Study Guide

Autobiography of My Dead Brother Mortality

By Walter Dean Myers

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The novel's title drops a pretty big hint that it's going to involve at least one death, and it doesn't disappoint. From beginning to end, Autobiography of My Dead Brother is a bloodbath. Bobby Green dies; a cab driver dies; three members of the Diablos gang die; Rise dies. In fact, so many people die that we're probably forgetting someone.

Importantly, the cause of death for each and every character is the same: gunshot wounds. As a result, Jesse lives in a state of constant fear for his own life (as do his parents). Other characters, especially Rise, treat dying with a dreadful sort of casualness. He orders hits on other people like it's no big deal, but when he's faced with his own imminent death… well, that's a different story.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Pick a character and describe how they cope with their fear of death. What does this tell you about their character? What does it reveal about the environment they live in?
  2. Which character copes with death in the healthiest manner? Explain your answer.
  3. Do you think Jesse's parents will move their family to the suburbs following Rise's death? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Autobiography of My Dead Brother describes violent death as an inevitability—it just is what it is in this neighborhood.

Autobiography of My Dead Brother describes violent death as the result of the choices people make. There's nothing inevitable about it.

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