Study Questions and Essay Topics
1. Why is Ellen's grandmother so cruel to her? How does this make Ellen question herself? What prompts her to accuse Ellen of killing her mother?
2. How does Ellen's friendship with Starletta change over the course of the two years the novel takes place. Why does this transformation occur? How does it manifest itself?
3. How is Ellen affected by her relationship with her grandmother? How does her stay there change Ellen, and what does it reveal about her character?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. How does Ellen's time spent working on her grandmother's field with the black workers alter her views on racism? Why does she say she could pass for a "colored person?"
2. Why does Ellen admire Mavis's and Starletta's families?
3. How does Ellen reveal her precocity? How does she mature throughout the course of the novel?
4. Why is Ellen so glad that she does not believe in Santa Claus? How does this act as an indicator of her maturity? How is it sad?
5. Why does Ellen blame herself for her mother's death? What reason does she give for not wanting her grandmother to die?
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!