Study Guide

Autobiography of My Dead Brother Fear

By Walter Dean Myers

Fear

Chapter 1

I felt jumpy, not just when a strange car drove by, or some guys I didn't know were on the block, but all the time—even when I was in my kitchen having breakfast or in the supermarket or at home in bed. (1.39)

Neighborhood violence makes Jesse really fearful. It's a fear that follows him even into places where he knows that he's safe. Let's be real: If you can get shot just walking out the front door, it's understandable that you don't feel totally safe in the kitchen.

Chapter 11

"Look, Rise, you talking about drive-bys and people getting—you know—don't that freak you out, man?"

Rise leaned back in his chair. "Truthfully?" he asked. "Yeah, it do." (11.24-11.25)

Of course, it doesn't freak him out enough to, you know, not order drive-bys. Why do you think that Rise doesn't seem to feel the same level of fear as Jesse does?

Chapter 12

It scared me. The same way that seeing a dead kid lying in a coffin scared me. Seeing dead kids scared me because it made me know I could die. And seeing Rise on the deal made me feel the same way. (12.32)

Jesse isn't just scared for Rise; he's scared for himself. He knows that if Rise became a drug dealer, there's a possibility he could end up that way, too. His fear of disappointing Rise comes right up against his fear of dying or going to jail.

Chapter 13

For a few seconds the fear I had felt had just filled me up, had flared up into every part of me. My hands were stiff with fear, my heart was racing, my gut was turning, I was sweating. (13.39)

Jesse mistakes a couple of cops for Diablos and truly believes he's about to die. Immediately afterward, he goes home and goes to sleep. Fear is exhausting.

"Everybody's getting nervous." Gun stretched his legs out in front of him. "My folks were talking it up big-time last night." (13.16)

We've seen Jesse's parents talk about how worried they are about neighborhood violence. From Gun's comment, we understand that similar conversations are taking place in other families, too.

Chapter 15

Looking at Rise, thinking about him, was like going to a horror movie and seeing an evil doll that killed people. (15.12)

The "new" Rise is super scary, and all Jesse can do is watch him in abject horror. He's both scared of losing his oldest friend and scared of who Rise has become. It's a bummer.

Chapter 17

My eye was hurting; I was mad at Dad for being afraid for me, even though in my heart I knew I was afraid, too. (17.55)

People express fear in a lot of different ways. Unfortunately, Jesse's dad expresses it through his fists.

Chapter 19

Maybe it wasn't that Rise was sure that nothing would happen at the meeting. Maybe he just wasn't afraid of dying. (19.48)

Rise isn't afraid to die—he treats death like it's nothing for much of the book—but when it's his turn to bite it, well, let's just say he changes his tune.

Chapter 22

"Yo, Jesse. I'm scared, man. I'm so scared!" (22.55)

These are Rise's last words before he dies. Do you think that if he'd realized sooner how scary dying is, he would have acted differently? Why or why not?

"Every day of my life I pray for you and hope with all my heart that you'll be all right. That a cab won't hit you and a stray bullet won't hit you and that you'll get a decent education and that no gang will get you and no dope will find its way into you." (17.40)

Jesse's mom admits that she lives with fear, too. She can think of approximately ten million ways Jesse could get killed every time he leaves the house. That must be hard to live with day in and day out.