Study Guide

Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal Power

By Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill


If there's one thing that Boston could use a lot less of, based on Black Mass, it's people with power.

You have gangsters like Whitey Bulger who use violence and intimidation to get their way. You have FBI agents like John Connolly who happily break the rules and endanger innocent lives. You even have politicians like Billy Bulger, Whitey's little bro, who put on a pretty public face but are likely getting into some serious dirt behind the scenes.

In each of these instances, Black Mass reveals the serious consequences to such flagrant abuses of power.

Questions About Power

  1. What are some examples of people who use their power corruptly? Who uses their power in a just manner?
  2. Does Billy Bulger exploit his power as a senator? Why or why not?
  3. How does Bulger hold power over South Boston? Is there any psychological element to his domination of the neighborhood?
  4. How do Fred Wyshak and Jeremiah O'Sullivan differ in their uses of legal power? What does this say about each respective man?

Chew on This

Billy Bulger exploits his power as a senator because he acts as a legal cover for many of Whitey's illicit activities.

Fred Wyshak differs from Jeremiah O'Sullivan because he's not concerned with gaining greater power for himself within government, but rather simply with finding justice.