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ESSAY TOPIC IDEAS / BOOK REPORT TOPICS
1) Vivian and Mathew Antoine are the only mulatto characters in the novel. Contrast their influence on Grant. What ideas do they each represent?
2) What does Rev. Ambrose mean when he tells Grant that he is the educated one and Grant is the “gump”? How is self-awareness a major theme of the novel?
3) Explain Grant’s self-described tragedy: that he is unable to accept his former life, unable to leave it.
4) What is the point of the discussion of Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis? What do these sports heroes represent to the black community?
5) How is Jefferson a Christ-like figure?
6) Explain why Grant is angry at his Aunt for helping the white man break him down, make him a slave. (Page 79)
7) In their last meeting Grant tells Jefferson “My eyes were closed before this moment, Jefferson. My eyes have been closed all my life.” What does he mean?
8) How is Jefferson transformed from a ‘hog’ into a man? What does Grant help him realize that makes a difference?
9) Grant is unsatisfied with the Christmas program because he feels everything is the same year after year after year. How is this symbolic of his fatalistic inclinations?
10) Why does Grant reject religion after his return from college? Despite his agnostic beliefs, what ‘conversion’ process does he undergo as he visits Jefferson?