1. CHARACTERS & PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: Lenny has many friends among the hospital workers. They love and respect him, and they are willing to help him in his murder investigation.
STUDY QUESTIONS: Why do so many people like Lenny? Do you know anybody like Lenny on your job? Why do they help him with his investigation, even though it puts their job in jeopardy? Lenny is not tall or good looking, but women seem to go for him. Why is that? Would you want to date Lenny? What do you look for in a partner in life/soul mate/lover/friend?
WRITING EXERCISE: Write a 1-2 page account of a problem you had on the job. Describe the role of any co-worker who helped you with your problem. Lenny and his co-workers have some things in common that unite them, and some things not in common that divide them. They often bend the rules to help one another. They recognize a common threat to their job: Security Chief Joe West. STUDY QUESTIONS: What is more important in their lives: their common interests or their differences? Why does Jose West always make trouble for Lenny and his friends?
WRITING EXERCISE Write a 1-2 paage essay on what things you have in common with your work mates or with your fellow students. Describe the things that unite you and the things that divide you. Consider what you might do to build solidarity within the group.
2. CONFLICT WITH MANAGEMENT Security Chief Joe West is out to get rid of Lenny Moss. He watches to see that the the hospital workers punch a time clock when they come to and leave work. He is ready to write someone up and fire them for violating the rules. Unlike Joe West, Lenny is totally dedicated to helping his co-workers, even with problems that are not strictly related to the contract. STUDY QUESTIONS: Why does Lenny care so much about his co-workers? Why is Gary Tuttle, an RN, less enthusiastic about helping Lenny than the other hospital workers? What is the role of the union steward on the job? Do you think unions help the workers? Do you think they hurt the company? Why do you think so? WRITING EXERCISE: Write a short essay on the question: Would I risk my job to help a union steward or a friend with a work issue? If I would not, why not? What would happen if workers never supported their union steward? What would happen to the union? To work conditions? To your job?
3. RACE RELATIONS AT WORK AND IN AMERICA A security guard searched Regis Devoe’s bag at the exit but did not search the white doctor’s bag. Devoe was guilty of “walking while black.”
STUDY QUESTIONS Was Devoe justified in arguing with the doctor? Why did the police quickly accuse Regis Devoe of murder? Were they justified? Should they have looked at other suspects? How did Lenny develop a circle of friends that is multi-racial and multi-ethnic?
WRITING EXERCISE Write a short essay on the question: Is multi-racial unity unusual in America? If so, why is that? Describe your friends and their different backgrounds. Outside school and work, are all your friends from the same ethnic group? If not, why not? If so, how did you come to have such friends?
4. STORY TELLING The crime novel is built around a “sympathetic character with a problem". In solving the problem (finding the killer) the protagonist (Lenny) seeks help among the hospital workers. Some help him; some hinder him. In the end Lenny solves his problem.
STUDY QUESTIONS Why do we feel sympathy for Lenny and his quest, and anger for Joe West? What kind of hero brings out your sympathy? Why do you care about him? What other problems drive the stories that you have read?
WRITING EXERCISE Write a short story with a sympathetic character working on a problem. It may be a true story based on an experience at work or in your neighborhood, or it may be a fictional story. Let the protagonist encounter people along the way who sometimes help and sometime hinder the hero.Your protagonist may be successful (a “comedy”), may fail “a tragedy”), or may fail at solving the original problem but may succeed in something else. This makes a complex ending (“bitter sweet”) – a powerful form of story telling. Read your story in class and ask your fellow students to tell you if they related to your protagonist and your other characters. What made it "real" for them? What did not ring true? How many times will you have to rewrite your story based on feedback from students and teacher before it is "finished'? Once? Twice? Twenty times? The answer is: just enough to make it perfect.