Study Guide

Autobiography of My Dead Brother Violence

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Chapter 1

I knew the bonding thing was about Bobby G. being killed. Mom was getting upset about so many kids getting shot and had already mentioned that maybe we should move out to the burbs. (1.61)

The violence in Jesse's neighborhood is so bad that his parents are thinking about moving. What do you think prevents them from leaving?

Maybe one day those left behind will finally be able to do what we hope for him—to rest in peace without the violence that blows through our community like the winds of winter. (1.3)

At Bobby's funeral, Pastor Loving speaks to the issue of neighborhood violence. Bobby was killed in a drive-by—and he's just the first person we're aware of in the book who dies this way.

Chapter 4

Near the curb a little girl was beating her doll and screaming at it, and I nudged C.J. for him to look. The girl was about eight and skinny. Her hair wasn't combed. (4.15)

Gun violence isn't the only problem in Jesse's neighborhood—there's also domestic violence. Chances are this poor little girl has been beaten at home. Kids often model the way they're treated.

Chapter 10

"If a white cop sees you with a cap gun, he's going to use it as an excuse to shoot you," White Clara said. (10.6)

It's worth noting that the violence in Jesse's neighborhood isn't only perpetrated by the people who live there. Sometimes cops are the bad guys, too. Yikes.

"Drive-by!" White Clara screamed, and went over the side rail as the first bullets hit the steps. (10.11)

While none of Jesse's friends are killed in this shooting, his pal Benny is shot in the hand. Later, we find out it's Rise's fault.

Chapter 12

"They're violent as anything. Calvin said they'd shoot you and make bets on how you going to fall." (12.3)

Sometimes shootings are "official business" amongst gang members; other times they're committed just for "fun." When violence is perpetrated for amusement, you know it's not particularly exceptional in a community.

Chapter 16

He stood up and got as close to me as he could, trying to punk me down. "You want to step to me?" I asked him. "Let's go outside and get to stepping." (16.30)

Jesse's not a violent guy for the most part, but if pressed, he'll stand up for himself. What other moments can you think of when he puffs up his chest and seems ready to throw down?

Chapter 17

I didn't see the blow coming, and it caught me hard across the face. It stung my eye bad, and I started to bring my hands to my face, then stopped and just looked at him. (17.11)

Why do you think Jesse's father hits him? How unusual do you think him hitting Jesse is? To jump start your thinking, be sure to read up on fear elsewhere in this section.

Chapter 20

"We were all looking out the window and we could see them shooting. One of them had an Uzi, and he hit a pregnant lady in her foot and she was screaming. It was terrible." (20.67)

Sometimes innocent passers-by are injured or killed in drive-bys. We could be wrong, but here we're assuming the pregnant lady wasn't in a gang.

Chapter 22

I asked White Clara if she didn't feel sorry for the Diablos who had been shot, and she shrugged.

"How you going to shed tears for somebody who wants to be in that life, yo?" (22.8-22.9)

Jesse, for one, feels sorry for the dead Diablos. But White Clara is a hard woman. She seems to think violence is a price people willingly pay when they get involved in gang activity.

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