Discussion and Writing Questions

  1. What reaction do you have to the conditions that workers faced at Grady Hospital?
  2. What were the health and safety issues for the laundry workers?
  3. Why did the laundry workers rule out going on strike?
  4. What might have happened if they would have called for a strike?
  5. What tactics did the laundry workers use?
  6. What helped workers stick together at Grady?
  7. How did the laundry bosses retaliate?
  8. How did the bosses try to divide the workers?
  9. What role did race and racism play in the events at Grady?
  10. How did Billy and Bob’s manager respond to the workers? In what ways was it different and in what ways similar to how Billy and Bob responded to the workers? What accounts for the difference?
  11. James uses the expression “dignity.” What does it mean to him? Why is it important?
  12. This story takes place in the South. How does the history of race in the South influence events in the story? Could the events here have taken place in a Northern city? What differences or similarities might there have been?
  13. What social classes are depicted in the story? How does social class influence the events described here?
  14. In your opinion, what is the significance of the events described in the story?
  15. How do you think the events described here affected the white narrator?
  16. Do any of the events in the story remind you of anything from your own life?