Study Guide for Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald CHARACTERS Describe the personality and appearance of each character below Michael MacKenzie just turned 17 dark ha by ikz12691

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									                        Study Guide for Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald

CHARACTERS Describe the personality and appearance of each character below.

Michael MacKenzie: just turned 17; dark hair (8)athletic—runs track (8), a ―jock‖(75); works as
a life-guard (34); plans to go to college (12)
Josh MacKenzie: Michael’s younger brother, thirteen; moody, likes to clown; unruly                  hair
tucked into a backwards baseball cap (33);
Tom MacKenzie: Michael’s father; ―manager at the local A & P‖ grocery store, supportive of his
sons’ ambitions (43);
Karen MacKenzie: Michael’s mother; works as a florist (44)
Jenna Ward: protagonist #2; fifteen years old (41); dark blonde hair (20); shoulder-                length,
straight, parted in the middle(31); enormous, sad eyes (32)
Meredith Ward: Jenna’s mother; ―an account executive for a large New York                    advertising
agency‖         (27); extremely well-organized; always in control; excellent swimmer, graceful
diver (79)
Charlie Ward: Jenna’s father; shot and killed while repairing shingles on his roof; an              upper
        manager at AT&T (phone company)
Joe Sadowski: dirty-blonde, shoulder-length, wavy hair (12); wears a single, gold                   skull
earring         (12); works at Burger King to pay for his car and gas (9); has a             drinking
problem; juvenile record for vandalism (13);
Darcy Kelly: Michael’s girlfriend; long dark red hair (36) hangs almost to her waist,               curly (46);
Michael likes ―to watch her leaving and entering rooms. She had the
        most graceful body he’d ever seen.‖(37)
Amy Ruggerio: ―sad‖ brown eyes(8) long, wavy, dark brown hair, wears lots of make - up and
hair gel –looks like a ―slut‖, has a ―nice face‖ (39); has ―full‖ lips (56);
Pappy: Amy’s grandfather; she lives with him (56); short, wiry, milky blue eyes, thick              white
hair,a white goatee (a beard on the chin only) (101)
Andrea Sloan: Jenna’s best friend (65); stubborn (67) short, dark, curly hair; has a crush
        on Michael
Jason Friedman: Jenna’s boyfriend; tall and thin with an ―impish‖ face (74) bony shoulders (91);
interested in science, working on a summer project for a science
        talent search (87);
Dave Zelenski: local police chief (19) wears glasses (26) has thinning hair (27)
Doug Boyle: pudgy detective assigned to the case ; nicknamed ―the Hangman‖ because
Annie Rico: the town gossip (86); works in her husband’s pharmacy at the cosmetics counter
(85) supplies the Wards with information about the case
1. Michael MacKenzie’s birthday occurs on what special day?
        The Fourth of July
2. How old is he on this birthday?
3. Who gives Michael a rifle for his birthday?
        His grandfather; the rifle is old and belonged to his grandfather.

4. Why is Michael so excited the day after his birthday party?
      He is going to take his driver’s test to get his license in time for senior year. (7)

                      Study Guide for Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald

5. What do Michael and Joe Sadowski hear about on the way to the DMV?
       Over the radio they hear the news that a man working on his roof was shot and          killed by a
stray bullet around noon on the Fourth of July. (11)

6. Describe how Michael feels about the news.
      The following lines describe Michael’s reaction to the news; we can infer from his
      reaction that he suspects he may be to blame and is very upset and horrified.
             Michael never finished parking the car. In fact, he was a mile down the road,
             heading no place in particular, before he realized he was still behind the
             wheel and presumably in control…Michael’s hands were so wet he was
             barely able to hold the steering wheel. (11)

7. What does Joe persuade Michael to do?
      to hide the gun and keep the secret that Michael had fired a shot (12-13)

8. Describe what Jenna Ward feels the day after her father’s death.
      She feels numb; She is having trouble understanding that he is dead.: ―…in some
      strange way it seemed…just like any other day…Jenna could not make herself
      believe otherwise.‖ (22)

9. How does Meredith Ward deal with her husband’s death?
      She distracts herself by focusing on house work.

10. Describe Jenna’s relationship with her mother.
      There is tension between them. They don’t understand each other. They argue
      often. ―Her mother would be furious. Jenna shrugged at the thought. So, what else
      was new?‖ (21)

11. How does Michael feel when he sees Jenna’s picture in the newspaper for the first
       He is miserable and tortured by the thought that he has caused her pain.
       Michael tossed the paper on the table and sat down, bracing his head with his
       hands. He did not want to …know anything about these people. But he could not
       seem to keep his eyes from gobbling up every word, even though his mind
       screamed in protest.‖ (32)

12. Explain the allusion and the symbolism in the quote, ―The ink left a dark smudge on
    his skin, like ashes on Ash Wednesday.‖ (32)
       The allusion is to the Roman Catholic tradition of marking the sign of the cross in
       ashes on the forehead of Christians. This ceremony is done before Easter
       (celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ) to remind people that they will
       eventually die and return to dust, and the person who is marked is showing that he
       is sorry for his sins in order to be forgiven and live in the afterlife.
                SO---early in the novel, the author is telling us through this allusion and the
                mark left on Michael’s forehead, that Michael feels guilty and is truly sorry
                for causing Charlie Ward’s death. The mark is a symbol of guilt and regret.

                      Study Guide for Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald

13. Contrast Josh’s reaction to the shooting to Michael’s. Why are their reactions so
         Josh is amused by the shooting. He is unable to understand the pain of others—he
         is immature and still very self-centered.
         Michael is more mature and capable of understanding what others feel. He       knows he
is responsible for the death and is suffering feelings of guilt, but he is also
         very afraid of what will happen to him if people find out he’s responsible.

14. What does Michael do with his rifle?
      He puts it into a plastic pipe and buries it under a pile of lumber.

15. Why is Michael uncomfortable when he sees Amy Ruggerio at the pool?
      ―His instinct was to ignore her…but he felt his hand jerk up in an awkward gesture
      of acknowledgment.‖ (39) He may feel guilty for making out with her only for
      sexual gratification without caring for he r, and also, his girlfriend is present and he
      probably feels dishonest.

16. Summarize the story that Michael remembers about the young girl who drowned;
    explain how this story relates symbolically to the title Swallowing Stones.
       Two little girls were swimming in a nearby lake. Each girl would take a turn diving to
       the bottom and collecting a small stone in her teeth to bring up to the surface. One
       little girl must have run out of air and panicked so that she sucked the stone into
       her windpipe. She died. Michael thinks that if the girl had swallowed the stone
       instead of panicking, she would have lived.

17. Explain the irony of Mr. MacKenzie’s statements about the shooting:
      A stupid tragedy…That’s what happens when irresponsible people play around with
      guns…That’s why I’ve taught my boys to respect guns. (45)
              Dramatic irony: Michael and we, the readers, know that Michael is probably
              guilty of the shooting, but his father and the family do not.

18. What does Joe Sadowski think about Amy Ruggerio?
      He invites her to go with him to M’s birthday party, but then he tells Michael that she is a
      ―gift‖ for him; behind her back he refers to her as ―the pig‖ and claims she is really dumb
      because she actually thought he wanted to go out with her. (48)
      He seems to consider her an object to be used for sexual gratification. His insults and his
      statement to Michael denying he had any real interest in her might be an attempt to conceal
      his disappointment that a girl of Amy's low social standing would reject him.

19. When Joe gets drunk at Steven Chang’s party and says to Michael, ―You ain’t gonna
    preach to me I hope…Nah, you wouldn’t dare (50), what might his words foreshadow
    about how his relationship with Michael has changed?
       Joe seems to be threatening Michael—foreshadowing that Joe might one day use
       the secret of the shooting to blackmail Michael in some way. The threat reveals growing
       tension between the two friends since the shooting.

20. Why does Darcy dislike Joe?
      Darcy ―hated it when [Michael] drank , and since Joe often gets drunk, she doesn’t
      like him. (49)
21. What does the following quote tell us about Michael’s character?
                     Study Guide for Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald

      Michael knew that if the cops spotted them getting into his car, they’d probably ask
      to see his license…And walking beside Joe was like holding up a neon sign that
      screamed GO AHEAD AND BUST ME. But he didn’t dare leave his friend
             He is loyal to his friends: Joe will be in great trouble if found drunk and so
             will Steven for serving alcohol at the party.
             Also, Michael is self-sacrificing: willing to risk getting into trouble for people
             he cares about.

22. Instead of going home after work, Michael goes walking around town. List three places
    he visits.
       (1) the library (it’s closed)
       (2) Jenna Ward’s house; he watches it from the church doorway
       (3) Amy’s house; he spends the night there. (54—55)

24. How and why does Michael’s opinion of Amy change in this chapter?
      He begins to see her as a person instead of a stereotype. He begins to doubt what others
      have said about her and wonders why she supports the rumors by making herself look like
      "a slut".

JENNA ---CH. 6--8
25. Describe the disturbing dream Jenna has three nights in a row.
      She is being tangled in vines and dragged deep into the woods towards the Ghost
      Tree. The dream is very frightening, but Jenna was never afraid of the Ghost Tree
      before; in fact, she has fond memories associated with it so the fact that she is
      frightened by it in the dream is interesting. What does the tree symbolize?

26. Why do you think Jenna is comforted by keeping he r room in order and by working math
      These activities give her a feeling of control over her life at a time when she is
      being confronted with how little control people actually have over certain events, like

27. Explain how Jenna is like the clouds in the following quote:
      Overhead the dark clouds rumbled and threatened, but the rain never came. And
      when it was time to leave, Jenna stared down at the casket in front of her and
      wondered again, for the thousandth time, what she was supposed to be feeling. (64)
             The clouds are withholding the rain; still, we know a storm is coming
             Jenna withholds her feelings, but she is full of turmoil, and eventually her
             strong emotions must come out.

28. Why has Jenna avoided leaving her house since her father’s death?
      She can’t carry on as if nothing happened, but she is confused by her lack of
      emotion (it’s suppressed inside her); she doesn’t want to face the pity of her friends.
      Doing so would probably break her down and make her release her pent up              emotions,
which she is afraid to do. (See above item)

29. Where does Andrea persuade Jenna to go?
                      Study Guide for Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald

       To the community pool; Jenna’s boyfriend has come back to town from a family
       vacation and might be there.

30. Why does Meredith Ward feel angry about her husband’s death? ( Who is she angry
       She is very self-disciplined and maintains control over herself and her
       surroundings. Her husband’s death was beyond her control and makes her feel
       helpless. She is angry at God, or fate, for taking from her the life she feels she has
       worked hard for: ―If I worked hard, if I was a good wife and mother, if I was good at
       my job, kept a neat house…we’d all live to a ripe old age.‖ (70) and she’s angry at
       herself: ―I keep thinking that I failed him in some way…That there was something I
       could have---should have---done. And if I’d only done it, he’d still be here.‖ (71)

31. ―Jenna felt as if her entire body had been weighted down with rocks.‖ (71) Think about          the
story Michael remembered about the little girl who drowned, and the title of this
       novel. What is the author inferring about Jenna’s grief?
              Jenna’s pent-up emotions--- grief, anger, and guilt--- are like the ―stone‖ that
       drowned the little girl. Jenna must face the unpleasant reality of her father’s
              death and the feelings it has caused in order to move on with her life.

32. Jenna has begun to enter her room at night without turning on her light. Why?
       She has noticed a boy watching her at night from across the street and doesn’t want
       him to see her before sees him.

33. What happens to Jenna when she sees Jason at the pool, and then again that night
    when she speaks with him on the phone?
      She begins to hyperventilate and her heart is pounding: she’s having an anxiety

34. Read the following passage. What impression is created by the author’s choice of
    words (diction) in describing Jenna as she watches the boy?
              She could not have said why, but something deep inside her sensed his pain.
              That is why she stood, her forehead pressed against the window screen,
              watching over the boy…(78)

35. What does Jenna find out from Annie Rico?
      That the police know from what four-block area of town the deadly bullet came from.

36. When Jenna has a panic attack in the movie theater while on her date with Jason, what
    does Amy Ruggerio do?
      Amy calms her down during her panic attack by having her take deep breaths and
      putting cold towels on her neck.

37. Describe the dream that torments Michael. What does the dream mean?
      Michael is enjoying flying through the air, until he realizes that he is a bullet headed straight
      for Charlie Ward. Then he tries despera tely to change his course, but can't and wakes up
      just before the impact with Charlie's head. The dream represents Michael's life before and
      after the accident. Before he knew about Charlie's death, he was care-free and happy; now
      he is miserable with guilt and feels he has lost all control of his life.
                     Study Guide for Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald

38. What realization does Michael make in the chapter?
      He knows that he is the one responsible for Charlie Ward's death—that it was his
      bullet that killed Charlie.

39. What information does Michael learn from his brother and what does that information
    mean for Michael?

40. Where does Michael start to go often to forget about the shooting?
     He begins to visit Amy at home.

41. What can you infer about Amy from her willingness to allow Michael to cheat at
    Scrabble, and her attitude towards him when he gets irritated at her?
       She is vulnerable. She won't defend herself from abuse. She feels she does not
       deserve to be treated well.

42. What complicating incident occurs in Ch. 10 to interfere with Michael's relationship with
      Darcy and her friends follow Michael to Amy's house, and Darcy assumes that he is
      having sex with Amy, so she breaks up with him.

43. Why does Michael want to avoid his friends and family---the people who know him the
       He might be afraid that they will be able to tell he's guilty.

44. When Darcy calls Amy a pig, how does Michael react? Why?
      Michael has begun to know Amy and care about her. He calls her a friend, and he
      defends his friends.

45. Why was Michael glad when Darcy breaks up with him?
      He felt pressure around her to confess and explain why he acting so strangely lately. It will
      be easier to keep the terrible secret without those who know him asking him questions and
      trying to figure out what is wrong with him.

46. Read the following passage: Explain what mood this passage creates. Name two
    literary devices the author uses (imagery does not count)?
        The night the police came to the MacKenzie's front door was the same night a renegade
        tornado tore the rooftops off fourteen units in the apartment complex behind the A&P. It
        peeled them off like an old brown banana skin, and no one saw it coming. On that particular
        night in early August, the sky was the color of an oxidized penny and the air was deathly
        still (112).

      The passage creates a suspenseful and frightening mood because we know that the police
      are getting closer to the truth. Also, Michael feels conflict inside him as he deals with his
      guilt and his fear of being found out. The storm is a symbol for trouble and turmoil within
      Michael; the event of the storm striking foreshadows what is coming for Michael when the
      truth is made known to his friends and family.

      47. Why is Doug Boyle nick-named the "hang-man"?
            He enjoys catching and punishing guilty teenagers.
                     Study Guide for Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald

      48. What do the police detectives tell the MacKenzies about the progress in the case at this
             They know where the bullet came from within four blocks.

      50. What do Doug Boyle and Sergeant Healey ask the MacKenzies?
            They want to examine any guns or rifles that the family owns, and to know if they
            know anything about what weapons their neighbors own.

      51. How does Michael complicate his situation and his relationship with Joe?
            He lies that Joe borrowed the rifle and that it was stolen from Joe's car, so that Joe
            will have to lie also to back him up. Consequences for Joe if the lies are discovered
            will be worse because Joe has a juvenile record, so Michael is putting Joe in a very
            bad position.

52. In Ch. 11 we learn that, like Jenna, Michael is familiar with the Ghost Tree. What memories
    and feelings does he associate with the tree?
       Michael remembers spending nights exchanging scary stories with his friends under the
        Ghost Tree—these memories were of fun times.

53. How does Joe feel about being questioned by the police?
      He seems to enjoy the excitement of it.

54. Write down the quote on p. 124 that shows Michael has a feeling of foreboding about his
       "They got him…the kid .They nailed him sliding into first."

55. What does Darcy do to "get even" with Michael and Amy?
      She tells Amy a vicious lie about Michael's intentions towards her—that he has made a bet
      that he can get her to have sex with him and all his teammates on the track team.


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