Study Guide

Al Capone Does My Shirts Duty

By Gennifer Choldenko

Duty

In Al Capone Does My Shirts, our main man Moose is the kind of person that always follows the rules. But is it always good to follow the rules? Does Moose only follow the rules because he's afraid to do anything differently—to follow his heart?

Don't get us wrong: It's not a bad thing that Moose is generally a by-the-book kind of kid. He listens to his parents and generally tries to steer clear of trouble (which is no easy feat with Piper hanging around). But sometimes Moose himself wonders if he will just follow the rules for his whole life, which really opens up a conversation about what it means to do the right thing. In the end, it's pretty clear that you have to do what's right because you know its right—not just because you're afraid of getting into trouble.

Questions About Duty

  1. Does Moose's relationship to duty change over the course of the book? Why or why not? Give examples from the text.
  2. How is Moose's sense of duty similar to his dad's? How is it different?
  3. Why is Moose so hard on himself at the beginning of the book when he talks about how he always follows the rules? What are some of the risks of behaving this way?

Chew on This

Moose's biggest change in the book is that he comes to understand responsibility in an adult way, rather than blindly following rules like a kid.

One of Moose's defining traits is that he feels a sense of duty to understand Natalie, not change her.

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