Study Guide

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Foolishness and Folly

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Foolishness and Folly

I knew he deserved whatever happened [...] because he was being a bad influence on me. Nazi Parachutes Attack America and Get Shot Down over the Flint River by Captain Byron Watson and his Flamethrower of Death looked like a real cool movie for me to make too. If Momma just gave Byron some stupid punishment, then maybe it would be worth it for me to flush some Nazis down the drain myself. But if you got set on fire for doing it the movie wasn't worth making. (5.46)

Like brother, like brother? Maybe Momma takes Byron's actions so seriously because she's worried he might be passing his foolishness on to Kenny.

"So, Joetta, don't you see how Momma has to help Byron understand how dangerous and painful fire can be? Don't you see we've tried everything and nothing seems to get through that rock head of his?" (5.57)

Um… WHAT IS HAPPENING?! Do you think Byron deserves to be burned for playing with matches? Is this the right way to teach Byron a lesson?

I knew now why he'd been so excited and happy when he found out about getting "free food" at Mitchell's. By was signing up for stuff that Momma and Dad didn't even know about! (6.58)

Foolishness has a lot to do with not thinking ahead. This food isn't really free; Momma and Dad will have to pay for all of it eventually, and we're guessing they won't be too happy with the bill Byron has run up.

I loved times like this when Byron was about to really get it and couldn't pay me back for teasing him. (7.39)

Hmmm, maybe Kenny isn't so different from Byron after all.

"Byron, why won't you behave? Why won't you think about what's going to happen to you when you do something wrong? Why do you always do stuff to get people mad at you?" (7.75)

Why do you think Byron can't behave? Why does he keep screwing up?

"Well, judging by the condition of your hair I wouldn't say thinking is one of your strong suits, is it." (7.108)

Does Byron's foolishness come from a lack of intelligence (an inability to think about his actions) or does he just not care?

"You've cut school so much that Mr. Alums has come here three times to see what's wrong with you, you've been lighting fires, you've been taking change out of my purse, you've been in fights, you had that trouble up at Mitchell's Food Fair, you had that...that...problem with Mary Ann Hill, you set mousetraps in the backyard for birds, you fell out of that tree when you were trying to see if that poor cat always landed on its feet, you got that conk, you joined that gang...There's just too much, Byron." (8.173)

Yikes. That is a lot of foolishness for one kid. Does anything on this list surprise you? Does this change your impression of Byron at all?

Who could understand Byron? Here was a chance for another Fantastic Adventure and he was going in the wrong direction. Something was wrong with him. If he was in Flint and you told him not to do something he'd go right out and do it, but now he was acting real dull and square. (13.13)

We're with Kenny. What has changed between Flint and Birmingham?

It also seems like the worse the trouble is that you get into, the more steps it takes to get there. Sort of like you're getting a bunch of little warnings on the way; sort of like if you really wanted to you could turn around. (13.35)

Ah, the moral of the story, so to speak.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...