The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
I knew they weren't going to waste any time with this new guy, it was going to be real easy and real quick with him. He was like nobody we'd seen before. He was raggedy, he was country, he was skinny and he was smiling at everybody a mile a minute. (2.50)
Kenny certainly seems eager to see what the other kids do to Rufus on his first day. Why doesn't Kenny feel sorry for Rufus here? Isn't he supposed to be the nice guy?
Most of the kids were just staring. Then Larry Dunn said, "Lord today, look at the nappy-headed, down-home, country corn flake the cat done drugged up from Mississippi, y'all!" About a million fingers pointed at the new kids and a million laughs almost knocked them over. (2.52)
Rufus and Cody aren't from Mississippi, but they are from the South. Why do the kids at Clark see that as a negative things? Could this be a little history alert? (Think: how does that relate to the historical context of the Civil Rights Movement?)
"You see? You see how you kids is? This boy shows some manners and some respect and y'all want to attack him, that's why nan one of y'all's ever gonna be nothin'!" The bus driver was really mad. (2.55)
Okay, so apparently manners and respect aren't qualities that will advance a kid in the social order of Clark Elementary. But in other types of communities, these qualities would be desirable. Can you think of social groups where manners and respect would be admired? What about intelligence? Why do you think different communities have different social rules?