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Discussion Questions

  1. Who wrote this document?
  2. When was this document written? (At the time of the events described? After the events described took place?)
  3. What type of document is this? Who was the intended audience for this document? How might this have influenced the content of the document?
  4. According to discussions that Ellen had with a few African American volunteers, how did they view white people? To what does Ellen credit their attitude? What does slavery have to do with it?
  5. What does Ellen mean when she calls her parents "good liberals"? What assumptions does that phrase carry?
  6. As "good liberals," what message do you think Ellen's parents gave her verbally about whites and blacks? What do you think is the difference between the liberalism of her parents and Ellen's own view of race relations?
  7. What kind of contact/relationship did Ellen have with African Americans growing up? What difference in respect/power/dignity are suggested by the ways that her family addressed their black maid and the way their maid addressed Ellen's family?
  8. What message was conveyed by her parents' actions and by the social context in which Ellen grew up? How was this message different from the verbal message her "good liberal" parents gave her?
  9. What are some examples from today of differences between someone's convictions, as expressed by what they say, and their actions?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Discussion Questions." (Viewed on July 25, 2014) <http://jwa.org/node/11767/lightbox2>.

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