1. Draw a map of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Louis. Note other key towns from the story on your map, including Cairo, Grand Tower, and Carbondale. Then trace the trips of these characters: Howard Leland Hutchings, Delphine and Calinda, and Noah Pruitt.
This activity is designed to help the reader visualize where the Pruitts lived and why this location was so important early in the Civil War. Successful maps will convey that readers grasp the relative positions of key towns along the Mississippi.
2. The story you just read includes many important historical dates. Using a reference book, look up the dates for the following events: Lincoln's Inauguration, The Battle of Bull Run, The Battle of Belmont, and the attack on Ft. Sumter. Then, construct a timeline showing the order of these events. Fill in the timeline with three to five events from the story.
Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861. Ft. Sumter was attacked on April 12, 1861. The Battle of Bull Run was fought on July 21, 1861. The Battle of Belmont was fought on November 7, 1861. Possible events from the story to use include Noah's departure from home, the arrival of Delphine and Calinda, Tilly and Delphine's trip to Cairo, Mama's meeting with the ladies from town, and Noah's return.
3. At the end of the story, we learn Calinda chose to leave Grand Tower for California. Imagine you are Calinda writing a letter to Delphine and the Pruitts. Describe your journey westward and discuss what you are doing in California. Be sure to mention what you miss most about Illinois and what you like most about the West.
This activity will encourage readers to imagine what the enigmatic Calinda might sound like in a letter. Readers are told that after the war, Calinda goes west to California where she hopes to pass herself off as Spanish. Her fate is unknown to the other characters so readers have an opportunity to be creative. Possible topics to include in letters include life in the West, her feelings about racism, and possible thoughts of her brother in France.