1. What is the importance ofgossipas a cultural practice for communities inThe Heart of Happy Hollow? In what ways is gossip detrimental to the communities presented in the collection? How is it beneficial?2. In "The Scapegoat," when Mr. Asbury is visibly involved in politics, he faces treachery and persecution. It is only when he publicly disavows politics that he gains untouchable, unthreatened power. What might the author be suggesting about the nature of political "power"? Is Asbury's strategyto secretly manipulate the political power structure, while outwardly disavowing politicsa legitimate, viable political stance? Or must one be vocal and visible to be political? Is the quiet but powerful Asbury victorious by the end of "The Scapegoat"?3. As he stands trial for thievery in "The Mission of Mr. Scatters," the title character tries to cast some blame on the community of Miltonville. In his extremely eloquent (and equally deceptive) defense speech, he charges the entire town with its own share of wrongdoing. Though Scatters is the only person on trial, what wrongs have been committed by Isaac Jackson? Martha Jackson? The townspeople? In what ways does the author place these individuals on trial? Why are they, too, guilty?4. In many of the stories, including "A Matter of Doctrine," the "truth" is something to be ornamented, to be embellished, to be remolded to suit the situationalmost like a song in the mouth of a gifted singer, or a piece of clothing draped upon a stylish young woman. Discuss three instances of embellished truth inThe Heart of Happy Hollow. What separates these embellished truths from outright lies? Is there even a difference? How do individuals justify these embellished truths and how do they distinguish them from lies?5. In "Old Abe's Conversion," the author describes two versions of religion: Abram Dixon's version of religion, which is based on inciting emotion and creating spectacle; and Robert Dixon's, which is based on quietly invoking reason. Does the author endorse one over the other?6. Why do you think Dunbar constructs "The Race Question" as a monologue rather than a narrative? What is the effect? Do you think it would be more or less effective as a narrative?7. Dunbar depicts several patriarchal black men, among them Reverend Dixon in "Old Abe's Conversion" and Jeremiah Anderson in "The Wisdom of Silence." And yet, these men are often enlightened by the wills and insights of women and children. Do you think Dunbar is critiquing patriarchy? Why or why not?8. In stories like "The Triumph of Ol' Mis' Pease" and "Cahoots," individuals are assigned names or titles that reflect their experiences and which seem todeterminetheir lives. Why is the act of naming so important, so decisive, inThe Heart of Happy Hollow? As many of the people who populate these stories are former slaves, what special historical significance might naming hold?9. Considering that James Buford fails to steal the old widow's money in "The Promoter," who do you think will receive the pension after all? If it does go to "white folks"in a power structure where whites actively and systematically disenfranchise black peopleis the situation really any better than it would have been with the money in the hands of Buford? Is justice truly served?10. In trying to convince Aunt Dicey to side with him, Buford declares: "we col'red people has got to stan' together." Instead, Dicey turns him in toDunbar, Paul Laurence is the author of 'Heart Of Happy Hollow A Collection Of Stories', published 2005 under ISBN 9780767919814 and ISBN 0767919815.