Parrot in the Oven: mi vida

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1 Reflections: A Student Response Journal for Parrot in the Oven: mi vida by Victor Martinez Copyright 2002 by Prestwick House, Inc., P.O. Box 658, Clayton, DE Permission to copy this unit for classroom use is extended to purchaser for his or her personal use. This material, in whole or part, may not be copied for resale. ISBN: Item No

2 Parrot in the Oven Chapter 1 The Baseball Glove 1. Nardo and Randy are working as busboys for the Bonneville Lakes Golf and Catering Service. They dare each other to take off their busboy jackets, buy a ticket, and ask a girl to dance. Nardo, risking his job, agrees to fulfill the bet. How would you respond to a friend s bet in a similar situation? 2. Nardo s grandmother believes her grandson has a sixth sense that warns him when trouble is near. To what extent do you believe that some people have special abilities or a sixth sense? 3. Even though he is old enough to work to help support the family, Nardo is chronically unemployed. Manny writes, Whether one tried threats, scoldings, or even shaming, which my mom tried almost every other day, nothing worked. Write a letter from Nardo to his mother explaining to her why he is not working. 4. Manny describes his father as a man who was always zeroing in on things he wanted to be disappointed in, and when he found one, he d loose a curse quicker than an eyeblink. Write about someone you know, have read about, or seen on television who also seems to look for problems in life. What advice would you give to a negative person? 5. Manny describes his grandfather as a man who worked like a man trying to fill all his tomorrows with one solid day s work. Why do you suppose some people work so hard? 6

3 Response Journal 6. When the Immigration officials arrive at the chili field the illegal workers from Mexico, who are picking peppers, begin to run. Soon they are caught by Immigration and taken away in vans. Manny writes, They [the other workers in the field] said Immigration guys usually don t go into the fields to check for citizenship unless they have a good reason. If you acted like you belonged, sometimes you could fool them. In your opinion, is the above good advice? Why or why not? 7. Nardo and the others quickly grab the full sacks of chili peppers left behind by the fleeing workers. What do you think about Nardo s decision to profit from the work of the unfortunate others? How might you have behaved in a similar situation? 8. Manny begins to dream about the baseball glove he can buy with the money from the peppers, but then he thinks about how long he would have to work to fill one of those sacks. The weariness of it stretched as wide as the horizon. Write a short poem describing how Manny feels about picking chili peppers. 7

4 Parrot in the Oven Chapter 2 Rico s Pool Hall 9. Dad and Mom frequently fight about whether or not to get welfare. Their opinions on the subject are well known to Manny because whenever the subject is mentioned, his parents have the same argument. Think about an often discussed topic in your household. How do you feel when you must repeatedly listen to the same arguments about this topic? 10. Dad believes that, people were like money. If you were a million-dollar person, you had a grip on things, a big house maybe, and a crowd of suckers you could push around. You could be a thousand-dollar person or a hundred-dollar person even a ten-, five-, or one-dollar person. Below that, everybody was just nickels and dimes. To my dad, we were pennies. Using the same analogy to money, what kind of person do you think you are in the opinion of your parents? How do you feel about that? 11. In the following paragraph, Manny describes how his parents behave when they are worried. What do you do when you feel stressed or worried? I always wondered why he got so tossed around by things, why he d roughen his voice and tire himself out complaining. Mom was more quiet. Whenever she worried about something, she d bite her nails and look up at the sky; not like she was staring at the clouds, but like the whole sky was the most marvelous sight she d ever seen. 12. Manny is confronted by the Garcia brothers. Manny is afraid of Stinky Garcia, so he takes the abuse instead of fighting back. Do you approve of the way Manny handles himself with the Garcia brothers? What advice might you give him? 8

5 Response Journal 13. After terrorizing Manny, Stinky and the others start to move away. Manny writes, Stinky turned around, waving at me like I was his best friend in the whole world which, actually, even after all the times he beat me up, I really think he believed. Write a letter explaining Stinky s behavior to a classmate who does not understand. 14. At the end of this chapter, Manny describes a typical afternoon at home in the Hernandez home. His sister is listening to records, his mother is cleaning while she watches old movies on television, and his father is drinking beer on the couch. Write a brief description of a typical afternoon at your home. 15. As Dad walks away from the house the Garcia boys torment him by throwing little pieces of gravel at him. Dad just keeps on walking. Mom and Manny witness this abuse. Reread the last paragraph in the chapter and then write a short dialogue between Mom and one of her friends discussing the abuse. It might begin as follows: Mom: Friend: Mom: Friend: There he was, walking down the road and those worthless boys throwing stones at him. Did he say anything to the Garcia brothers? No. Like always, he did nothing. It is like he expects to be treated this way. And Manny saw this? 9

6 Parrot in the Oven Chapter 3 Charity 16. Mom wants to see Manny in a better school, but Dad thinks Manny should drop out of school and get a job as a dishwasher. What advice would you give to Manny concerning school? 17. Manny seems to like Mr. Hart because he is passionate about history, and because Mr. Hart does not try to be a buddy to his students. Write a brief character sketch of your favorite teacher listing the qualities you admire about him or her. 18. Mr. Hart insists on giving Manny twenty dollars for school supplies. Are you surprised by Mr. Hart s offer? For what reasons do you think it is or is not appropriate for Mr. Hart to offer Manny money? 19. Manny tries to convince Mr. Hart to drop him off by the irrigation ditch instead of in front of his house, because he knows his family and the neighbors might misinterpret Mr. Hart s presence in the neighborhood. Mr. Hart does not understand Manny s concerns. Write a letter to Mr. Hart explaining to him why he should listen to his students and be more sensitive to their feelings. 20. A motif is defined as a situation, incident, idea, or image that is found and repeated significantly in a novel. A example of a motif in this story is the way Dad compares people to money. In Chapter 2, Dad compares his sons to pennies. Re-read the last paragraph in this chapter. Write a dialogue between yourself and a classmate. In the dialogue explain to the classmate how the last paragraph in the chapter helps the reader to understand why Dad is angry when Mr. Hart drives Manny home and gives Manny money. The dialogue might begin as follows: You: Friend: You: In the last paragraph, Dad is pointing to the picture of the president on the twenty-dollar bill while he yells at Manny. So, we know he is angry about the money. It is more than that. 10

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