1. There are many reasons to admire George Dawson. What qualities did you notice and admire?
2. George often noticed and took pleasure in ordinary things like the taste of his mother's biscuits, seeing the stars, even the "wait in the station."
What are the ordinary things in your life that bring pleasure?
3. Growing up in the Jim Crow south, George often recalls his wary caution with whites.
Are there ways in which minorities and women still must be cautious in their interactions with society?
4. What factors may have contributed to George's long life span?
5. In chapter 20, George says “I had to work all those years, but I was glad to work. A man is supposed to work and take pride in what he does no matter what the work is.” Do you think many people feel this way about work?
6. How does George cope with his illiteracy? How might his life have been different if he'd had the opportunity to go to school as a child?
7. George faced hardships and injustice, he never had much money; yet he still led a successful life.
Did he also have some advantages? Was he “rich” in other ways?
8. Why do you think students in the adult education program and other young students are so drawn to George?
9. In chapter 1, George's father told him "You have no right to judge another human being. Don't you ever forget."
How does this advice effect George's life?
10. How do you think George would answer the question "what makes life worth living"? Why does he think "life is so good"?
11. In Chapter 24, George says “there are some parents these days that are growing children , not raising children.”
What does he mean by this? Do you agree with him?
12. Given that George Dawson's life was limited by racism and poverty, it would be understandable if he was bitter about opportunities lost--but he chose not to feel bitter and instead adopted a willed optimism. How did Dawson's attitude effect his life?
13. Have you ever thought of writing a book? If you had a book in you, what would it be?