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Blog Post #3: Humor and the Body (Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon)

After I read the McGillis piece, a series of questions surfaced for me: What are the ways in which humor is embodied? How does humor get (re)articulated through bodies? What are the meanings of different kinds of humor and how do they weigh in/on the body and how does the audience make meaning of them? I really started to grapple with these questions and the ways in which “the body has been a source of humor” (.258) as I read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

In Everything, Everything, Yoon chronicles the journey of teenager Madeline Whittier, a self-identified multiracial Japanese and African American girl who believes that she has a dangerous and life threatening auto-immune disease. Madeline lives her life (or her semblance of a life) in her decontaminated house under the supervision of her mother and her nurse, Carla. Quarantined in her home since an infant, Madeline knows little of the outside world and has capitulated to the demands of her disease out of necessity. Madeline’s very body becomes threatened when she makes contact with the outside world (her sickness is embodied quite literally here).

Early in the novel, Madeline describes the condition of her disease in relation to how it fueled her passion for reading and the ways she interacts with books (by labeling them as her property), she remarks: “I don’t know why I do this. There’s no one else here except my mother, who never reads, and my nurse Carla, who has no time to read because she spends all her time watching me breathe” (.1). Here, Madeline deploys humor not only to explain her medical condition and the impact it has on her body (“basically, I’m allergic to the world”) but she also utilizes humor to convey the ways in which her disease regulates her interactions with and navigation of the world (specifically, the world inside her house). For Madeline, humor allows her to cope with a medical condition that could ultimately be a death sentence. It helps her processing and speaks to her desire to not be the object of any one’s pity. Madeline does not want to be restricted to the confines of her house, though she realizes that this is her social reality and thus humor becomes a vital part of how she traverses it. The humor expressed early in the novel speaks to the ways in which humor can create necessary space and/distance from excoriating human experiences, a line of reasoning that McGillis draws, as he states “we can realize that the humor provides us with a necessary distancing from the death so that we can take in the lesson this death delivers” (.263). Madeline was distancing herself from her illness and the significance and power it had over her life through the deployment of humor. Furthermore, Madeline arguably pokes fun at her disease in an exaggerated fashion that is characteristic of humor in children’s literature—for instance, when she says she’s allergic to the world. Madeline isn’t literally allergic to the world (only certain triggers) but by exaggerating Madeline constructs herself as aberrant, as different, a notion that speaks to McGillis’ assertion that “the point is that much humor for children is exaggerated, fantasy writ large, a reminder of the monstrous and the freakish. The freakish serves, as Susan Stewart asserts, to normalize the person reading about or looking at the freak, ‘as much as it marks the freak as an aberration’ (.267).

Later in the book, the plot really thickens and humor gives way to a teenage love story. Whereas humor is how Madeline initially copes with her condition, she later hinges her future, desires, and ambitions on her next door hunky neighbor, Olly. Madeline falls in love with Olly and doesn’t really rely on humor to explore, process, or understand (which felt so problematic to me)—Olly becomes more important than coping and figuring her own thing out and the novel’s emphasis on embodiment shifts to consider the ways in which love inhabits and affects the body (heart racing, flutters, butterflies, Madeline’s “body blushing”) and how perceptions and realities of health operate inside and outside the body (when Madeline describes feeling well versus when she feels like she feels like she’s been “doused with kerosene and lit with a match” (.224; .234). Near the conclusion of Everything, Everything, Madeline discovers that she doesn’t have a life-threatening auto-immune disease. Rather, it is implied that her mother has an undiagnosed mental health issue that surfaced after the deaths of Madeline’s father and brother when she was a baby. I think it’s worth considering how humor shifted, evolved, and (dis)appeared throughout the novel (as well as broader dynamics and themes of masculinity and femininity, gender, sexuality and race).

Humor and the Body in Children’s Lit x This One Summer

This One Summer is a graphic novel from the creative duo behind Skim. In This One Summer, Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki pair up again to bring us the story of one girl’s summer: in a familiar place, Awago Beach (her family’s summering spot), while she grapples with the new and unfamiliar of growing up and leaving girlhood. It is in this in-between place that we meet Rose and her summertime sister/best friend, Windy. While Rose (and Windy) oscillate between carefree girlhood and the pangs of pre-teen angst and growing up, we see the body and humor operate in different ways.

Rose is the narrator and she is one year older than Windy. Because of this, she often drives the adventures, and her particular ‘pre-teen but crossing into teen’ proclivities dictate what they do. One such pastime is the consumption of horror movies. When Rose decides she’s not interested in X-men or Sex and the City anymore (the movies Windy already has), Rose and Windy go to the local store, Brewster’s, to rent a film. Postulating as grown-up, teenager, “cool,” in the hope of impressing her summer crush, Rose grabs the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Yet, at home, in a private space, Rose and Windy hide under the covers instead of watching the film outright, while text and sound bubbles surround them (“ BZZZZ!!” “Splat!!” “Squirt!” “HELP ME!!”). Rose asks Windy to distract her, and Windy brings up oral sex. “That’s so gross!!” Windy proclaims, when she finds out what it entails (all the while, the movie continues to contribute background sound for the conversation). This is in line with McGillis’ assertion that “we can see the potentially subversive aspect of humor most clearly in the scatological and violent manifestations, its obsession with the body and all its discernable parts (264)”: the sounds of dismembering bodies surround the two girls while they discuss oral sex. “The dead body and the body in pieces are recurring features of children’s stories and fantasies, and it is quite possible to find humor in the body in pieces (263).” And indeed, some of the most poignant scenes are the ones in which we see Rose grapple with her fear of the horrific images from the films they consume. For example, she sprints home one night after watching Friday the 13th and bursts into nervous/scared/tired laughter after making it home unscathed.

We also see This One Summer grapple with the humor around changing girls bodies. Windy and Rose have extensive conversations around boobs and speculate on what size boobs they will have. In one scene on the beach, Windy proceeds to dance around as they together shriek “BREASTS!” “TITS!” “SEXY TA-TAS!” before being admonished by passing adults. Rose and Windy collapse, laughing. Here, “language itself provides broad humor (264)” as the girls confront the reality of their own changing bodies and those of their peers. With all that happens in the book, it literally closes on Rose thinking, “Boobs would be cool,” as she and her family leave the cottage for the summer.

This One Summer tackles a number of topics, from teenage sex, to miscarriage, to family tensions, to summer crushes, to the pangs of growing up and leaving girlhood. The body, bodies, and body parts play an ongoing role throughout the book, and the humor in relation to the body is both gentle at times (Windy mangling gummy feet candies before consuming them) or unrelentingly grotesque (as with the many scenes involving horror films). The visuals vividly drive all this home; I will share some of my favorites in class.

Blog Post #3 – Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies

In “Humour and the body in children’s literature” Roderick McGills writes about the “the ‘joyful’ deaths of young children.” (259) as well as how stories told to children were written with “short factual narratives… showing heroism of small children in the face of a reaper less grim than welcome.” (259). Instead of choosing one of the text that McGills’ reference I’ve decided to look at something more recent. The short story collection Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies, by author David Lubar, is one in a long series of children’s and middle grade books. The stories within the pages uses tales of children being attacked by garbage monsters, or parents not celebrating their child’s birthday because of the end of the world, as a method to address real problems.

The titular story is a tale in which the main character, Amanda, is the only one without a cellular phone as she watches her classmates click and tap their way through class without noticing the outside world. Even the teacher has their phone out, ignoring the class of “texters, surfers, and gamers.” (116) What this story does is that it uses the way people stare at their cell phones, tablets, and any other electronic device without acknowledging their surroundings. Amanda says in the story that, “The world had turned into Wireless Weenies, sucking gigabytes of data out if the air.” (116). McGills writes that comedy “serves to remind us just how important the body is to the human condition.” While the story isn’t comedic in the sense it does show the importance of the body, or in the case of the wireless weenies, the mind. Everyone is engrossed in their devices to understand the world around them, their minds aren’t one with their body and they don’t have the ability to listen to reason.

While the story is short, the point comes in the form of a squid monster that has appeared next to the school, and while the lead character attempts to alert people of the crisis they all ignore Amanda in favor of posting about the monster on social media. The children fall to their deaths, are taken by the monster, their teacher wants to abandon them in favor of saving themselves. McGills says “it will be sufficient for me to point out that much humour for young readers finds expression in satire and parody.” The parody within the story is that it is using real people and the need to record a moment, to not pay attention to the severity of a situation instead going forth towards danger, once again going towards “the ‘joyful’ death.”

Lubar’s series of stories often uses real life situations to show how scary the world is but some stories are sound far-fetched until it’s read between the lines. This particular story shows the dangers of not truly paying attention to what is happening around you, and it could have a negative effect on your life. It may sound funny but sometimes what one person thinks is funny really isn’t the same for another.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

Published in 1992, Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales won the New York Time’s “Best Illustrated Book” award and was named a Caldecott Honor Book.   The illustrated book follows Jack as he attempts to piece together the book. Frequently, the book breaks the fourth wall, as Jack and some of the characters are directly aware that they exist in an illustrated book that is currently being read. Most importantly, the book is a parody of popular fairy tales.

For example, the first story is “Chicken Licken.” From the beginning, the story seems no different than the traditional tale. Chicken Licken runs around town telling everyone that “The sky is falling!” Opposite of the first page, Chicken Licken is drawn large and green with far apart eyes, glasses, and a mouth open in clear panic. A tile with the number “12” bounces off his head. However, “the sky wasn’t falling. The Table of Contents was. It fell and squashed everybody” (Scieszka and Smith). Over two pages, we can see parts of Chicken Licken, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosy, Cocky Locky, and Foxy Loxy peeking out from underneath the crumpled table of contents, a cloud of dust surrounding them.

Throughout the book, The Little Red Hen appears abruptly, complaining about the disappearance of the other characters who were supposed to help her. Rather than getting any work done, she gets eaten by the Giant that Jack faces off against. Her words often appear in large red font, abrasive in comparison to Jack’s small black font. Jack has just put Giant to sleep when Little Red Hen appears; her large red font wakes Giant. Excited by the bread she is complaining about, he sits up, wide eyed. On the next page, Giant holds a sandwich with feathers sticking out. Little Red Hen’s legs poke out one side of his mouth while he cleans his teeth with a feather. Jack smiles as he runs away on the facing page.   The Little Red Hen repeatedly disrupts Jack’s ability to put together a cohesive book; by putting her end on the page facing “The End,” there is a certain humor to her death.

As Mcgillis points out, “children’s humor depends largely on the body. Not entirely, but largely. Slapstick, caricature, parody, the grotesque, ridicule, and the improbable in human predicaments concern the body, and so too does nonsense” (McGillis 258). He goes on to mention the importance of names and size in relation to that humor. Regardless of what aspect of the body, there seems to be a subversive act to the humor.  With The Stinky Cheese Man, fairy tales are parodied, where classic elements are subverted, critiquing the moral message of the original tale.  There is nothing to gain from the individual stories. “Chicken Little” is often a moral tale of courage (or if the fox ends up eating Chicken Little, it is a tale about not believing everything you are told). That moral is removed when the Table of Contents crushes everyone. Similarly, “Little Red Riding Shorts” ends with Little Red walking away with the wolf annoyed that Jack ruined their story by giving it all away in advance. There is no moral to gain from walking in the woods alone.

While The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales actively works against moral lessons, the book does have a didactic element. Through Jack’s constant missteps, the reader learns about the elements of book: narrator, characters, title page, table of contents, etc. An element that is kept in the play version, but now it’s the elements of the play that are being interrupted and misplaced. (Also, I think the play is really interesting since it’s children’s bodies that are performing the stories from the book, but we can talk about that more in class).


If you’re not familiar with the book, check out this website.

Humor and Willy Wonka

“‘Oh, don’t worry about them!’ cried Mr. Wonka. ‘They’re always laughing! They think everything’s a colossal joke’” (Dahl 81).

When you think about the story line of Roald Dahl’s famous children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory it may seem a little off-putting. It is essentially the story of five kids who visit a chocolate factory where all of the works are slaves and four of the five children only narrowly escape death. In truth, the infamous Willy Wonka comes across as more villain than hero. Yet, since its first publication in 1964, the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has gone through multiple editions and has been the subject of two widely successful move adaptions. How is it that such a story can come across as, not only palatable, but widely endearing? The success of the book lies in no small part with Dahl’s use of humor.

In the essay “Humor and the Body in  Children’s Literature,” Roderick McGillis explores a number of different forms of humor that are often found in children’s literature, and Dahl makes use of almost all of them. From funny names and strange words to playing with size and strange foods, there seems to be humor embedded into each twist and turn through Wonka’s elaborately whimsical factory.  Perhaps, however, the type of humor that is most true to Dahl’s work lies in the idea exaggeration and fantasy (McGillis 267).  Certainly in, a factory that makes jawbreakers that never get smaller, ice-cream that never melts, and gum that can take the place of an entire meal whatever happens exists outside of the realm of reality and believability. It is from this place of suspended reality that we are able to find humor in the torture of children.

Indeed, the idea of grotesque and unpleasant humor seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout the novel. One of the earliest examples of this is when one of the children, Augustus Gloop, falls into a chocolate river and gets sucked into a pipe that leads to the fudge room. While his parents are clearly distraught by what is happening to their child, the reader cannot help but to laugh as the Oompa-Loompas sing about the possible market success of “Augustus-favored chocolate-coated Gloop” (76). This occurs time and time again as Violet turns into a blueberry, swelling and turning purple, before being rolled out of the room with her parents close behind, Veruca and her parents get pushed down a pipe to the furnace (which luckily for them only gets lit every other day) and Mike Teavee is zapped into a million pieces before popping back up small enough to be carried out in his mother’s hand. The children are removed from the factory tour one by one with no knowledge of what will happen to them. When we seem then again leaving the factory at the end of the story, they appear to be unharmed yet not unscathed. The pressure of the tube has thinned Augustus, Violet is back to her original size but not her original color, Veruca is covered in trash but it must have been a day when the furnace is not lit, and Mike has been stretched out so that he towers over even the adults and is as thin as a pencil (Dahl 148). Sure, these kids have been tortured, but at least the reader can get a good laugh out of it.

As evident in some of the examples above, size is a large contributor to the humor of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Even before Augustus gets sucked into a tube, he is the subject of the reader’s laughter due to the fact that he is significantly overweight. In fact, the illustrations show him almost as round as blueberry Violet. Augustus’ weight is the subject of many jokes and remarks such as when the rest of the children each take one blade of edible grass and Augustus grabs a handful. The reader laughs again as Violet grows in size and once more when Mike shrinks. While not depicted on the page, the reader cannot help but to laugh as well at the idea of Mike being stretched by a gum machine or Violet being juiced. In these moments, and many other in the story, the manipulation of the body becomes a source of humor.

Yet, it is not just the children that are subject to bodily humor. Perhaps the most obvious examples of characters in the story that are designed strictly for humor are the Oompa-Loompas. Putting aside the overt racism of having a tribe of people living and working inside of a chocolate factory while wearing leaves and furs, one cannot help but to find humor in Wonka’s work force. With their strange names and small stature, standing as tall as an average adult’s knee, the Oompa-Loompas come across as just another element of the whimsical chocolate factory. The Oompa-Loompas are also directly responsible for much of the humor surrounding the fates of the children through the songs that they sing whenever one of the rejected children is carted out of the room.

Ultimately, it must be said that the Wonka Factory is home to humor in many forms, and it is because of this humor that Dahl has secured a place in the tradition of children’s literature.

Blog #3: Rudolph

Throughout the 1964 TV special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” many of the main characters are classified as “misfits,” including Heremy, the elf who wants to be a dentist, and Rudolph, whose nose and lack of reindeer abilities other him. In one of the early songs in the work they sing:

We’re a coupIe of misfits, what’s the matter with misfits?

Seems to us kind of siIIy, that we don’t fit in.

We may be different from the rest

Who decides the test of what is reaIIy best?

Here they directly question what qualifies someone as a “misfit.” But it isn’t until Heremy, Rudolph, and their pal Yukon enter the Island of Misfit Toys that they realize the true plight of being other and/or excluded. The island and its inhabitants are introduced in a catchy song that is sweet, comedic, and festive, celebrating how Christmas is “the most wonderful day of the year.” However, at its core the song is a narrative about how these “defective” toys have been banished by Santa Claus to this island of manufacturing rejects, since no child would ever want to play with them.

In the song, the misfit toys describe the world they are excluded from:

Toys gaIore, scattered on the fIoor

There’s no room for more

And it’s aII because of Santa CIaus

A scooter for Jimmy, a doIIy for Sue

The kind that wiII even say ”How do you do?”

Here the happy world of regular children and perfect toys is glorified and characterized as something all the misfits wish they could be a part of. They then go on to describe their misfit-ness and the rhetoric that makes them undesirable to children:

How wouId you Iike to be a spotted eIephant?

Or a choo-choo with square wheeIs on your caboose?

Or a water pistoI that shoots jeIIy?

WouId you Iike to be a bird that doesn’t fIy? I swim!

Or a cowboy who rides an ostrich?

Or a boat that can’t stay afIoat?

We’re aII misfits!

If we’re on the IsIand of Unwanted Toys

We’II miss aII the fun With the girIs and the boys

When Christmas day is here, the most wonderful day of the year!

Although this is a TV special meant for children, I find it hard to ignore the disability politics of the situation. The toys are all marked as “misfits,” as defective and undesirable because of their irregular bodies. Many of the toys are functional still, but just not in traditionally way (train with square wheels). Some simply have different aesthetic elements (spotted element). This song/scene is an amazing example of the social model of disability: although the toys are still functional (have no “medical” conditions), they are stigmatized by society for being different. So this song creates comedy for children by mocking the unexpected manufacturing errors in the toys, but also has a potential deep satire about hierarchies of ability.

In exchange for temporary housing on the island, the toys make Rudolph promise to make Santa help them. All the misfits know that children would still like to play with them. Although they ave been stimgatized, they know that Santa “could find children who would be happy with [us].” In the 1964 Santa later promises to help the toys but does nothing. However, in the 1965 version the animators added a scene of Santa saving the misfit toys, and that version has been the one televised ever since. Rudolph’s bodily variation (red nose) saves the day and the misfit toys are finally given the chance to be played with by children.

In McGillis’ article he uses many terms from Gothic theory to describe the bodily reaction to bodily irregularity, such as Lacan’s the Real, Burkean sublime, and Freudian uncanny. In all three situations, an audience members recognizes something both familiar and unfamiliar about something, in this case, an irregular body. The result is a mix of captivation and fear. All of these terms from Gothic criticism are directly applicable to disability and to the Island of Misfit Toys, whose inhabitants are very familiar yet somehow off, making them relatable but distant, fun but startling, comedic yet sad. Because of all these contrapuntal emotions, the misfits toys are fascinating and captivating, so much so that we keep coming back to them year after year in one of the most beloved and memorable Christmas TV specials (often accepting their comedy and cute irregularities without questioning the politics of the scene).

Kertzer / Crandall / Alexie Questions

I think I was supposed to just post questions about Kertzer but I just couldn’t help myself.

  1. When discussing the concept of “risky laughter,” Kertzer repeatedly refers to Junior’s “satire” (55). Do you agree that Junior’s humor is satirical, or is it just offensive? Kertzer gives Junior’s obsession over Penelope as an example; is this a classic example of the objectifying male gaze, or satire?
  2. Does Kertzer give Alexie too much credit, or is this book just “a mainstream novel that says little new” like Brandford suggests (50)?
  3. Kertzer states Alexie creates two types of laughter: laughing at an object and communal laughter. Does he? Does Junior ever become part of this communal laughter, and if so, at what cost?
  4. Crandall’s attempt at a disability reading of the novel seems desperate, not because he isn’t trying, but because Alexie has Junior self-diagnose at the start of the novel and then never mention his disabilities again. Because disability is not prominent in the text, Crandall had very little to analyze. Is the article a failure because of Crandall’s problematic analysis (use of the word “handicapped,” disability and race equivalency, disability as metaphor/metaphorical disability) or because of Alexie’s lack of inclusion and discussion of Junior’s disabilities?
  5.  In the novel, Junior’s disabilities are described in detailed on pages 1-4; afterwards they are basically never mentioned again. Why? What happens to them? Does he “overcome” them? Do they not affect his life? Are they not important to him, or to his story? The answer to all of those questions is most likely “no,” so why does Alexie not explore the disability angle more? Does this harm the novel overall?
  6. One of the most unique parts about YA novels that have disabled protagonist as first-person narrators is getting insight into the mind of the character, specifically how they deal with language, time, perception, interpersonal relationships, etc.  The style of the narration (diction, punctuation, paragraph breaks, sentence structure, timeline, descriptions, spelling) often reflects the mind of the disabled narrator. For example, in “Wonder” Justin’s section had run-on sentences and no capitol letters, which was supposed to be a reflection in some way of his mental processes. In “Challenger Deep” the prose often literally mirrored Caden’s state of mind, sometimes with many very short paragraphs, and other times with very long sentences and paragraphs. However, in “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” Junior states “I’m not even writing down this story the way I actually talk” (4) blatantly admitting that the prose does not match his actual experiences with language. Is this yet another example of Alexie ignoring disability?

Alexie Discussion Questions

  1. We’ve been talking about the strengths and limitations of language with each of our texts, and I wanted to discuss it again in this context. Junior overtly laments the limitations of words, and describes the various ways the people in his life make up for those limitations (Rowdy fights, Junior draws, etc.) How does the absence of adequate words lead Junior to change the way he makes connections with his peers on the reservation and at his fancy high school?
  2. The way Alexie presents the narrative highlights structural and institutional issues that many young kids in the U.S. aren’t always exposed to (i.e. rates of alcoholism in native populations, the misconceptions of the government pouring money into native populations). Can we talk about this? Do we feel like Junior is teaching the white kids, and by extension, the reader? Is this a didactic text?
  3. The version I read had an author’s note at the end for the 10-year anniversary of the book. Alexie describes how there are two heroes in the text: Junior and Rowdy. How is Rowdy heroic? Does he represent what Junior left behind, or point to Junior’s future?
  4. Access is explored in really interesting ways. Junior’s experiences remind young readers that a basketball game isn’t always played on equal grounds, even if both teams are “good.” During the class protest where everybody dropped their books in defense of Junior but left him in the class, I was reminded of the misguided protest by the students at Star’s school. Does it make sense that the white kids are as sympathetic to Junior as they are, after treating him so badly just a few months before? How are we supposed to feel about these students overall?

Alexie: “I wrote my YA novel as a way of speaking to my younger, irredeemable self.”

Just thought I’d share this piece written by Alexie ( June 9, 2011). Touches on some of the things we’ve been discussing in class.

“Why the Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood” 

He’s writing in response to/in conversation with Meghan Cox Gurdon’s, “Darkness Too Visible” (June 4, 2011). In this piece, Gurdon makes the argument that YA literature is too dark, too violent (the depravity!). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is named in her essay/rant.

Discussion Questions for Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Hey y’all! Here are my discussion questions for Alexie’s book. Looking forward to getting into this book–there’s so much there! See everyone Thursday.

  1. Schools and schooling occupy a large space in Junior’s life. How are schools sites of colonization/coloniality? Sites of physical and psychological violence and trauma for indigenous students (and other students of color)? How are Reardon and Wellpinit sites of violence in their own ways? Is there space for anything to exist in these schools for indigenous students besides violence?
  2. Junior is hyper aware of what it means to belong/unbelong and he explores this constantly in the novel. What do you make of the theme of belonging/unbelonging as Junior navigates the spaces in his life—family, school (Reardon, the rez, etc.)? Where does the title of the book — The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian — figure into this conversation?
  3. Similar to the main characters in Skim and Challenger Deep, Junior’s artwork is prominent throughout the book. What is the significance of Junior’s art? How can/does his art take on different meanings in different moments for varying audiences?
  4. One of the themes I constantly grappled with is the meaning of whiteness in the novel. Junior concurrently wrestles with a vehement antipathy and criticality toward whiteness and white people and a desire to be proximate to whiteness and white people. How does whiteness function/permeate/pervade the novel? In schools? In interpersonal relationships (Gordy, Mr. P, Penelope, etc.)
  5. Poverty is discussed throughout the book; it is salient in Junior’s life. In one particular scene, Junior remarks, “it sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor…poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor” (pg. 13). What are the intersections of race and poverty in Junior’s life? How does he make sense of it? What are the traumas of intergenerational poverty and how do they weigh on the body and the mind? For Junior? For Rowdy? Mary? For his parents? For the rez?
  6. The basketball game between Wellpinit and Reardon is a MOMENT (pg. 143). Can we talk about this moment? What happens in it? How does it explode/implode? What does it mean and what sits in it?
  7. Emotions sit heavy and nuanced in this book—anger, hope, pain, sadness, joy, and resignation are captured and lived out in the lives of the characters. What do you make of the emotional experiences and responses of the characters? How are emotions and emotional experiences reactions to structures and systems of oppression (i.e poverty & racism)? How are emotions resistance?