1. Is Cassius a moral man?
2. Cassius accepts the blame when Tempie Easter is sold to a cotton and rice plantation. Was he right or wrong in what he did? Could there have been another way?
3. The slaves’ dialogue on the page does not include quotation marks. How did that affect your reading of the novel?
4. Hoke Howard has a number of sons in the narrative, and he has very different relationships with each of them. Taking his attitude toward his children as a whole, what portrait does this paint of the man? After all they have been through, why does Cassius still carry a small modicum of affection for his master?
5. Politics is rampant throughout the lane in the slave quarters, as both men and women jockey for power and privileges. Discuss the politics of the slaves’ lives.
6. Cassius spends part of his time considering his name, wondering if he should change it. He feels he has been named on a whim, and yet he wonders if Hoke accidentally got it right, or if somehow he, Cassius, was put on a path to his personality because of his name. Should he change his name?
7. Ellen Howard’s is the only point of view -- other than Cassius’s -- through which we see the story unfold. Why do you think the author included her perspective?
8. Cassius struggles with the concept of God because it is forced on him by the white planters. The original African beliefs have long since been taken from the slaves and replaced with Christianity. If you had been a slave who could read, and therefore understood the white planter’s methods -- knowing that the Bible was used to keep slaves in line – what would have been your reaction to the white’s religion?
9. Emoline Justice is revealed to be a spy for the Union. She has kept secrets her entire life. Cassius is devoted to her, but feels at one point as if her secrets are a betrayal. Why do you think she felt it necessary to keep things from Cassius?
10. Cassius is on the trail of a murderer. Cassius has to make a decision as to whether to let the murderer live. Do you agree with his decision? He understands the great consequences of his decision before he makes it, as many others will be affected. Why do you think he made the decision that he did?