolded. Sedeete is supposed to tell Artkin how the negotiations are going; if they do not hear from him, they are to assume negotiations failed. Make a prediction about how this new information will affect the outcome of the story. 
'Behavior intervention' and' behavior modification' are psychological terms; both refer to the idea of changing a person's behaviors by introducing a system of rewards or punishments. 
Which of the following is the best summary of Mark's feelings about Ben? 

Part 8

Being able to visualize a scene while reading helps with your comprehension, and also allows you to put yourself in the character's shoes more easily. To help you visualize Kate's situation, here is what she is looking at. (This annotation contains an image)
Thinking about her escape plan makes Kate feel which of the following? 
The simile in this line is meant to convey how _____ Miro watches Kate. 
The video below defines mood in literature. Notice how abruptly Cormier shifts the mood in the last sentence of this paragraph. He does this often with Miro, mirroring the character's conflicted attitude about his duty. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is not an emotion Miro experiences in regards to Kate? 
The video below defines symbolism. Monique's dream is symbolic for the overall hijacking situation. What does the giant stand for? What does Classie stand for? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is the best synonym for transparent, as the word is used here? 
Stream-of-consiousness is a form of narration in which an author presents a character's thoughts and feelings in a continuous fashion, without inserting description or dialogue. It attempts to imitate the way human beings truly think. Notice how Cormier takes the reader into Kate's mind as she makes crucial, split-second decisions which have humongous consequences. 
Kate has personified the bus - given it human characteristics. Why do you think she imagines the bus as if it were alive? 
All of the following details contribute to the suspenseful mood of this scene except 
Kate compares Artkin to a snake because he is 
Through her comparison of her situation to a jury, what conclusion is Kate drawing from Artkin and Miro's behavior toward her? 
Which of the following labels seems most appropriate for the relationship between Miro and Artkin: teacher-student, father-son, or some other label? Explain your choice. 
"Sibilant" means "sounding like a hiss." This is another example of Artkin being characterized as snake-like. 
The switching points of view in this novel make this question a central theme of the book. What is your opinion on this question?  
How has the relationship between Kate and Miro changed throughout this chapter? 
Have you notices how Miro consistently uses flower-related imagery when referring to Kate? What do you think Cormier is trying to convey about Miro's thoughts about Kate? 
Which of the following best describes Artkin? 
Which of the following is correct? 
Antibbe's death is by far the most violent scene in the narrative so far. How does the description in this paragraph contribute to the mood? 
At last, this line finally reveals how Ben will fit into the story of "the Bus and the Bridge." 
Which of the following is the most likely reason Artkin chooses Raymond? 
The video below defines the concepts of static and dynamic characters. Which type of character is Kate? Why? (This annotation contains a video)
The narration in these paragraphs can best be described as 
Part Two Quiz 

Part 9

Which of the following analogies best describes the way that Mark treats Ben? 
Mark recognizes that he may be sending his son into the lion's den. Do you agree with his decision? 
Explain the parallels between Artkin and Mark. 
Lexington and Concord are two towns approximately 20 miles west of Boston, Massachusetts. Known as the place where the "shot heard round the world" was fired, Lexington and Concord are the sites of the first battles of the American Revolution. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Ben agree to participate in his father's plan? 

Part 10

Have you noticed the similarities in the relationship between Mark and Ben and the one between Artkin and Miro? This passage makes the connection between Miro and Ben explicit. Think about what Cormier might be trying to do by creating these parallel characters. 
What does this line reveal? 
Remember that Mark can hear this conversation, although none of the characters in the van know this. This is called dramatic irony. Keep this fact in mind as you continue to read the chapter. 
Although its not clearly explained, "the fingers" is a method of torture meant to create an immense amount of pain and inspire Ben to share any information he has. 
Earlier in the novel, Ben talked about the guilt he felt about his role in "the Bus and the Bridge." In light of the new information in this chapter, make an inference about the source of his guilt. 
Ben feels that he has betrayed 
Keeping in mind information you learned earlier in the book, why do you think the soldiers begin the attack at 8:35, rather than 9:30? 
Read the poem linked below, "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death." Use the poem to answer the next question. (This annotation contains a link)
Which character- Miro or Artkin- has a point of view most similar to the one expressed in "An Irish Airman"? Explain your choice. 
Which of the following best describes Miro's "purpose," as he understands it? 
Which of the following is not a way in which Miro and Artkin's relationship mirrors Ben and Mark's relationship? 
What does switching to stream-of-consciousness narration add to this moment? 

Part 11

Fair warning: this chapter can be pretty confusing. Read closely, and remember that the italics text represents Ben's voice, while the regular text is Mark's voice. 
Confused yet? Keep these lines in mind- they reveal that the chapter is taking place in Mark's head. 
Through the actions of both Artkin and Mark, what theme is Robert Cormier suggesting about patriotism? 
Did you see this twist coming? Remember how Ben has been waiting for his father to visit "for the first time"? And how, during the conversation with Ben's mother, she "mistakenly" referred to him as Mark? Ben has been dead for the entire book- driven to suicide over his guilt from his cowardice. Mark, meanwhile, has been driven to a mental instituion by his guilt over his role in Ben's death. Ben "lives" in his father- Mark even typed up those pages from the beginning when Ben "emerged" from where Mark had buried him. 
Which of the following themes about guilt is most clearly demonstrated through the events of this novel? 

Part 12

Throughout the novel, each of the following characters feels guilt over his or her own actions except 
This line calls to mind the title of the book. If we take this as what the title refers to, why might Cormier have chosen "After the First Death" as the title? 
Part Three Quiz