Study Questions for
 Meet Me on the Paisley Roof

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Chapter 1 - Sweet Escapes

1. Some people just don't like the "great turkey fling" scene.  What was your reaction?
2. Why do you think Trussell decides to shed all his clothes when he sneaks out that night?  (Optional:  Did you ever do anything like this?)
3. What do we learn about the boys' relationships from the surprise birthday party inside the Jones's garage?
4. What do we learn about Trussell's relationship with Ellen?
5. How would you contrast the personalities of Trussell, Ronnie, and Cassidy?
6. What are Trussell's goals?  That is, what do you think he wants to do from what you have seen in Chapter 1?
7. What can you tell so far about Trussell's relationship with his stepmother?
8. If you were going to make a video for YouTube, which scene in this chapter would you choose?  Why?

Chapter 2 - Soaring for Inspiration

1. How does Trussell stumble upon the idea of writing Ellen a letter?  Does he ever intend to mail it?
2. What is Trussell's relationship with Emily?
3. Does it seem strange that Trussell enjoys being with Emily but is so reluctant to contact Ellen?  Why?
4. When confronted with the sight of Ellen Harmon on the viaduct, as opposed to a vision of her, how does Trussell react?
5. What is Trussell's physical and mental condition as he listens to the Sunday morning sermon at church?
6. After Ellen joins the church, Trussell summons his strength to welcome her, then talk with her.  How well does he do?
7. Suppose you overheard Trussell talking with Ellen's parents, then decided to text or Twitter a friend about your reaction.  What would you say?

Chapter 3 - Shooting the Breeze

1. If you were Mr. Childs' next-door neighbor, would you knock on his door to inquire about the "loud noise" coming from his kitchen?  Why?
2. "I like Mr. Childs. He's just trying to be helpful to Trussell and to protect his family with a fallout shelter.  He's a concerned adult and father."  Would you agree with this statement?  Why?
3. If Trussell invited you to have a sandwich with him at his house, knowing also that Loretta was home, would you accept his invitation?  Why?
4. Having witnessed the conversation between Trussell and Loretta, suppose Trussell asks you this question:  "I'm trying to find a way to keep the peace with Loretta.  What should I have done or said differently?"  What would you advise him to do?

Chapter 4 - Cleaning Up, Here and There

1. Why do you think Trussell's description of the "new girl" is so brief, yet his description of Trudy is rather detailed?
2. Trussell hears the latest news about Loretta from Melba.  What does he learn?
3. How do you think Trussell's bicycle came to have the flat tire?
4. Would you have climbed on the back of Trudy's motorcycle?  Why?
5. Do you think that Trudy timed her arrival for the morning work break at the loading dock?  Why?
6. Suppose you had just experienced the Lummus events as Trussell did and Trudy hands you her bandana, telling you that you did a great job.  What would you text or Twitter to a friend?

Chapter 5 - Flying Away with the Plymouth

1. Trussell and Miss Sealey shared several secrets.  What were they?
2. How did Cassidy come to be reading Tales of the South Pacific?
3. When under stress, Ronnie appears to have a bad habit.  What is it?
4. When Trussell begins to feel anxious in the garage, he soars off in his imagination as a what?  And when he actually takes "control" of the car, who does he "become?"
5. When one of the soldiers asks about the stalled car, Trussell replies with a terrible pun.  What was it?
6. What is a scrambled dog?  (Never go to Columbus, Georgia, unless you know what a scrambled dog is!)
7. What was wrong with the Plymouth?
8. If you were going to make a video for YouTube, which scene in this chapter would you choose?  Why?

Chapter 6 - Baiting the Hook

1. A phone call from Melba to Trussell prompts Trussell to think of himself not only as a car thief but a kidnapper.  What's going on?
2. A phone call from Emily prompts Trussell to ask her for some advice about dating girls.  Was this good advice?  What would you add?
3. How does Trudy solve Trussell's problem with Zimmerman?
4. Trudy offers herself to Trussell in the garage.  Why would she deem "a piano-playing sissy" now worthy of her attention?
5. As a follow-up to Question 4, one might ask, "How is it that Trussell, who is attracted to Trudy, can refuse her offer?"  Trussell tries a "logical" approach and realizes that's not going to work so he chases after a fire truck.  If Trudy had been successful in seducing Trussell, how would that have affected the story?  Would Trussell have called Ellen for a date?
6. Trussell calls Ellen and asks for a date.  How important to Trussell was her answer?

Chapter 7 - School Days Again

1. Why is Mrs. Harmon concerned about Ellen's date with Trussell?
2. Ellen and Trussell, sitting on the ground near their old classroom, relive their school days.  What do we learn about their time together then?
3. What surprised you the most about their conversation on the playground?
4. There are several moments in their date when the conversation turns to serious matters.  What is the most serious moment for Trussell?  Ellen?  Explain.
5. What do we learn about Loretta?
6. Was this a successful date?  Why?

Chapter 8 - How Crazy is She?

1. Melba lets Trussell know what she thinks about him stealing Loretta's car.  What is his reaction?
2. Why is Melba worried about Loretta?
3. Loretta and Trussell have a lengthy conversation.  What are the major concerns that Loretta brings up?
4. "Overall, I would say that Loretta is being a little more rational, certainly less emotional, than in their previous encounter in Chapter 2."  Would you agree?  Why?
5. Trussell is not quite sure what to make of Loretta after their talk.  On one hand, she seems to be behaving rationally, yet on the other, she's not.  How does Trussell try to resolve his quandary?
6. We meet Trussell's next-door neighbor Mrs. Sanders for the first time.  What is your impression of her?
7. How is it that Trussell winds up rescuing a damsel in distress, Miss Sealey, by flying off a carrier in an old DeSoto?
8. So how crazy does Trussell pronounce himself to be?

Chapter 9 - Ropin' a Little Chopin

1. Trussell's Aunt Cora makes her first appearance in this chapter, having breakfast with Trussell at the Goo-Goo Restaurant.  So far, we know that Loretta dislikes, even fears, her (p. 51, pp. 130-131), whereas for Trussell she is a nurturing and supportive aunt, the person he wants to call (p. 52) after the blowup with Loretta in Chapter 2.
(a) What's on Aunt Cora's agenda this morning?
(b) What longer term choices does she present to Trussell?
(c) What immediate aid does she provide?
(d) What is your impression of her?
2. Seems like one surprise after another cascades on Trussell after he arrives at the TV studio.  Even surprises have surprises.  What were they?
3. Would you like to have a guy like Carl working for you?  Explain.
4. How does Trussell feel about his piano performance?  His interview with Colleen Davison?
5. What was Ellen's gift to Trussell?

Chapter 10 - Confessing to the Dead

1. What do you think is Loretta's motivation for calling on her spiritual advisor for help with Trussell?
2. What does Celeste reveal about Loretta's friend John Brown?
3. What do we learn about Trussell's relationship with his father?
4. Were you surprised that Trussell apologized for and confessed to stealing Loretta's car?  Why do you think he was moved to do this?
5. What did Trussell learn about Loretta that he didn't already know?
6. On a scale from 10 (smooth operator) to 1 (rank amateur), how would you rate Celeste's skills in the "spiritual advisor" business?  Explain.
7. "Although Trussell was skeptical of Celeste and her 'powers,' he did cooperate and participate in the seance.  I think he wanted it to work."  Would you agree or disagree.  Why?

Chapter 11 - Monkeying Around

1. Stretched out on the Paisley roof looking up at the stars, Ronnie and Trussell talk about love.  What do they have to say?
2. Ronnie suggests that they (the three boys) should do something special "... in honor of all our good times," which appear to be coming to an end.
(a)  Can we tell yet what Ronnie is up to?
(b)  How does Trussell react to this possibility?
3. Why does Trussell call Emily on the phone at two o'clock in the morning?
4. When Loretta asks "Baby, you in that closet?" what sort of answer does she get?
5. What is the monkey's full name?
6. What did Trussell mean when he said "I am innocent, though not by much."

Chapter 12 - Squinting at St. Francis

1. After the latest setback with Loretta, Trussell concludes that he needs to make a major change in his life.  What is it?
2. Contrast the toasts made by Cassidy and Ronnie with the one made by Trussell.  Do the boys seem to be on the same wavelength?
3. How is the boys' meeting this night different from their get-togethers in the past?
4. Ronnie deliberately allows Trussell to view his painted St. Francis image on the hen house only for a brief glimpse by flashlight (hence the chapter title, Squinting at St. Francis).  Do you think Ronnie is up to something or is he just enjoying being the master of ceremonies?  Explain.
5. Who now besides Trudy is in danger from Gator and his friends?

Chapter 13 - Loretta Plays a Tune

1. What is Trussell's physical and mental condition as this chapter opens and unfolds?
2. After Emily joins Sanders and Trussell at the breakfast table,
(a)  What do they discuss?
(b)  What do Emily and Sanders think about Trussell's prospects of mending his latest rift with Loretta?
3. After Trussell finds out about Loretta "playing her tune" on the piano, what is his immediate reaction?
4. How does Cassidy save the day?
5. In light of the "new image" on the side of the hen house, what is the riddle posed to Trussell by Ronnie and Cassidy?
6. On a symbolic level, what is the significance of Trussell's final comment "One for all, and all for one?"

Chapter 14 - Buzzards Roost Here

1. Trussell and Ellen are enjoying their picnic together when Trussell's thoughts turn, after he has eaten, from food to romance.  Before he can act, however, a voice "from above" interrupts.
(a)  How was their date going up to this point?
(b)  What news does Cassidy bring?
(c)  Why, in particular, is Cassidy looking for Trussell?
(d)  What happens to the picnic?
2. Was Cassidy being followed?
3. As Ellen and Trussell leave to go home, they encounter a severe thunderstorm and later a car-bus accident that may have a fatality.  While traffic is stopped, Ellen and Trussell's conversation inside the car turns to more serious matters.
(a)  What do they discuss?
(b)  How open, do you think, are they being with each other?
4. The conversation lightens up a bit after they resume their trip back to Columbus.  Trussell tells Ellen about the "art gallery" in his garage and about the "miracle" that goes with it.  How does Ellen react to Trussell's comment that the miracle, after all, was just a fake?
5. Remember those old "Cliff Hangers" from the silent movie era?  They are alive and well on YouTube, just noisier.  If you were going to make a video for YouTube using this chapter as your inspiration, how would your story unfold?  (Remember to include the key elements:  Villains, Heroes, and Damsel in Distress.)

Chapter 15 - Gator Does Well

1.We see Gator chasing Trussell to and under the Dunbar house.  What sort of fellow does he appear to be?  Dangerous or just a bad actor?
2. Would you have stopped to help Gator get out of the well?  What does that tell us about Trussell?
3. As French and Trussell struggle to get Gator on the bike, Trussell tells us that "Gator yelled a curse in something that sounded like Polish..." (p. 250).  Here and in other places throughout the book, Trussell reports when someone is cursing but he does not cite the actual words.  Do you think this is an acceptable way for Trussell to tell his story or would the actual words add power or realism?
4. Next morning, Mr. Childs and Cassidy awaken Trussell in his room at the Bluebird Hotel.  What news do they convey about:  (a) Loretta and (b) Trudy?
5. Why does the reluctant Trussell finally decide to see his stepmother again?

Chapter 16 - "It's Really Me, St. Francis."

1. If Trussell doesn't like Mr. Childs' plan to "camouflage" himself as a girl, why do you think he does it anyway?
2. How does Loretta react to Trussell's (a) appearance and (b) his concerns?
3. To what extent did Trussell achieve what he came to do?
4. "I see Trussell's refusal to put the wig back on before he leaves the hospital room as a true coming-of-age moment."  Do you agree with this statement?  Explain.
5. Sure enough, Trussell runs smack into one of Gator's gang members, French, whom Trussell had met earlier.  Were you surprised at the outcome?  Explain.
6. Trussell concocts a scenario in which he may have accidentally poisoned Loretta.  What reassurance does Melba offer Trussell that he did not "poison" Loretta?
7. When Ellen shows up at Trussell's garage to see the "art gallery,"
she makes an unintended artistic discovery that upsets her.  Does Trussell's comments make things better or worse?  Explain.
8. How was it that a borrowed pot of collards and Steven Foster soothed the distraught Ellen, bringing Trussell and Ellen happily back together?

Chapter 17 - Of Paragons and Lawyers

1. Mr. Childs, Cassidy, and Trussell set out to pick Ronnie up at the Birmingham police station.  Trussell wants to ask why Ronnie ran away but decides not to.  How would you answer that question?
2. Trussell finally makes a big decision about his future.
(a)  What is it?
(b)  How does he sell his plan to Aunt Cora?
(c)  Does she buy it?
3. Trussell and the Childs stumble upon Trudy working at the Paragon Café.  Is it possible, after all is said and done, that she deliberately set Gator up as a police suspect in her "disappearance?"  Explain.
4. After stopping in Sylacauga (pronounced sill-a-COG-a) for gas, Trussell and Ronnie continue their conversation in the back of the truck.  What brainstorm of an idea does Ronnie have?
 5. Suppose you had just witnessed the Dairy Queen scene with the boys downing their shakes, then decided to text or Twitter a friend about your reaction.  What would you say?
6. Mr. Childs laughingly refers to himself as a pig, quoting Ronnie.  Trussell replies:  "Yes, sir, but you're a nice pig."  Trussell is making a joke, of course, but is there any truth to what he says?

Chapter 18 - The Goodbye Train Ride

1. Trussell mulls over Trudy's request not to tell the police where she is.  What does he decide to do?
2. What news does Trussell convey to Ellen?
3. Trussell tells us how he feels about seeing Ellen and being with her.  If Ellen were describing this scene, what do you think she would say about Trussell?
4. How do you feel about the ending?  Does the book end on an optimistic, pessimistic, or ambivalent note?