Study Guide

Autobiography of My Dead Brother Change

By Walter Dean Myers

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Chapter 1

There was a time when Rise would stay overnight at my house at least once a week, and I knew he liked it when he did. He doesn't stay over anymore and I can understand that, too. There are things you just don't do after a while. (1.68)

At first, Jesse attributes the changes in Rise to plain old growin' up. Eventually, though, he comes to realize that he's wrong and Rise has actually changed. Like, a lot and in really important ways.

Chapter 3

"So what makes you think Rise is different?" We were sitting in the church at the organ and C.J. was doodling over the keys. (3.1)

In a way, this is the question that plagues Jesse throughout the whole book. He tries to talk to C.J. about it a few times, but he can't quite articulate what's going on.

Chapter 7
Sidney Rock

"What do you think of Mason?" Sidney asked me as he parked the car.

"He's different," I said. "He's like a different kind of guy." (7.41-7.42)

Spoiler alert: what's making Rise act different is criminal activity. Just like we see with Mason, here. In this book, criminals are a different sort of people than non-criminals.

Chapter 8

I told myself that if I did his autobiography right, if I did a really good job, maybe I could change him back to what I knew. (8.69)

Jesse needs to learn that no matter what he does, he can't change Rise. The only way Rise is going to change to a different version of himself is by wanting to—and right now, Rise definitely doesn't seem to want to.

Chapter 11

I didn't know how a person could be different. Not so suddenly, anyway. (11.112)

Psst… We bet Rise actually didn't change so subtly. Instead, we bet that he changed in little bits at a time and Jesse either did his darndest to ignore it or just didn't recognize the shifts in his friend until a whole bunch had already happened.

When Rise laughed, he looked young again. I hadn't noticed that he didn't look young anymore. (11.22)

Sounds like being a drug lord really ages you. What do you think that's about?

Chapter 15

"You're becoming a different person," I imagined myself saying. "Somebody I almost don't know." (15.11)

Just because Jesse doesn't know how to talk to Rise about his concerns doesn't mean he doesn't think about it. He really wants to find a way to get through to his buddy about the ways in which he's changed.

Chapter 20

A year before, Rise had just been an ordinary dude; now he was sounding like Moses coming down from the mountainside, passing out commandments, signing autographs, and blowing kisses to his fans. (20.27)

Why do you think becoming a criminal has made Rise more egotistical? Do you think it's real and that Rise really thinks he's all that and a bag of chips, or do you think it's an act?

Chapter 22

This wasn't the Rise I had grown up with […]. That Rise had died somewhere in the past year, perhaps even the past few weeks. The Rise I knew could not have set anybody up to be shot, to be killed. (22.4)

It's one thing to sell drugs; it's another to order people's deaths. How do you think Rise rationalizes the latter to himself? Or has he changed so much that he just doesn't care?

People I didn't even know were asking me questions. It made me mad to think that my friends, kids and grownups who thought I was a nice guy one day, could think the next day I was shooting people in the streets. (22.8)

Wait a second, Jesse… Isn't that exactly what happened with Rise? And here's a second question for you: If it happened to Rise, could it happen with Jesse? Hmm…

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