Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Discussion Questions for Chapters 1-6

Please post your discussion questions for chapters 1-6.
You are to then respond to your questions in the same post.
Below is your format.


A2 -


  1. First of all I'm the first one to post, pwned. Second my discussion questions:
    Q1: What do you think that Mr Small is keeping secret from Thomas and why?
    A1:I think (not having read past the end of chapter two) that Mr Small is keeping who Mr Pluto really is a secret. I think that Mr. Pluto is really the third slave and that he and Mr small are keeping it a secret because some one is still looking for the last of the three slaves for revenge(dun dun dun ddduuuunnn).
    Q2: Where do all the secret paseges in the house lead to?
    A2: I think that they all lead to the place where Mr. Pluto built his house and that mabe he built his house there because he is still hiding from someone.

  2. Q1. Why do you think the Darrow children (if you include Pesty) let Thomas fall under the steps and possibly injure himself (besides playing a joke)?

    A1. I think the Darrow children (Mac and Pesty)did not want Thomas to go exploring the tunnels anymore. I think they wanted him to be frightened of the tunnels and not want to explore them. They most likely did not think Thomas would severely harm himself or die, otherwise I do not think they would have let him fall.

    Q2. Why would Mr. Pluto want the Smalls to leave the house of Dies Drear?

    A2. I think Mr. Pluto would want the Small family to leave the house of Dies Drear and Ohio and go back to North Carolina so that they will not find all the secret tunnels/passageways, and whatever is hidden there. Also I think Mr. Pluto might be trying to warn them about the house of Dies Drear, he may be trying to warn and save them from the ghosts.

  3. (p.s. jacob-second is the best)

  4. Third is awesome because three is a magic number :D

    Q1: The first six chapters never say what 'color' the characters are. What 'color' do you think they are?

    A1: I think the Smalls are black. They have a certain feel about them that makes me picture them black in my head. Also, Virgina Hamilton's protagonists were usually black. I believe Mr. Pluto is black, but I think that Pesty and Mac were white. They seemed to treat Thomas like a black was treated after the war- still thought of badly, but with a small amount of respect.

    Q2: What first impressions did you have about Pesty and Mac? What about Mr. Pluto?

    A1: I thought Pesty and Mac seemed somehow trapped in the wrong time. It may sound crazy, but it seemed to me that they were from the Civil War times and thought of Mr. Pluto like he could do strange things to them but probably wouldn't. I thought Mr. Pluto seemed like he was hiding something very big, and could have been the one who trapped Pesty and Mac.

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  6. Fourth is better because that is her computer number! (Lol)

    First I want to acknowledge the other writers: Jacob, Natalie, and Keilen. I read your questions and responses. They all brought up more questions. Your interpretations are really making me look at Mr. Pluto in a different way. (To Keilin, your response about Mac and Pesty not being from the right time period, I totally agree with you!)

    Ok, now to the questions...

    Q1 Why do you think the twins feared Dies Drear's House?

    A1 I think the twins are afraid of the house because of the atmosphere the house creates. The way Virginia Hamilton describes the house and the way characters act in the book suggests that it is a very eerie house. Also, the air* that came out of the door was placed at just the right position to hit the twins faces. This may have caused the twins to be scared. One other idea is that somehow the twins could see the ghosts. Before you disagree, let me explain. If you have ever watched a little child who has a very active imagination, they can usually spot unusual things (this is what I have observed, I may be incorrect). This is important, because it may be that their imagination allows them to believe in the unnatural, making them able to see ghosts. If this was so, the twins (we don't know if they have an active imagination or not) would then be able to see the ghosts Thomas was hearing (okay, so we don’t know if they are ghosts, but for now I am thinking of them as that.

    *I don’t know where I read it, but these air “holes” were used for the slaves. It was so they knew where the button to a secret passage was. I think it was also used for when the slaves were in the dark.

    Q2 Why did Mr. Small seem to be keeping secrets from Thomas?

    A2 I think Mr. Small was just as afraid of the house and of Mr. Pluto as Thomas was. This may have caused him to keep secrets from Thomas because he wasn’t willing to let Thomas know he was afraid. I don’t know if you remember, but in the beginning of the book, Mr. Small always changed the subject every time Thomas brought up something about the houses past. This shows that there is a secret that Mr. Small doesn’t want Thomas to know about and I think it is because Mr. Small is afraid.

  7. Q1: What might have been Papa's motive for withholding the information that he found in the tunnel?

    A1: Judging by the caring father that his persona suggests, whatever he withheld from Thomas would have put him in harms way (perhaps the mysterious "ahh"ing sound...)

    Q2: What could have been the mysterious "ahh"ing sound?

    Mr. Pluto seemed like a creepy sort of guy, especially after his attack on Thomas. This leads me to believe that he would do anything to scare his new neighbors.

  8. Q2: (cont.) Plus, if Mr. Pluto had red hair as described in the book, he was most probably a white man, and considering the year was 1961, he could have very well be racist.

    P.S. Five is cool because it's in between 1 and 10, so yeah...

  9. Was freedom worth what they went through? Was it really worse on their plantation? How awful must it have been for them to go back for others when they had already escaped and were free?

    From the Perspective of today, would it have been better if Ms. Greene to have died before meeting Eli Whitney?

    Yes, for some it was. A lifetime of of pain and suffering vs. a month of God-awful trip but have a better, not perfect, but better life. And there are always those who will sacrifice their freedom and risk their lives for a slim chance at making someone else's life better.

    I don't think it really matters much, if Caroline didn't help invent it and use it, someone else would. There was, and is, always a person who needs something. If Eli didn't invent it, someonee else wouldv'e invented something similar. But if by some chance, slavery died out before a cotton gin was invented. And if by some miracle, people had come to realize slaves were people too and nothing happened to cause a big boom in slavery, then maybe, MAYBE, slavery may have never have been a big problem and MAYBE the Civil War may not have occured.

  10. Everyone's questions are great! they are really well thought out.

    Q1. Who do you think Pesty and Mr. Pluto really are?

    Q1.I think that Pesty and Mr. Pluto are from the civil war time and that they are both ghosts (or something of that kind that). I think that Mr. Pluto is a slave hunter or someone agaist negros and Pesty is his daughter or relative or something like that.

    And just to say, I think that there is something weird about the big, black horse that Pesty was riding on and how Pesty could control that big of an animal...

    Q2. Do you believe that Mr. Pluto really set up the furniture? If not, who do you think set the furniture up like that and why?

    A2.I think that Dies Drear's ghost set it up like that to try to scare the Smalls away. I think he did that to try to save them from the three slaves who might want to harm them since they might be getting in the way of their search for Dies Drear. Dies Drear, and this is what I am thinking, is scaring the twins for the same reason.

  11. I just want to quickly respond to Natalie's. Your about their "color" really caught my attention. I think that, like you said, that the Smalls are black. I think that Mr. Pluto and the Darrows are white. This ties into my first question.

    Q1) In this book, is history the opposite?
    (let me explain)

    A1) ) It is flip flopped around because a black family is living in Dies Drear (was he white?) house and Mr. Pluto is kind of like their slave. He is moving furniture and keeping watch.So instead of the black slaves doing all the work, it is a white person.

    Q2) Do you think that the story is written as Virginia Hamilition would have seen it, like it was her personal experience and she is a character?

    A2) Yes, I think that Virginia wrote it from her personal experiences and how she sees it. This was probably what she grew with. She probably would be Thomas because first of both lived in a historal place in the Underground Railroad. Secondly, their ancestors grew up with slavery.

  12. Michala, I was thinking the same thing expect that I thought that bits and pieces of the story and a few characters were from the Civil War.

  13. Question 1- Why didn't Thomas' parent tell him about the secret passagewaays inside the house?

    Answer 1- I think that the Smalls want to keep the history of this house a secret from Thomas. The house has a lot of events in history that aren't that good and want Thomas to find as little of it as possible. Of course, the Darrow Children want to make some sort of fun and had Thomas fall down into the tunnel.

    Question 2- Why do you think the Thomas was being so superstitious over the house being 'haunted' by the ghosts of Dies Drear and the two slaves.

    Answer 2- There were several reasons for Thomas to be so scared of the house. First, he was shaken up by his dream of Mr. Pluto (The Devil) and was scared. Then he heard the history of the house, and was shocked by the fact that no one had lived there for more than three months. Them of course, he was trapped inside the tunnel and the aah's, so he really thought the place was haunted

  14. Now to the questions...

    Q1: Do you think Mr. Pluto has a part in this book other than a scary, creepy, and mysterious man?

    A1: I think, like Jacob, that Mr. Pluto is somehow related to the original story of Dies Drear and the three slaves. He is probably a relative of the third slave.

    Q2: Why was Mr. Small hiding?

    A2: Mr. Small was probably hiding something to do with the tunnels, the house, Dies Drear, and Mr. Pluto/Hades.

  15. Q1) Why do some people believe in the statement "this is where I was born and where I will die?"

    A2) I think the answer is because some people may feel a stronger need to stay, protect, and/or be loyal to their home than others. It may also be that the feel they might slow everybody else down or they are too weak to go.

    Q2) Why is it, in many cases, that adults do not listen to children, even if they make a good point?

    A2) Adults may feel as if they are "lowering their standards" if they agree or listen to people of a younger age because they might not have as much experience or education. Many of them might feel like they are "higher" and do not want to put up with something not of their level, even though "all men are created equal."

  16. Question 1-- Why do you think this was such an attractive house to the Small's compared to his old one?

    Answer 1- Well, obviously this house is much more luxurious than their old one based on the children's excitement of the new house. But I think that it was the picture-perfect location that truly lured them to this house.

    Question 2- Why do you think Virginia Hamilton named Pluto Pluto?

    Answer 2- Because Pluto, the planet, is thought to be so far off and mysterious, like Pluto's character. The first 50 pages we have no idea of who Pluto is, while hearing so many different things from him.

  17. So far, the book has entertained me a lot. It was better than I thought it was going to be.

    Question 1: What if Mr. Pluto ends up being nice, even though everyone else pictures him as intimidating?

    Answer 1: Since the house appears to be well-taken care of by him, that is entirely possible. Pluto is just feared because he is the keeper of the "house of Dies Drear."

    Question 2: Where do you think "Pesty" came from?

    Answer 2: Pesty may be an orphan. Since the whole area was affected by the civil war, she may also be a ghost of some sort from the civil war. Considering how strange the book has been so far, I wouldn't be surprised if that happened. It would be better if we knew whether she was black or white.

  18. I'm sorry if anyone else had this questions. I didn't get to read them all.

    Who were M.C. and Pesty? Where they who they claimed to be?

    I do not think that they were who they claimed to be. I got the impression that they were ghosts of white children. I felt this because they seem to be very mysterious and almost acted as if they set Thomas up to fall in the hole, giving the impression of a ghost. Also on page 36 M.C. was yelling at the horse, at a loud whisper he said, "Whoa, you black! You mean old devil!" This shows racism, even to a horse, for being a different color them him. Therefore it gives an impression of white children, possibly slave owners.

    What is Mr.Small hiding?

    I think Mr.Small is hiding something that he knows about the third slave. Perhaps he knows his identity, or something else that he learned from his experience in visiting the house before moving in. It was most likely something that was not included in the report Thomas read.

  19. Well first, Mr. Pluto is BLACK!! It says on the last page of the sixth chapter.

    Q1. What if, if Mr. Pluto was the guy in the tunnel, Mr. Pluto showed himself in the tunnel?

    A1. I think that he might have tied him up , like what he did in the sixth chapter, and did awful things to him (ooOOoo). OR he could have been nice to Thomas, and become a protagonist, like Rory said.

    Q2. What if Pesty and "the Devil" really are in "cahoots", and they want to get rid of the Smalls? AND WHY?

    A2. I think that if they are, it's because they ARE ghosts *see upper posts* and they killed Dies Drear, and hid him in the tunnels, and don't want anyone to find out, or there covers would be blown, and they would be poked and prodded and examined and questioned, etc. and they just want to live their ghostly lives!!! *pant pant*

  20. Q1. Why didn't Thomas like Mr.Pluto?

    A1. He didn't like Mr.Pluto because he thought he was invading his personal space and he was moving in to his house.

    Q2 Was Thomas hallucinating when he saw Mac and Pesty or were they real?

    A2 I thought that they were real but they were ghosts. I thought this because nobody else knew about them and they knew Mr.Pluto well, who i think is crazy.

  21. Question- Do you think Pluto is the reason why nobody lives in the house for long?
    Answer- Yes, because I sure wouldnt want to be living with a guy that scares people and tries to kidnap them.

    Question- Why do you think Pluto was trying to scare Thomas?
    Answer- Maybe he wanted to scare Thomas enough as to ensure that he wont enter the tunnels again because Mr. Pluto may be hiding something in there.

  22. Question - Is Pluto really a "demon"?
    Answer - I think he may be because he came out of that fiery hole. I guess we will have to read on to find out more. }:)

    Question - Why are the twins crying so much?
    Answer - I think they may be crying because they see things that the others don't.

  23. Question - Is Mr.Pluto the third slave?
    Answer - I have a feeling he is but we would have to find out

    Question - Why did Thomas think that Mr. Pluto didn't want them there?
    Answer - The way the furniture was arranged and he also tried to convince Mr. Small not to sign the lease

  24. 1. Thomas seems very confident in his opinion that the house of dies drear is haunted. How does he know? Do you think it's actually haunted like Thomas says?
    2. Is the scary man really Pluto? Because he said "Who is o Pluto's land?!" So that could've meant that wasn't Pluto. If he was, it wasn't his land anymore, and he must've known who was there unless he wasn't the person who made the house nice for the Small's.

  25. Question 1) Why do you think Mr. Pluto arranged the furniture for the Small family?

    Answer 1) I think Mr. Pluto arranged the furniture for the Small family because like Thomas had said in the book something is fishy and he wants the family to flee.

    Question 2) What do you think happened to the third slave and why do you think Mr. Small wouldn't talk about it in the car?

    Answer 2)I think the third slave had tried to escape to freedom and he got caught later on and also I think the reason Mr.Small didn't tell Thomas about the third slave was because he knew something that would maybe scare him and make Mrs. Small angry and the twins cry.

  26. 1)Do you think the author is trying to make a point?
    2)Do you think mr. pluto is the third slave and why?

  27. Q1) Why does Thomas see Pluto as the devil, literally?

    A1) Thomas sees Pluto as the devil because of his appearance, his thinness, his facial hair, and his hair. Or probably, he is thinking his name Pluto (god of the underworld) infers that he is the devil.

    Q2) Do you think that Mr. Pluto and the kids were trying to play a joke on Thomas?

    A1) Yes, they were. They knew that Thomas was afraid of this new house being haunted and they wanted to scare the new kid.

  28. Q1) What do you think that the twins were hiding from Thomas?

    A1) I think that they were holding a secret about the history of the house and it was a vital piece of information but they did not want to share it at the time.

    Q1) How do you think that Dies Drear effected Virginia Hamlinton as a child?

    A1) I think that either this was someone that she was very close to and she was an adult that she like to hang out with or she was someone who she thought was scary before they got to know them better.

  29. Responding to my first question and response to Natalie
    My question is BEFORE I read that Mr. Pluto was black.

  30. Q1- Why was Thomas so attached to his book?

    A1- Maybe it was in his history. I think he likes it because he has a part of that in him, or he believes he does.

    Q2- What do you think was in the hole he fell into?

    A2- I think it was Dies Drear's ghost. I think so because I think it was part of the Underground Railroad.

  31. Q1-What could the sighing thing that Thomas heard in the tunnel be?
    A1-He could just be hearing the wind whistling through the treee branches outside. The sound could easily carry into the tunnel and be echoing off the walls. Maybe he was just imagining the sighing moving closer and closer to him because he had ghosts on the mind. Anybody could get freaked out and start hallucinating ghost noises in a dark tunnel when they believed their house was haunted.

    Q2-Besides the fact that "Pluto" is another name for Hades, why would thomas be so suspicious and hateful towards old Mr. Pluto?
    A2-Perhaps Thomass acts this way towards Mr. Pluto because it seems as though he is being too nice (when he arranged the furniture for them, filled up the fridge, etc.) to the new family, in order to blind Mr. and Mrs. Small to the fact that he is trying to get rid of them. Thomas notices how the furniture is arranged in a cold way, and realized that Mr. Pluto was trying to make it uncomfortable and the house seem unwelcoming.

  32. Question 1: Why do think that Thomas wanted to see the Ohio River so much?
    Answer 1: It was so important for him to see it because he felt that it was just such an important part of history.
    Question 2:Why do you think Thomas didn't like Pluto so much?
    Answer 2:I think that Thomas didn't like Pluto because he just didn't feel right around him and that he was being to nice to him and his family.

  33. Question 1: What do you think Thomas would have thought about his great-grandma had he not believed in the chicory roasting?
    Answer 1: I think that he might have thought a little lower of her because he might have thought that she engaged in peculiar habits but he still would have loved her. As you can see in further pages, Thomas feels a special connection between him and his great-grandmother. They can talk and he knows that he will always get support from her.

    Question 2: Do you think Thomas was dreaming about the forest and the man because of past experiences with his family and friends?
    Answer 2: I do not think that his family had anything to do with the dreams that he was having. The entire time he was talking to them on the drive they were all kind to them and then talking about the twins when they finally arrived at the house you found out that they had a very good relationship and had really bonded as a family. I think that the reason that he was running in a forest is because of where he used to live. There was probably a lot of forest and wilderness outside and he was an Outdoorsy type. The forest was probably a welcome place. The man in his dream was probably placed into the dream because of stories, movies, TV Shows etc.

  34. Why are people arguing whether or not Mr. Pluto is black or white? :x He's described as being dark-skinned, yes, but he's also described as having GREEN eyes and one can have slightly dark skin without being considered black, so :|.

    Q1: What time period is the book set in?

    A1: I'm not entirely sure myself. We have both cars and horse drawn wagons, after the Civil War and Reconstruction but not necessarily before or after black rights movement. Either way it doesn't feel entirely modern.

    Q2: Who is Pluto?

    A2: The caretaker for the Dies Drear manor. I don't see why the author and all of the characters are trying to make him look like he has some sort of mysteriousness surrounding him; and if the thing about wanting to take the house from the family and the fiery hole and everything isn't going to be passed as the protaganist's overimagination I'd say he'd be the flattest and least motivated antagonist I've read about.

    This book is dragging for me. :/ Characters' actions and interpretations of events aren't the least bit credible, especially on the part of the protaganist. Eh, whatever.

  35. Q1:What do you think the major cause of Thomas's paranoia about his dad's secrecy of the house.
    A1:I think Thomas's paranoia is mainly caused by his imersion in the underground railroad and his intrests in the reports he found in his father's study.

    Q2:Why do you think Thaomas's father is so worried about the family finding out about the legend surrounding the house.
    A2:I think Mr. Small is so worried because he could either believe in the legend and not want the family to be worried or he could just not want the family to be scared of the house.

  36. Q1: Why did Thomas have the dream about the forest?
    A1: He had it as a foreshadowing for Mr. Pluto.

    Q2: How did Thomas feel about the Underground railroad tunnels that are under his new home?
    A2: He felt uneasy about them because they were below the house.

  37. Q1) Would you want to live in this house, based on gathered details? Why or why not? Explain.

    A1) There seems to be uncertainty about the residence, and paranormal things happening at night. Not a place for me.

    Q2) How does Thomas' experience in the hidden passageway add to the mystery of the story?

    A2) It adds mystery because a scary, hidden passageway lies beneath the house of Dies Drear and most places don't have dark, scary, hidden passageways. A frightening thing for Thomas.