As I read the prologue once the knife game had been introduced, I was just waiting for someone to get hurt. It was just a question of how badly. It seemed less likely to me that the boys might get caught by a parent before this happened.
Arthur seemed solid and dependable, likely to follow orders even if he didn't always agree with them or like them. Jake seemed flighty and unreliable, the kind of boy who got away with everything. Perhaps the golden child of the family and classroom.
2. How would you answer the questions that conclude the prologue?
a. Was Jake surprised because he had never considered the possibility that he might be a less-than-perfect shot? Did he have that much confidence in himself, that little self-doubt?I assumed as I read the part where Jake hit Arthur in the foot with his knife that it had been a deliberate act. Perhaps Jake had been planning it since he started trying to convince Arthur to play the game. I doubt Jake is used to suffering consequences very much. I think he might try to explain it away as simply an accident. But his jeering words seemed to show he harbors negative feelings towards Arthur.
b. Or was he merely surprised at how easy it was to give in to an impulse, and carry through the thought that lay in your mind? Simply to do whatever you wanted to do, and damn the consequences.
3. What accounts for the differences between those who follow the rules, like Arthur, and those who defy them?
I think it is a matter of both personality characteristics and upbringing which leads a person to follow rules or break them. I also believe that a given person might choose to follow some rules but defy others. I think obedience or rebellion tells you something about a person.
4. Which came more easily for you as an adolescent: obedience or defiance?
I was generally far more obedient as an adolescent than either of my sisters. Although I would argue with adults if they had assessed a situation wrong or I felt strongly of my point of view.