Cousins Study Questions


  1. "You’re not dead yet are you? There was a long moment in which Cammy held her breath. . . . It was a rough game that Tut manged to play with Cammy. Pretend dead-as-a-doornail was what Cammy called it" (10). Discuss how this game is ironically connected to the theme of the story. Don’t overlook such statements as "held her breath" in your analysis.
  2. "Gram lost plenty of time. She could speed it up, though, when she felt like it" foreshadows and hints at the element of time in the story. How is it possible to lose time and "speed it up"? (14)
  3. The Care. "Beyond the glass door was bright sunshine and summer. Shade trees and woods surrounded the Care on three sides. Outside, Cammy wondered why all of the folks didn’t just walk on away and live under the trees in the woods" (23). Consider the implications of nominalization of "to care." Discuss the spatial dynamics of this description.
  4. "But Patty Ann wouldn’t be disturbed until she had practices her entire lesson" (28). Who is speaking here? What predictions can be made about Patty Ann and about Cammie?
  5. "She looked at Patty Ann. Cammy felt hard as nails inside toward her one second. The next second, she felt peevish that she wasn’t more like her" (73). Discuss this ambivalence.
  6. "Out there was an odd bluish color. Kind of sickly, and dark bluish-green. But mostly it was a blue mystery. . . . She called it the blue devil. All the kids Cammy’s age called it the bluety" (85).
  7. "I won’t get an A this time, her look seemed to say" (92). What is the reference here? Discuss the various implications and meanings of this statement in the context of not only what is happening but what has happened.
  8. "A silence came over everything. It pinned this day to them forever after. . . Not a trace" (94). This is poetry–almost. Explain.
  9. "Are you my daddy?" (104). Look at the importance of father figures in this story. How present are they? Vital or not? Discuss the effects of not having fathers present in the girls’ lives, their mothers’ lives.
  10. "Put a focus on . . . each little thing comes before you. Just one thing at a time. That’s how it’s done. Always be ready. I’m ready" (120). Discuss what is being said here and how this is compared to the previous action of the book.