Study Guide

Alex Cross's Trial Passivity

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We bet you've heard this one before: ff you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. See, sometimes being passive about a situation only allows injustice to continue. Just take Eudora in Alex Cross's Trial for example. Many citizens aren't directly involved in lynching people, but they also do nothing to stop it. And President Roosevelt does the same—he knows there's trouble in the South, but instead of dealing with it, he lets it run its course. Sure he sends Ben down there to investigate, but he doesn't get out of the oval office and actually do anything to stop the violence. In these ways, the book asks us to think about whether inaction is just as bad as action.

Questions About Passivity

  1. How does Ben view President Roosevelt's silence on the lynching in Eudora? Do you think his characterization of passivity is fair? Give evidence from the text to back your answer up.
  2. What would change in the town if the court system found the White Raiders guilty? How does the citizens' passive response affect the KKK or White Raiders? How does it impact the lives of Black people?
  3. Who is responsible for the lynchings in Eudora? Is everyone involved in some way? Are their tiers of responsibility? Is anyone not responsible at all?
  4. Is inaction as bad as action? Why or why not? Use examples from the text to support your claim.

Chew on This

Passivity is presented as a negative character trait in Alex Cross's Trial—the passive characters are just as much to blame for the lynchings in Eudora as those who kill people.

Even though Ben would rather everyone join the fight against lynching, the truth is that passivity is not as bad as he imagines it to be.

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