93 pages 3 hours read

Margaret Peterson Haddix


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2007

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Discussion/Analysis Prompt

Throughout the novel, Bella, Yetta, and Jane are constrained by the roles women are expected to play in the society of their time. How do these expectations differ among different social classes? What expectations are the same for all women? What are some of the ways that the women try to rebel against these expectations? What steps do they take to empower themselves? By the end of the novel, how does the reader know that the women have succeeded in breaking free of at least some of the restrictions placed on women of their time?

Teaching Suggestion: Students might focus on the ways in which the individual women in the text feel unable to express their full humanity and pursue their dreams because of others’ expectations of their sex. Students do not need to endorse a stance on this issue. If they stay focused on external constraints and overlook the ways in which women limit one another and themselves, encourage them to see that social norms are systemic—not just the effect of individual choices and actions—and that women can also enforce these norms. This prompt can be made more challenging by encouraging students to explore how gender expectations for women of different social classes help keep classes segregated, or by asking students for specific types of text evidence—plot detail, language, etc.