Study Guide

Alex Cross's Trial Violence

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It looks like no one ever told most of the characters in Alex Cross's Trial to use their words. The white citizens of Eudora repeatedly resort to punching, drowning, lynching, shooting, and stabbing men for no reason other than racism. What's worse? They turn violence into entertainment. Citizens build a grandstand and hire a photographer for the lynchings so whole families can watch them together, complete with refreshments. This cavalier attitude toward violence only makes what they are doing that much worse. It's one thing to hurt someone, but it's something else entirely to take such delight in it.

Questions About Violence

  1. What is the relationship between violence and racism in the novel? Are the two always linked? If not, when aren't they and what does this tell you about violence in the book? How do the Black citizens of Eudora respond to violence?
  2. How did you react to the historical violence described in Alex Cross's Trial? Was it too explicit for a young adult novel? Why or why not?
  3. What changes about Ben's reaction to violence when he experiences it? Why do you think he's a victim of violence in the novel?
  4. Which is worse: the fact that violence is taking place at all, or the idea that it should be entertaining? Why are people taking their families to a lynching? What does this tell us about desensitization to violence in the community?

Chew on This

Violence is primarily used in the novel to shock and make sure readers hate the White Raiders.

Physical violence in the novel is simply a symptom of the deeper ideological violence of racism.

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