Holy Trinity Diocesan High School
Living the Christian Life
December 2000
Mr. J. Lannig
See, Judge, Act


Part I Montgomery, Advent 1955. The famous bus boycott signals the beginning of the civil rights struggle in Montgomery. Odessa Cotter, who works as the maid to the Thompson family, is encouraged by Church meetings and the hope of a new order in the South. She is challenged by the distance between her family's home and the Thompson's and her daughter's lack of interest in the boycott.

Miriam Thompson, Odessa’s employer, demands an apology from a police officer who had chased Odessa and Mary Catherine from a "whites-only" park. Because she does not want to be witho9ut the services of a maid, Miriam drives Odessa to work during the boycott, and keeps her “good deed” secret from her husband, Norman, a real estate developer.

Segregation and racism are evident in the comments made by the Thompsons’ friends and relatives, especially Norman’s brother, Tucker.

The lavish Christmas celebrated by the Thompsons is in sharp contrast to the simple holiday at the Cotter's.

Part II Selma, Odessa's daughter, violates the boycott in order to visit her boyfriend. She is harassed by young men and is attacked by them when she leaves the bus. Her brother, Theodore, comes to her rescue and bravely accepts the blows of the attackers in accordance with the nonviolent spirit of the boycott.

While blacks organize themselves in churches, white businessmen form a “Citizen's Council,” a segregationist group, to break the boycott.   Norman is encouraged by his brother, Tucker, to join the "Citizen's Council."

Part III Norman orders Miriam to stop driving Odessa. She refuses and eventually joins the carpool in support of the boycott.

As tensions grow in the city, a rift in the Thompson family grows. Tucker reveals Miriam's support of the boycott and confronts her at an ambush planned by the Citizen’s Council. The boycott members resist nonviolently and the film ends with Norman and Miriam on opposite sides of the demonstration.

Assignment: Please answer the following questions completely.  (typed, double spaced):
1.    What did you think of the film? In your opinion, what were the two most memorable and meaningful scenes? Explain. Do you think that film makers have the right to use violence and racist language? When it is it appropriate or not appropriate?

2.    Explain the importance of any three central characters in the film. Please comment on their personalities and views, and if applicable, how and why they changed throughout the film, and what each character taught you. Use the terms heteronomous and autonomous (Piaget) to describe how one of the characters changed.

3.    Identify and explain two important ideas from "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" that are illustrated in the film. Please use specific passages.

4. In your opinion, what is the message(s) of this film for people today?  What are the moral crises that face society today?

5. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were the two most famous members of Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Why do you think that the film makers did not cast actors in prominent roles as these heroes?

6.    The film begins with the narration of Mary Catherine. She says that there is "something extraordinary about someone who changes and then changes those around her." Explain this statement in light of the film (see page 302 Of "Birmingham Jail").

Extra Credit:
Go the Amazon site and find the listing for the VHS version of the film The Long Walk Home. You will have the opportunity to write a review that will be read by other visitors to the site. Please print a copy of your 150 – 200 word review before you exit the web page.
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Last updated  2008/09/28 07:33:51 PDTHits  335