Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jim the Boy -- Book I: Birthday Boy


Jim knows that he makes his mother sad sometimes. Jim wants to eat as much breakfast as he can cause his uncles eat large amounts of food and Jim wants to be like his uncles.

A Day of Work

Well, not a whole day since Jim going home "sick" before it's even noon. Jim can be stubborn when he doesn't want to give the newest hoe up. Jim can be boastful and confident when he claims he knows how to hoe already and in his desire to beat Abraham hoeing. Then he acts like a young child, crying when he finds he's barely accomplished much and goofing off playing instead of working. Jim can be deceitful when he "replants" the corn stalk he has broken in his hoeing. Jim has a lot to learn as he starts his journey to become a man.

An Unexpected Gift

Pete Hunt seems to like Jim. Perhaps because he took a liking to him when Jim was a baby and Pete was living with them or perhaps he took a liking to Jim's mother during that time and so has a soft spot for her boy. The uncles prolly mentioned to Whitey Whiteside about Jim's birthday and what they'd gotten him so he gave Jim a baseball to match their gifts.


Uncle Zeno told Jim the story about Uncle Al and the chicks to make a point relating what he did then to what Jim did today. He hopes that Jim will never lie to him again. He also wants to let Jim know that Uncle Al did something similar so not to feel so bad over it.

After Supper

Joking occurs and the air is cleared between Jim and the Uncles. Jim gets his birthday cake and gifts and is very surprised. They had fooled him.

Jim at Bat

The previous five sections were told from Jim's point of view. This one is told from Uncle Zeno's. The uncles want the best for Jim.

Discussion Questions

2. When is Jim's birthday? Check Zeno's letter in the opening pages. So what day is Jim's tenth birthday? If Jim's mother is "not yet thirty" (p. 7) now, she must have been 19 when he was born ten years ago. Would that have been unusual in 1924?

Jim's birthday is June 15, 1924. So Jim's tenth birthday occurs on June 15, 1934. I don't think it was unusual for that time to marry and have children young.

Growing an extra digit in his age seemed a miracle to Jim, now 1-0 instead of merely 9. Do you know anyone who grew a third digit and became 1-0-0? Saturday (tomorrow) will be my oldest granddaughter's 21st birthday, a milestone. For some the special birthday is Sweet Sixteen. For others the darkest one is the half-century mark, celebrated by friends wearing black. 3. What birthday stands out for you?

I had a great aunt, I think or someone of distant relation, turn 100 when I was pretty young. I remember snippets of being at the party.

As for which birthday turning a number year stands out to me, I honestly have to say none have so far and I'm not particularly worried about turning 30 or anything. My family has always really celebrated our birthdays so each has been special. I do have some favorites of spending nice times with my family and friends. Last year, my then boyfriend, now husband and my mom threw a surprise party for me. I had no idea. And I'd never had a surprise party before. This year my mom and I are throwing one for him. He has no idea.

4. What birthday presents did Jim get? Overall, what did you think about Jim's tenth birthday?

Jim got a baseball bat and glove from his mother and the uncles and a new baseball from Whitey Whiteside. I think it was a good birthday for Jim. Sure, the morning wasn't great but it ended well with cake and presents. And I think Jim learned something about growing up and working as a man.

5.What did you make of the scene about baptizing the chicks? And what do the uncles mean by this exchange (p. 39)?
Uncle Zeno: "Allie turned out to be a pretty good farmer, when you consider how he started out."

Uncle Coran: "At least we can be thankful he didn't try to become a preacher."

Uncle Al: "That's for sure ... I would've had to be a Methodist to keep from drowning people."

See my comments in the Baptism section above. I might not be getting the meaning of the exchange. Cause all I can think of is that Uncle Al is a good farmer now despite unintentionally harming some chicks when he was young. Maybe Methodists don't dunk during their baptisms?

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