[NFBV-Potomac-Announce] November Book Club

John Halverson jwh100 at outlook.com
Tue Oct 27 15:08:11 UTC 2020

Hello Friends,

The November book club book is the Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.  He is the author of the Underground Railroad which we read a few years  ago.

Please find attached and below a set of questions and Carl's vocabulary.

I should have a Zoom link soon.


1) Do you think that the racism Elwood endures before going to Nickel differs at all? If so, how?

2) Discuss the relationship Elwood has with education throughout the novel.

3) A student, Jaimie, was half-Mexican and was moved back and forth between the "white" and "colored" sections at Nickel. Why do you think Whitehead added a character of this ethnicity to the story?

4) After Elwood has his first beating how does his outlook on the school and life in general change?

5) Elwood reads about how Nickel contributes to the community. What are your thoughts about how the surrounding community is benefiting from work the Nickel boys have done? Do you see this relating to historical or modern-day practices?

6) What did you think when you found out that present day Elwood was actually Turner, who had taken on Elwood's name to commemorate him? Are you able to separate the two characters?

7) Why do you think Elwood waited so long to tell Millie the truth about his past and true identity?

8) Who do you think was the villain in The Nickel Boys? Was it the teachers, the community, the school, or someone/something else?

9) After listening to the author's note at the end of the book, were you surprised to learn that Nickel was based on a real "reform school" that only just closed its doors in 2011? Did this change your feelings about the novel at all?

10) At the very end of the book, roughly 50 years after his time at Nickel, Turner ends up at the Radisson in Tallahassee, which used to be the Richmond. He's sitting in the very room Elwood used to fantasize about, although he isn't aware he has fulfilled his friend's wish of seeing a black person dine at the Richmond. How does this mark of progress make you feel, given all the injustices minorities continue to face today?

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P 3 Prologue
Part One
P 12 Chapter One
P 18 Chapter Two
P 22 clambering - scrambling
P 22 rambunction - a more succinct version of rambunctiousness
P 29 Chapter Three
P 32 tautened - tightened
P 37 avuncular - like an uncle
P 38 Dynasound - a sound modulator
P 42 conk (noun) - hair - Ran his hand over his conk
P 45 Chapter Four
P 46 vesseled - filled
P 55 Chapter Five
P 66 Chapter Six
P 70 Chapter Seven
P 70 bumptious contact - obtrusive contact
P 74 mopery - the action of committing a minor or petty offense such as loitering
P 84 Chapter Eight
P 85 jinn - in Arabian and Muslim mythology, an intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels
P 85 hooch - alcoholic liquor especially when inferior or illicitly made or obtained
P 90 palimpsest - many layers - whose apron was a palimpsest of dark stains
P 97 Chapter Nine
P 99 mollifying - soothing
P 100 remit (noun) - reward
P 112 - scatological invective - insults referring to excrement
P 115 Chapter Ten
P 117 harrowed - stolen
Part Three
P 135 Chapter Eleven
P 135 bodega - wine shop
P 135 vestibule - hall
P 144 Chapter Twelve
P 159 Chapter Thirteen
P 169 Chapter Fourteen
P 171 peonage - convict labor
P 174 tray of the curb
P 175 - depredation - damage
P 182 - tell - mound or hill
P 185 Chapter Fifteen
P 191 Chapter Sixteen
P 202 Epilogue
P 210 nattered - broadcasted

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