1. Summer and Cletus like to look at people they see in advertisements and make up stories about what kind of lives they lead. Pick a photograph from a magazine advertisement or a newspaper and try to write a story about what you imagine that person is really like.
Cletus collects pictures, "Anything with a story to it!" he says. (p. 18) While looking at one picture he got from the barber shop, he tells Ob and Summer he thinks the "Brylcreem guy's nerves are bad. He's always cleaning under his fingernails and tweezing out his nose hairs and picking at his teeth." (p. 21) Ask your class to bring in an assortment of pictures clipped from magazines or newspapers, like the kind Cletus would keep in his suitcase. Shuffle them and distribute new pictures to each student. Ask the class to imagine the stories behind the pictures and to write them down. Volunteers can share their stories and pictures with the class.
2. Cletus seems like a character who is bound to do great, interesting things with his life. Try to imagine what he turns out like in twenty years, after he's moved to the big city, and write a scene in which he comes home to visit his old friends in Deep Water. How do you think he's different? How do you think he's stayed the same?
When Cletus first reacts to the State Capitol, Summer says she can imagine Cletus "being Fayette County's elected representative to the legislature and driving over to Charleston to put his head together with other important heads and enact profound laws." (p.70) Cletus has a unique take on life as evidenced by his passion for collecting and the way he connects with people such as Ob. Whatever Cletus does in his life, it is likely that it won't be boring.
3. Ob calls his whirligigs "The Mysteries," and Summer comments on how they look like nothing else she's ever seen. They even have strange names like "Fire" and "Love" and "Dreams." Try to draw a picture-using lots of color-of what you imagine these pieces of art might look like.
When Summer first comes to live with May and Ob, she says she "stood there before those shelves, watching these wonders beginning to spin as May turned on the fan overhead, and I felt like a magical little girl...." (p.7) Ob takes something ordinary, a whirligig that might be found in someone's front yard, and turns it into art that is creative, beautiful, and unique. Ask your students to include a title with their picture.