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Powerful and Beautiful: December 2015 High School Title

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | December | High School

house of purple cedarHouse of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle. Cinco Puntos Icon_HighSchoolPress, 2014 (c2013).

In 1967, Rose is an old woman looking back on her childhood in Skullyville, Oklahoma, in 1897, in a novel that moves back and forth between Rose, her family and Choctaw community, and residents of the nearby town of Spiro. Among them is the marshall, a man who is despised by Choctaw and whites alike. His cruelty is often random, as when he strikes Amafo, Rose’s grandfather, at the train station one day. Amafo turns the other cheek, and in doing so finds allies among some of the whites in Spiro while leading his community away from confrontation. Tim Tingle writes beautifully and deeply about love and forgiveness as antidotes to violence and hatred in a novel that also doesn’t ignore hard realities. Sometimes bringing the truth into the light isn’t enough; sometimes you have to fight back with violence. This is illuminated not only through what happens to Rose and her community but also through the lives of several women in Spiro, one of them the marshall’s wife, who has endured his beatings for years. The power of family, of community and connection, and of love and compassion to transcend divides — among individuals, across cultures, between the living and the dead — is profound and hopeful in a story that is, above all, about the human heart. The tense plot unfolds through characters drawn with astonishing depth and subtlety, their actions and interactions richly revealing. Solace for Rose’s community is also found in both Christianity and in spiritual experiences imbedded in their culture, the two seamlessly reconciled in their lives.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Decisions to perform acts of violence and nonviolence play a pivotal role in the course of the book. For example, Amafo’s response to the marshall’s attack was deliberate. Argue how this was or wasn’t an effective strategy.
  2. Explain the significance of the title, House of Purple Cedar.
  3. Find two examples of symbolism in this novel. Explain the importance of each to the narrative arc of the story or development of a character.

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