Black Swan Green
By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas | Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize Selected by Time as One of the Ten Best Books of the Year | A New York Times Notable Book | Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post Book World, The Christian Science Monitor, Rocky Mountain News, and Kirkus Reviews | A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist | Winner of the ALA Alex Award | Finalist for the Costa Novel Award From award-winning writer David Mitchell comes a sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of the new. Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys’ games on a frozen lake; of “nightcreeping” through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigré who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason’s search to replace his dead grandfather’s irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher’s recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons. Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell’s subtlest and most effective achievement to date. Praise for Black Swan Green “[David Mitchell has created] one of the most endearing, smart, and funny young narrators ever to rise up from the pages of a novel. . . . The always fresh and brilliant writing will carry readers back to their own childhoods. . . . This enchanting novel makes us remember exactly what it was like.”—The Boston Globe “[David Mitchell is a] prodigiously daring and imaginative young writer. . . . As in the works of Thomas Pynchon and Herman Melville, one feels the roof of the narrative lifted off and oneself in thrall.”—Time “[A] brilliant new novel . . . In Jason, Mitchell creates an evocation yet authentically adolescent voice.”—The New York Times Book Review “Alternately nostalgic, funny and heartbreaking.”—The Washington Post “Great Britain’s Catcher in the Rye—and another triumph for one of the present age’s most interesting and accomplished novelists.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “This book is so entertainingly strange, so packed with activity, adventures, and diverting banter, that you only realize as the extraordinary novel concludes that the timid boy has grown before your eyes into a capable young man.”—Entertainment Weekly From the Hardcover edition.
The curriculet is being added to your library
If you read the table of contents, you will see that the first and last chapters have the same title. This indicates that the text takes place over one year in the narrator's life.
It is very important to use the DEFINE feature while reading this text. Many of the terms used may seem unfamiliar to you because they are British words or phrases. As a result, you may think you know what a term means, but you may be wrong. Instead highlight any unfamiliar words and click define.
According to the narrator, how someone refers to you indicates your
As you read, pay close attention to how the boys in the town treat one another. It is not very kind and in some instances boys bully other boys. Why do you think boys like Dean Moran aka "Moron" "laugh like [he thinks] it is funny" when he is chosen last and made fun of, even though it isn't?
The highlighted excerpt is an example of which literary device?
Click on the link below to review simile and metaphor. Use the information to answer the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the narrator's commentary and the interaction between he and the other boys, the "V-sign" implies ALL of the following except
Have you ever had an experience similar to the narrator's? What is so frightening about his interaction with the "sour aunt"?
What point is the narrator trying to make when he points out the irony of his and his parents' distaste for food?
Is the dynamic or relationship between Jason and his sister Julia typical? In what ways?
Do you think there is something unusual about the phone calls Jason's dad receives on his office phone? Use three pieces of textual evidence to support your response.
Click on the video below to review symbolism. Use the information to help you answer the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
The narrator puts on his grandfather's watch "to cheer [himself] up." What does the watch symbolize to the narrator?
What does the way that Squelch speaks suggest about his character?
The narrator has two different internal personas: Maggot and Unborn Twin. Jason is not insane; he alter egos represent elements of his character such as his insecurity and self-doubt.
The narrator believes the other boy skating may be a ghost. Which incident earlier in his day influenced this thought?
Consider the mood of the situation in the sour aunt's house. Do you think something terrible will happen to the narrator? Or do you think his reaction to the elderly woman exemplifies his youthful imagination? For a refresher about mood, tone, and how they differ, click on the link below. (This annotation contains a video)
When the narrator looks down at his grandfather's watch, he realizes it is smashed from the fall he took on the ice. All of the following terms describe his feelings when he realizes what he has done except
Though the narrator has no evidence to suggest that the elderly woman is dying, he genuinely believes she is perishing before his eyes. This helps to develop the narrator's character.
The title of this chapter is "Hangman." This refers to the narrator's stammer. This element of his character is taken directly from the author's life: he has a stammer. Click on the link below to read an essay written by the author about his experience growing up with a stammer. Click on the link "Becoming a Non-Stammering Stammerer" to access the essay. (This annotation contains a link)
The highlighted statement is an example of a simile. What does it reveal about the difference between a stutter and a stammer?
The narrator uses ____________ when he describes his stammer as "Hangman." This illustrates how he views his stammer as an enemy that he must outwit and defeat.
When Jason sees a girl in a wheelchair whose leg is missing, he wonders if she would gladly switch ailments with him. He then wonders "if being happy's about other people's misery." This is an important thought and illustrates the emerging themes of bullying and power and appearance and reality. (This annotation contains a video)
Compare and contrast Mrs. de Roo to Jason's parents. Please define at least three similarities, differences. Use at least one piece of textual evidence to support each of your responses.
A metronome is a device used to keep time. Musicians often use it to keep the proper time in a score. Below is an image of a metronome. (This annotation contains an image)
Mrs. de Roo's prognosis for Jason's stammer is realistic: he will not be cured but taught to cope with his stammer. Which textual excerpt supports the conclusion that Jason is satisfied with this prognosis?
Often the narrator give you clues about past events. This highlighted excerpt explains the scene where the narrator was skating on the pond in the previous chapter.
Why does Julia lie to her parents about her phone call?
As you read, note what triggers "Hangman" to inhibit the narrator's speech and cause a stammer. Does it reflect elements of the narrator's character, or it is triggered by external forces?
At breakfast, Jason's internal persona "Unborn Twin" hisses, "I should've been born, not you, you cow." In this scene, which element of his character does the twin symbolize?
Is where you sit on the bus indicative of your social status? If a student misbehaved on the bus, would your driver react similarly to Norman Bates?
How are adults like Mr. Kempsey and Norman Bates similar?
It is important to know the difference between verbal, situational, and dramatic irony. To review the three types, please click on the link below. The storyboards that illustrate the terms with examples from literature are most helpful. (This annotation contains a video)
When Gary Drake raises his hand to ask why Jason isn't reading, his tone implies he is sincere, but he isn't. Instead he is trying to draw attention to Jason's stammer. This is an example of
The male adults in the text differ from the female adults. The men and boys are often portrayed as having more faults and more violent. The majority of the women are characterized as intellectual and understanding. The contrasts illustrate the motifs of masculinity and femininity. To review motif, please click on the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
The dynamic between Jason's dad and his Uncle Brian seems to be friendly, but there is animosity and a competitive spirit between them. As you read, consider what the dialogue between the men reveals about their characters.
How does Uncle Brian react to Michael's advice about which route to take?
The dynamic between Uncle Brian and Jason's father illustrates the motif of masculinity. Both of the men are flawed. Which theme(s) do you think this helps to develop?
Why does Uncle Brian insist on mentioning that he and his family vacationed in Italy last year?
The narrator does not want his mother to mention the poetry prize because he is afraid of how he will be perceived by his family. This illustrates the theme of appearance or perception and reality. It also illustrates the theme of identity.
Though Julia refers to Jason as "Thing" and behaves as if he is a bother to have around, she defends him when his cousin tries to make a joke out of his poem. Based on this incident, you could characterize Julia as _______ to her brother.
Uncle Brian has many character flaws. In fact, there isn't much to like about his character. How is he similar to the other male figures in Jason's life? How does Uncle Brian try to demonstrate his power?
Why does Uncle Brian want Julia to attend Oxford as opposed to Edinburgh or Durham?
The narrator looks at his reflection in the mirror and scans his face "for signs of Hugo." What is he looking for?
The "phantom phone calls" are an important element in the plot that will be revisited later in the text. You may want to write down a couple of guesses as to what they are connected to.
When Aunt Alice suggests that Jason's mother go back to work, Jason's mother "did that single laugh people who don't want to laugh do." This suggests that
Carefully read the dialogue between Nigel and Hugo. Consider the tone Hugo uses with his brother. What does this dialogue reveal about Hugo? What does it illustrate about the theme of bullying and power?
Hugo mentions authors that Jason should read and states that if you don't read Orwell's journalism "you can't say you know Orwell." Is Hugo genuine? What impression is he trying to make on Jason? Use textual examples to support your response.
Based on the highlighted statement, why does Jason go along with Hugo's bet?
Hugo becomes popular with the other boys because he dominates a video game with ease. Is that the only reason the others accept him and don't make him a target for bullying?
Based on the previous events, why does Jason believe that if Hugo turns down the cigarette he would "damage the impression he'd made"?
Reread the dialogue between Hugo and Kate. Hugo believes he has a achieved a victory and made a positive impression on Kate. What is the other perspective you could view the dialogue from?
"Plebs" is short for plebeian. A plebeian is a commoner. What does Hugo's statement "Plebs smoke 'fags.' I smoke cigarettes" reveal about Hugo's character?
Hugo has no respect for Jason or anyone in his town because Hugo believes he is better than these people. This is evident by the terms he uses to refer to them. Aside from his father's economic status, has Hugo demonstrated to you that he is better than the boys in Black Swan Green? This illustrates the themes of bullying and power and perception versus reality.
What is Hugo implying about his father and his Uncle when he tells Jason, "If you don't kill 'Not Today' one day you'll wake up, look in the mirror, and see Uncle Brian and Uncle Michael!"
Do you like Hugo? Do you think he is trying to help Jason?
Jason's reaction to being home alone is best characterized as
Freemasons are also known as a fraternal order. In order to join the group, you must be initiated. There is much speculation about what the group really stands for and what type of influence they have. (This annotation contains an image)
The author develops the characterization of the narrator as a poet through the use of which literary device?
The narrator has a vivid imagination. Sometimes it gets the better of him. He believes that the dobermans are chasing him, but like the incident on the lake, it is all in his imagination.
The highlighted excerpt is important. It helps to illustrate the isolation the narrator feels. People in this town have lived here for generations, so Jason and his family are naturally outsiders. This is one of the reasons the author uses this village (a very traditional English setting) as the setting of the text.
The fight between Grant Burch and Ross Wilcox illustrates ALL of the following themes except
Violence is another motif in the text. The boys the narrator associates with use violence as a means of securing their social status or demoting someone else's status. Think about which themes this motif develops.
Do you think that Ross Wilcox is the winner of the fight? Why or why not?
Wayne and Ant purposefully ask Dean Moran about his father to shame him. This is another way to insure that Dean knows his social status.
We know that the narrator was not born in Black Swan Green, so he is an outsider in many regards. On the other hand, Dean knows most of the people (even the obscure ones) in Black Swan Green. What can you infer about Dean based on this knowledge?
Anxiety seems to be a trigger for Hangman. Do you think Jason is worried that Dean will think Jason is a baby for trying to find the tunnel?
What do Moran's questions reveal about his home life?
Unlike the other boys that Jason associates with, Moran is a friend. The two treat one other as equals rather than trying to use one another as a means to an end.
As you read, consider how Dawn is different than the other girls or women in the text.
Which term best characterizes Jason's feelings for Dawn?
The scene between Dawn and Jason is strange because it is flirtatious in a way, but in another way it is about power.
Why does Dawn threaten Jason to tell her stepfather that he tried to grope her?
Why do you think Jason is attracted to Dawn? She is not feminine; in fact she much more masculine than the other women in the text. She uses power and bullying to get what she wants, and she isn't opposed to threaten or tease violence.
Tom Yew is scheduled to deploy to fight in the Falklands War. What could Debby Crombie's concern about his safety foreshadow?
The author uses juxtaposition of the sexual act between Tom and Debby and Tom's dream in order to highlight how frightening Tom Yew's nightmare is. To review juxtaposition, please click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
One of the themes in this text is bullying. Do you agree with the highlighted statement? Or do you think that times have changed since 1982, and revenge or retribution may lead to more trouble for both parties involved? Use both textual evidence and current events to support your response.
Though Moran and Jason are friends, there are things that still embarrass Moran. But Jason does not capitalize on these things to better his own social status.
Which motif does the highlighted statement illustrate?
Jason and Moran's adventure resembles scenes from movies like "The Goonies" (seen below) or "Standby Me." These two films are similar to the text because they are all coming of age stories; the main characters go on a journey and learn something about themselves and life. In this case, Jason's journey is over the course of one year. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Rosemary's wail symbolize all the pain and suffering in Black Swan Green?
The Falklands War occurred between April 1982 and June 1982. To read more information about the brief but deadly engagement, click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
In what tone does Jason's father speak to his mother about the rockery?
Once again, the adults in the text are characterized as cruel or dismissive. Do you think their behavior is a result of the adults' experiences in their lives?
Jason's belief that people will never forget the Falklands War is evidence of his
There is a belief that if you want to become allies with someone, find a common enemy. Because Jason's parents are fighting, Julia and Jason are becoming closer and fighting less.
Based on their argument, what does Jason's mom suspect his father is doing?
The war is an important element in this year of Jason's life. Consider how the highlighted statement is a metaphor for surviving your teenage years as well as statement about the war.
How does the conversation between Jason's mother and Ewan illustrate the theme of appearance and reality?
Unlike some teenagers who are envious of their friends' wealth, Jason's envious of others' abilities to speak clearly. This is an internal conflict that Jason suffers from.
How do you know that Tom Yew may not be okay?
Almost every aspect of the boys' public life is about status and esteem. In this case, status will be granted to whomever receives the information about Tom Yew first.
Have you ever had an experience when an adult was upset in front of you? Did it make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?
Do you think author mirrors the war in Jason's life? Consider how Jason is warring with himself, how he is warring with his peers, and how his parents are warring against one another.
What does Jason's father's tone reveal about his feelings about Jason's mother's project?
Tom Yew's death leads to Jason's loss of interest in the war. It is as if his death makes the war and its impact too real for Jason. This helps to illustrate the theme of experience or loss of innocence.
Jason feels embarrassed because his dad is paying a classmate's dad to do work. What does this suggest about the theme of identity?
Jason's mother's purchase of two carp is a passive-aggressive maneuver in her battle against Jason's father. This is similar to the scene in "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie's mother "accidentally" knocks over a lamp his father won. Click on the link below to view the scene from the film. (This annotation contains a video)
Even though Jason knows he should not be playing a prank on Mr. Blake, and he is nervous about doing so, why does he commit the prank?
Sometimes author's ignore grammatical conventions and rules to create and enhance the mood. The author uses a combination of fragments and a narrative style that only reflects the action.
When Pluto Noak remarks, "Skill," the narrator thinks, "That skill splashed on me." What does he mean by this?
Though this is supposed to be a prank, it goes too far. The boys are not simply being a nuisance, they are disrespectful and rude to Mr. Blake. This is another example of the motif of masculinity. Similar to the men in the text, the boys don't have limitations or socially appropriate boundaries.
The narrator conveys the story about Pluto Noak and the art teacher in order to illustrate
The highlighted excerpt illustrates how a seemingly insignificant interaction can have a significant impact on the narrator's social status.
What does the invitation to join the Spooks mean to Jason's reputation? Why is it significant? Use textual evidence to support your response.
What do you think the narrator means when he says that "boys don't become men. Boys just get papier-mached inside a man's mask"? Consider how this illustrates the themes of innocence and experience.
When Jason's mother reveals that she is offered a job, Jason's father's "lips smiled." Based on that description, what can you infer about his father's feelings about the job offer?
Even Jason's mother feels the isolation of not belonging. Because their family has not been in Black Swan Green for generations, they are considered outsiders on some level.
Though the narrator is excited and anxious about being initiated into the Spooks, which textual excerpt suggests he is also nervous to be alone in the graveyard in the evening?
The narrator's attitude toward Moran vacillates between considering him a true friend and being somewhat ashamed of him. Their adventure with the Spooks' initiation will be a test of their friendship. What do you think will happen between the boys?
"Moran never takes snipers into account" is an example of ____________ language.
Remember: this year in the narrator's life is like one long journey. In Thomas C. Foster's book How to Read Literature Like a Professor, he writes about how all journey tales have a similar plot structure. Each journey tale or quest consists of five elements: (a) a quester, (b) a place to go, (c) a stated reason to go there, (d) challenges and trials en route, and (e) a real reason to go there. The fifth element or the "real reason to go there" is what the quester will discover (usually about himself and life) as a result of his journey. Try to identify the elements in this text as you read.
The narrator describes his intitation into the Spooks in great detail in order to develop
The author uses diction to help develop the characters' personas. An example is when the narrator realizes that he may scare Squelch's pregnant mother and worries if he frightens her she may go into preterm labor and "the kid might be a retard like Squelch." This statement isn't something an adult would say. To review the definition and function of diction, please click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Squelch's mother describes him as not "backward enough when it comes to allowances and whatnot, ain't quick enough on his pegs for jobs like shunting' boxes in Kays Catalogues." What does this description suggest?
This could be a significant night in Jason's life. Because he passed the initiation for the Spooks, he is automatically considered cool and untouchable.
Jason claims that asking if anyone will help Moran is "miles more difficult than running across people's back gardens." What does this imply about the members of the Spooks?
The previous chapter ended without the narrator telling you what happened that night. Why do you think the author does this? What do you think happened that night? Did Jason abandon Moran?
Based on the narrator's description of the elderly woman, the elderly woman is most similar to which literary character?
Madame Crommelynck is an interesting character. She is the reason why Jason's poems are published; she enjoys them. Sometimes in literature, characters are introduced to help develop another character. This is part of the purpose of Madame Crommelynck's character.
How does Madame Crommelynck make Jason feel about his poetry?
Have you ever been challenged by an adult the way Madame Crommelynck is challenging Jason? She is not hoping he agrees with her or is passive; she wants him to speak his mind and be honest in his answers to her questions.
What does the highlighted passage illustrate about the adults in Jason's life?
Why do you think the author includes details about Madame Crommelynck's life? Do you think you are able to understand her character more? Or does she become more complex?
Why does Jason lie to Madame Crommelynck when she asks him if she is beautiful? Use textual evidence to support your response.
What is a good indicator that the narrator respects and appreciates his time with Madame Crommelynck?
The dialogue between Madame Commelynck and Jason develops the theme of identity. Madame Commelynck is trying to instill pride in Jason, but he is resistant because he doesn't see his skills as admirable qualities.
Though Jason's mother may find his tone with Madame Crommelynck unacceptable, Madame Crommelynck enjoys Jason's passion because
Madame Crommelynck is another example of the feminine motif. She is different than the male adults (and many of the adults) in the text because she does not treat Jason as an insignificant teenager. This is evidenced by her disregard for the phone because she is speaking to Jason.
What does Madame Crommelynck mean when she says, "Your habit with that word diminishes your stature"?
The highlighted passage is very revealing about Jason's life and the changes that will occur in his life over the next year. How do you think he will fare? Will he be okay? Will his family?
Based on the dialogue between Madame Commelynck and Jason, who can you infer is the girl she cannot forgive and does not "know how to stop to abhor"?
Though Madame Crommelynck may speak down to Jason at times, it is not in the same tone or with the same purpose that his teachers or classmates speak to him. She does not intend to disrespect Jason; she intends to make him think about what he is saying and its impact on his audience.
The author uses ___________ to contrast the way Jason is taught French at school and the way Madame Crommelynck introduces Jason to French in order to highlight how interested Jason becomes about a topic if he is given the positive reinforcement and attention.
Mrs. Bendicks is an prime example of the adults in the text. She is not a respectable character. She is gossipy and enjoys the misery of others.
With Madame Crommelynck gone, Jason proceeds to think his "poems are crap," he is too young to know anything, and he will be lonely. Based on the impact she had on Jason, you can infer that Madame Crommelynck symbolized
Though Jason is changing over the course of the year, the highlighted statement reveals that he is still
Though you may not understand all the references, it is evident that these girls are cool and probably out of Jason's league.
Compare and contrast Sally's friends to the boys in Black Swan Green. Use textual evidence to support your response.
When the narrator explains that "you can't ask adults [questions about sex] 'cause you can't ask adults. You can't ask kids 'cause it'd be all round school by first break" this illustrates the theme of isolation. Though many of Jason's classmates are in the same situation, no one talks about it, so it is very lonely and isolating.
The IRA is an acronym for the Irish Republican Army. During the early twentieth century, the IRA fought against the English influence and forces in Ireland. Its ultimate goal was to expel British rule and unite northern Ireland with Ireland. The IRA's protests were often viewed violent and caused tension between English and Irish citizens. For more information about the IRA, click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
What tone does Danny use in the highlighted passage?
Danny gives Jason a unique perspective about life by sharing his story. Though Jason is facing some difficult situations and feels lonely, he does have a family he can retreat to and be with. Imagine feeling bullied or isolated and not having a support system.
Jason's response to his father in "Mum's flattest voice" implies ALL of the following except
When Jason sees his dad stumbling drunk, it illustrates the themes of innocence and experience. He sees his dad as a person for the first time and not simply his dad.
Read the passage between Jason and his father when they examine the fossil and compare and contrast it to the next passage when they run into Jason's father's boss, Mr. Salt. How does Jason's view of his father change? Why?
Jason loses respect for his father after watching him with Mr. Salt. He cannot believe that his father allows someone to treat him and Jason with such disrespect.
Though the story may seem out of place, what does it illustrate about the theme of perception versus reality?
What do you think is the purpose of the scene between Jason and the shopkeeper? Hint: think about the other scenes in the text where Jason has a one on one conversation with an adult woman. What is the result each time?
Like Jason's speech therapist and Madame Crommelynck, Rosamund tries to help Jason see a different perspective and as a result
Rosamund asks Jason a rhetorical question when she asks if he knows his parents. Click on the link below to read a definition of rhetorical question. Does Jason understand what she is asking? (This annotation contains a link)
Even though Jason thinks the "Pixie" is beautiful, he tells his mother that she is stealing because he is loyal to his mother and doesn't need to impress the girl. This is evidence that Jason is
Contrast Jason's mother with his father when the two are faced with a challenging situation. How do they differ? Consider how this illustrates the motifs of femininity and masculinity.
ALL of the following terms describe Jason's feelings for his mother except
The author uses juxtaposition to contrast Jason's pride in his mother with his embarrassment to be seen with her. By doing this, the author is able to make Jason's embarrassment seem much more shameful and wrong. Do you think Jason is overreacting about being seen with his mother at the movies?
Though there is nothing wrong with going to the movies with your parents, Ross Wilcox uses this fact to bully and tease Jason because he can. This exemplifies which motif?
Jason's experiences in this chapter are similar to scenes from the Tina Fey film "Mean Girls." In the film Regina George and her friends (aka "The Plastics") disrespect and dislike people simply because they can. They exemplify the statement, "Hate doesn't need a why. Who or even what is ample." (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Jason's social status changed drastically over the course of a few months? What do you think is the catalyst for this change? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Based on the dialogue between Ross Wilcox and Mr. McNamara, how does Ross feel about Mr. McNamara?
The altercation between Mr. McNamara and the boys illustrates the theme of authority. Usually authority figures such as teachers are respected because of their status. But it is evident that authority not only deemed by status but by power. In Jason's world, your status is achieved by exerting your power on others, or in other words bullying others.
How are Mr. McNamara and Jason similar?
Reread Mr. Nixon's tirade carefully. He punishes the boys because their behavior reflects poorly on him and his authority. Why are the boys not mistreating him as well? Do the boys respect or fear Mr. Nixon? Is there a difference?
How does Debby Crombie's pregnancy illustrate the theme of innocence versus experience?
Jason compares Mr. Nixon's question to "shoot[ing] their own kneecaps" because if anyone were to speak up and say he didn't participate in the chant, he would be a target for bullying. By accepting a punishment for something you didn't do, you protect the real perpetrators.
Jason describes reading in class like a fight between he and Hangman. This is an example of which literary device?
Though Miss Lippett is disrespectful to Gary Drake, she speaks to him in that manner because knows he is feigning innocence. She does not tolerate his bullying of Jason simply because he has a stammer. She is not trying to exert her power over him to make her self-esteem rise.
Why is the introduction of Holly Deblin's character significant? How is she different from the other teenage characters in the text? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Do you think that Mr. Kempsey sent Jason on the errand purposefully? The message in the xerox is clear: Don't lose yourself in adolescence because it doesn't define your life. Being uncool in high school doesn't mean you are destined to be a loser.
Why does Jason continue to recite the days of the week?
Ross Wilcox is stupefied by Jason's response and comment about his breath. The bullies in the text expect compliance or a fight for power; they do not expect brutal honesty with no intentions of a fight.
The bullies want to physically intimidate and humiliate boys like Jason in order to maintain their status. Which theme does this illustrate?
Julia's departure for school signifies another change in Jason's life. Remember that this text can also be read as a journey tale and Jason is the quester. What is he discovering about himself and his relationships with others throughout the course of the year?
According to the narrator, why is Ross Wilcox perceived as powerful?
The knife grinder is referred to as a "gypsy" in the text. The term is used to describe the Romani or Roma people who migrate throughout Europe and the United States. Also known as travelers, they do not have permanent residences, but like to move across the countryside. They have a derogatory reputation for being swindlers, hustlers, or living beyond the confines of the law. To read more about the Romani, click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
What tone does Jason use when he recalls knowing a "gypsy kid" when he was younger?
Reread the dialogue between Jason's parents. There is an old adage that states, "The thief always thinks he is being robbed." This means that the guilty will always accuse. What do you think Jason's father's accusations are revealing?
Do you agree with Jason's declaration that "those kids must hate [him]"? Why or why not? Use textual evidence, personal experience, and your own knowledge of bullies to support your response.
How are the adults' reactions to the gypsies similar to the teenagers' interactions with one another? How do they all behave ignorantly and brashly?
The meeting of the "Village Camp Crisis Committee" illustrates which of the following themes?
As you read, have you noticed that not one of the individuals who speak at the meeting have actually encountered one of the gypsies? The people of Black Swan Green are basing their knowledge on assumptions and stereotypes. This type of behavior may be expected because, as Julia pointed out earlier in the text, if you weren't a resident of Black Swan Green for centuries, you are considered an outsider.
What does the sudden shift in mood from the dramatic scene at the town meeting to the humdrum scene at Dean Moran's house suggest?
Though Dean's family doesn't have much money and they don't have many nice amenities in their home, they genuinely enjoy spending time with one another. They are also resourceful and find ways to have a good time. Why do you think the author includes this scene in the text?
Jason would love to stay and eat dinner with Dean's family. Why?
In the highlighted section, the author uses personification to emphasize the narrator's loneliness. Where has the author done this before?
Even though it isn't safe, Jason decides to pursue the dog who took his knapsack. Why?
Based on the highlighted passage, Jason is hesitant to approach the gypsies about his Adidas bag because he feels like a(n)
Jason notes that "rain, colds, scraps, bullies, handing in homework on time, such things don't worry these kids." What does this imply?
What is ironic about the scene between Jason and the gypsies?
A kennick is a slang term for the lower class. It is evident from the gypsy camp's response to the town meeting that they are not concerned about what the people think about them, they are concerned with what the people want to do to them. The gypsies do not want to lose any part of their identity- even if it means fitting in. What does this demonstrate about the themes of identity and isolation?
Though the gypsies are not considered cultured or talented, they demonstrate otherwise. Through Jason's interactions with them, it is evident that appearance and reality are not always congruent.
What would you do if you found the wallet? Would you return it to Ross or keep it to spite him? Do you think Jason is justified if he decides to keep the wallet?
The scene between Ross Wilcox and the fairground employees is interesting because it demonstrates how Ross has no authority or power in a place where he doesn't know anyone.
What does the way that Alan Wall and Clem Ostler treat Jason and Dean reveal about the theme of appearance versus reality?
Alan Wall stands up for Jason for a number of reasons. He may not like Gary Drake. He make not like bullies. He may respect Jason. Whatever his reasons may be, he illustrates that Jason is not a loser or an outcast to society; he is treated as an outcast by the other students in his school.
"Bare-knuckle fightin'" is a traditional practice among gypsies. It is a means of entertainment and settling disputes.
What is the moral of Clem's story?
Do you think the highlighted statement is true? In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Caesar is assassinated because he falls out of favor with a select group of senators. Ironically, those same men who vilified Caesar and were celebrated for assassinating him, were driven out of Rome because Brutus convinced the Romans they were murderers.
What does the highlighted excerpt reveal about the dynamic between respect and fear?
Guy Fawkes Night is November fifth. Guy Fawkes is Britain's most notorious traitor and also the motivation for the main character in the film "V for Vendetta." (This annotation contains an image)
Jason's dad laments that he hasn't attended the fair in eleven years because "something important always got in the way," but now he has "no idea what those things were." Based on his statement, how can you characterize Jason's dad?
Ross Wilcox's reaction is not grateful or appreciative. This illustrates the masculine motif throughout the text. Ironically Jason is not afraid of him, but pities him.
Why do you think the author chose to have Ross Wilcox be injured both physically and emotionally?
What motivates Jason to destroy Neal Brose's calculator?
Remember: Mr. Kempsey is the same teacher who sent Jason on the errand to get his whistle. When Jason was at his desk, he took a xerox copy of a list of reasons to stand up to bullies. This implies that Mr. Kempsey knew that Jason was being bullied.
Writing is an outlet for Jason. What does that mean?
For the first time in the text, Jason has the support of his teachers. Do you think this is a direct result of standing up for himself?
What is the purpose of Miss Lippets' lecture about secrets? What do you think she is trying to teach the students? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Do you think that Jason "changed" what his secret was about? By breaking Neal's calculator and telling the administration, he put an end to the bullying.
The highlighted passage is evidence that Jason has gained
What do you think the changes in Jason's father's behavior and now Julia's foreshadow?
How has the relationship between Julia and Jason changed over the past year? What is the catalyst for these changes?
Julia seems to understand that her brother needs to go out and enjoy time with his peers. Even though she may not know what is going on, she cares about her brother and wants to see him happy.
Flyod Chaceley's brother would like to have "words" with Neal Brose and the others who bullied his brother. He is obviously more fierce and intimidating than the other bullies Jason has dealt with. Which theme does this reinforce?
Click on the link below to see the music video for Kylie Minogue's cover of "Locomotion." (This annotation contains a video)
Aside from being his first kiss, why is Jason's kiss with Holly significant?
Even though Holly liked Jason, she was not going to pursue a relationship with him while he allowed himself to be degraded. Confidence and self-respect are important attributes. This illustrates the theme of experience. By becoming more experienced, Jason is developing more confidence and self-esteem.
Jason believes that his "Dad was too drained to throw an eppy." Which excerpt from the text implies that this is NOT the reason Jason's dad doesn't get upset about the calculator?
The narrator includes minor details that intimate Jason's dad doesn't have good news to deliver to him. His dad "swallows" when Jason asks him directly about the news, he refers to Jason as "love," and overall he is extremely understanding about his father's watch.
Based on the clues, who is Gwendolin Bendincks speaking about?
The dialogue between Mrs. Rhydd and Gwendolin Bendicks illustrates the themes of appearance versus reality and identity. The women truly believe what they see encompasses the entire story. The don't consider that the people they gossip about have feelings and are part of a family that is falling apart.
What is the tone of the highlighted excerpt?
Consider how Jason's character would have dealt with his parents' breakup, the move, and the town gossiping about his family a year ago. He is handling it well now because as a result of his experiences over the past year, he has matured.
Why is Jason surprised that Cynthia is not "big-boobed" or "an evil-eyed witch"?
The highlighted passage illustrates Jason's growth over the past year. He has a new perspective about life: he realizes that it is always changing, and if you don't like your situation at the current time, it will change eventually.
Though the joke throughout the entire text has been that there are no swans in Black Swan Green, Jason sees one on the day he is moving away. Why do you think the author includes this scene? What does it symbolize?
It turns out that the old woman who helped Jason when hurt himself on the ice was real. This scene helps to reinforce the idea that Jason is no longer innocent.
The scene with Mrs. Gretton is similar to Jason's visits with
What do you think Jason means when he states, "Through Lou's eyes, mind, we're the ones sinking."
What does Jason's tin symbolize?
As Julia and Jason discuss their mutual envy for one another's rooms, Jason learns something new about his sister: she is afraid of things, too.
The dialogue between Julia and Jason about Eliot Bolivar is an example of