Study Guide

Alligator Bayou Foolishness and Folly

By Donna Jo Napoli

Foolishness and Folly

There are at least two kinds of foolishness in the world—the kind that happens when you should've known better, and the kind that happens accidentally because you couldn't have known better. And since Calo is a new kid in a strange country in Alligator Bayou, he makes plenty of mistakes that fall under the second category. So though he's just trying to do the right things, be a good person, and maybe make some friends, we see him misstep and misunderstand throughout the book—particularly as far as white people are concerned. Then again, white people have all kinds of awful rules and ideas in this book, so perhaps they are the truly foolish ones.

Questions About Foolishness and Folly

  1. Besides Calo, who else acts foolishly? What makes you think so?
  2. Are there different types of foolishness portrayed in the book? What types? Who gives good examples?
  3. Often, the white people make other races out to be foolish. Why do you think they do that? Does anyone portray white folks as foolish?

Chew on This

Foolishness drives both sides of the book's climax: Dr. Hodge is foolish for killing Francesco's goats instead of going to the sheriff, and Francesco is foolish for having ignored the doctor's warnings for so long.

The only truly foolish characters in this book are white folks—the ultimate fool is racism.

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