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Sounder William H. Armstrong. Introduction Background Discussion Starters. Sounder William H. Armstrong. “Sounder might come home again. But you must learn to lose, child.”. Sounder: Introduction.

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Sounder william h armstrong
SounderWilliam H. Armstrong



Discussion Starters

Sounder william h armstrong1
SounderWilliam H. Armstrong

“Sounder might come home again. But you must learn to lose, child.”

Sounder introduction
Sounder: Introduction

On a cold October night, a very poor boy, his father, and their dog, Sounder, stand on the porch of their cabin and listen to the wind.

Sounder introduction1
Sounder: Introduction

Sounder is a great hunting dog.

But they will not go hunting tonight.

Sounder introduction2
Sounder: Introduction

Instead, the father goes out alone . . . .

and the next morning, sausage is sizzling on the stove, and ham is boiling in the pot.

Stealing meat is a desperate act, and a risky one, but the family has to eat.

Sounder introduction3
Sounder: Introduction

A few days later, the sheriff and his deputies arrive at the cabin.

They violently handcuff the father and throw him in the back of their wagon.

Sounder introduction4
Sounder: Introduction

When Sounder chases the sheriff’s wagon, one of the deputies shoots Sounder.

Sounder disappears.

Sounder introduction5
Sounder: Introduction

The boy is left alone.

His beloved dog is gone.

His father is in jail.

His mother and younger siblings are depending on him.

Sounder introduction6
Sounder: Introduction

How will the boy cope with the loss of his dog and his father?

Will he be able to help his family survive?

Sounder background
Sounder: Background

One hundred years ago in the southeastern United States, African Americans

  • had fewer rights than white people and were often treated unfairly

  • did not have many chances to learn how to read and write

Sounder background1
Sounder: Background

After the Civil War, many freed slaves became sharecroppers. These farmers

  • didn’t own the land they farmed

  • had to pay the landowner a large part of the money they made

  • often had to borrow money to survive until the crops were harvested

Sounder background2
Sounder: Background

Most families of former slaves became trapped in a cycle of debt, while landowners became wealthier.

In many ways, these people were still enslaved.

Sounder background3
Sounder: Background

Around the middle of the twentieth century,

  • farm machinery began to replace laborers

  • the sharecropping system eventually fell apart

Sounder background4
Sounder: Background

Sounder is a mix of two dog breeds—


Georgia redbone hound

  • muscular, determined

  • bred to fight bulls

  • powerful jaws

  • bred to hunt raccoons

  • smart and fast

  • loud, melodious voice

Sounder background5
Sounder: Background

Dogs like Sounder provided many valuable services to rural families:

  • helping catch animals for the family to eat

  • warning the family of danger

  • providing love and companionship

Sounder background6
Sounder: Background

During the time of this story, prisoners didn’t just sit in jail. Instead, they were often

  • forced to work on dangerous jobs, such as mining

  • overworked and poorly fed

  • whipped or beaten badly

Sounder discussion starters
Sounder: Discussion Starters

  • Discuss (1)

  • What, in your opinion, would be an appropriate penalty for stealing some sausages and a ham?

  • Why do you think the father in the story receives such severe punishment for this minor crime?

  • Do you think such a harsh injustice could take place in today’s legal system? Why or why not?

Sounder discussion starters1
Sounder: Discussion Starters

Discuss (2)

In Sounder, the boy and his family labor hard and constantly, but still they barely survive.

  • If you lived this way, how do you think you would feel?

  • What might give you comfort in such a situation?

  • Would you be able to find hope for a better life? If so, how? If not, why not?