For this book club, make sure you have read Senna’s Caucasia from pg 291-413 (the end of the book).
After you’ve read the section, post a numbered list of thoughtful discussion questions (at least 4) and reflections (at least 2) from the excerpt. Discussion questions should focus mainly on the racial themes of the book and be in-depth, thought-provoking questions. (Bad examples of discussion questions: “Why did Birdie do X?” “Do you think they’re going to get caught?”) Since this isn’t an in-person book club, make sure your questions provide the necessary context– also including page numbers of what you’re referencing. Each question and reflection should be multiple sentences long.
*Also, add how you liked the book overall and the ending specifically.*
In your responses, you will need to respond to two of your classmates, on their threads. Choose at least two items from their list (one must be a question, the other can be either a question or reflection) and provide a substantive response [Example: “In response to your Question 1, ….”] that provokes more discussion similar to the other discussions we have in class. Be sure to make connections to course material.
1. After Birdie spent so much time with her mother on the run, full of secrets, and always being on edge, do you think when she was finally alone she felt safer? On page 297 Birdie says, “the Boston accent, even on these grizzly red-faced men, sounded comforting and welcoming to me. I wanted to stay for a while, just breathe in the fact that I was really here, in my old city where my mother once had said we would never safely set foot again.” She is back there, and it seems like she feels safe.
2. Do you think when Birdie is talking back to her Grandmother saying, “This whole world- it’s based on lies. No wonder my mother left. I mean, its stinks” (365). Is Birdie in a way defending her mother or does she really dislike her Grandmother and is just using her for the money?
3. When Birdie finally sees her Father and she get’s mad at him and cut’s him off saying, “You said you’d come back to get me. You said it was just for a while” (388). Did Birdie really care about seeing her father and having her mother being saved or was it all about getting to Cole?
4. In the beginning of the book we see Birdie as being very innocent and naïve. When she finally finds Dot and she is asking about what has been going on with her and where her mother is the first thing that comes to her mind is, “[her] mothers training came back to [her] as it always seemed to in times of need. How to be crooked. How to tell a lie” (304). Because of how she has been for the last several years do you think Jessie will always now be a part of her even if she doesn’t want it to be?
I think that Birdie always cared for her parents but that was never her focus. Even when she ran away from her mother she would sometimes think of her, and when Dot left she would think of her as well. However, her main goal was always to find Cole. Finding Dot, her Grandmother and lastly her father were all stops along the way just to get closer to Cole. Similar to my 3rd question, I don’t think she was mad at her father for not finding her because she wanted to see him, but because she thought Cole was still with him.
After finishing the book, I think that in a way Birdie was always in survival mode or in a way defensive. When her and Cole were still together, and they went to the school, she would always have to be careful and not get hurt or try to stand up for herself. When she was with her mother on the run clearly, she was always worried about who she is talking to or what she’s doing and was always extra cautious. Even when running away she was very careful with what she said to Dot as well as her Grandmother.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. The main way I viewed it is how being in a mixed family can dramatically change the relationships with other people in your family just based on how you look, and it can really drive a family apart. I really liked how they made the Cole and Birdie have the strongest relationship even though they are the most different characters in the book. It showed how a strong bond can keep a relationship together even years of not seeing each other or communicating.
- In chapter 14 Nicholas and Birdie see each other at a party. It’s been two years since nicholas got expelled and left Birdie. Do you think Birdie wants to pick up where the two left off?
- Also in Chapter 14 bird seems to be contemplating if she can trust Samantha with her secret but, then remembers Sandy saying she can’t trust anyone. So instead Birdie asks Samantha what “color” she thinks Birdie. Samantha replies she heard bride “ was jewish”. Birdie then ask Samantha what “Color” she is. How did Samantha respond towards Birdie? Why did she respond that way?
- Near the end of chapter 15 we see Birdie run away to find her aunt Dot. Continuing into Chapter 16 Dot and Birdie have a talk about life and color. How did Aunt Dot’s views differ from Birdie’s father? Were they more positive or negative? How do these views affect Birdie?
- In chapter 17 we see Birdie finally unburden herself by telling her friend Ronnie what her mother did to her. Then in response Ronnie unburdens himself from his secrets. What does unburdening those secrets about her color and life do for Birdie? How does this affect her in the future?
Firstly I would like to reflect on the books theme of race and identity. Race and identity is a topic that is hard for some to express due to being scared of others responses. We see this with how Birdies mother reacts, being so strict on her. Also saying how Birdie “ can’t trust anyone. Birdie has never had the chance to be herself and or feel excepted her whole life.
Secondly, I would like to reflect on another theme I seen in the book. There was this constant theme of disappearing. For example Birdie and her mother disappear, then her father and sister. Though when you look deeper Birdie’s identity disappears as well.
In the end I really like the book. At first I was a little confused though really enjoyed the book overall. The multiple different themes and characters in the book kept things very interesting. I also liked how each character had something unique about them and or secret. I really also enjoyed the end of the book as well. It was a bittersweet ending in my opinion. Bride seeing a bus filled with kids of different races and ethnicities and a young mixed girl that reminds her of herself, she has this feeling of shock because the kids were going on about their lives. They were all “utterly ordinary” specifically the young mixed girl and when that bus left, so did Birdie’s slight feeling of “ not being alone” when seeing a young mixed girl.
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