Chapter 1
• Why do you think the boy is so fond of Sounder? Have you ever felt that way about an animal?
• Do you think Sounder is a good name for the dog? Can you think of any other names that might have suited him?
• What kind of life do the boy and his family have? Do you think it would be easy or difficult for them to change their life? Why?
• The author says that in winter, there are no crops and no pay. What do you think are some of the challenges of raising a family without a regular source of income?
• Where do you think the father got the sausage and hambone? How can you tell that both the father and the mother are worried about something?
• Why is it so important to the boy that he learn to read?

Chapter 2
• What do you think of the sheriff and his deputies? Do you think they are fair law-enforcers?
• Why do you think the father leaves with the sheriff without a fight?
• What does it say about how white people treated black people in this time and place when a deputy calls the father “boy”?• Do you think the father can expect a fair trial?
• Why does the mother seem so calm in the face of such troubles?
• What do you think is going to happen to the boy’s father?
• Do you think Sounder will survive?

Chapter 3
• Why does the boy’s mother return the pork sausage and ham? Do you think it will do the father any good?
• One hymn the boy’s mother often sings or hums has these lines: “You gotta walk that lonesome valley, You gotta walk it by yourself, Ain’t nobody else gonna walk it for you.” How do you think this hymn relates to her life?
• What do you think happened to Sounder? Where is his body?

Chapter 4
• Do you think the mother should have given back the sausages and ham? Why or why not?
• The mother tells the boy that he must learn to lose. She says, “Some people is born to keep. Some is born to lose. We was born to lose, I reckon.” Do you agree with her? Do you think there’s anything she can do to change that?
• Do you think the boy is right to be afraid going into town? Why or why not?
• Were you surprised at how the jailer treats the boy and the cake?
• The boy deals with his hatred for the jailer by imagining him choking himself to death as he had seen a bull once do. Do you think it’s helpful or harmful for the boy to have such thoughts? What would you do if you were in his position?

Chapter 5
• How does the boy’s Christmas compare with the holiday as it is probably being celebrated in most of the big houses in town?
• Why do you think the boy’s mother is kind and gentle to him when he returns from the jail?
• Why do you think Sounder no longer barks?
• Do you think the punishment of hard labor fits the father’s crime of stealing the ham and sausage? Do you think he got a fair trial? Do you think there are ever circumstances when stealing would be okay?

Chapter 6
• Why do you think the boy doesn’t remember his age? What helps you remember your age?
• Do you think the boy should listen to his mother and just waitfor his father to come home, or should he go out looking for him? What would you have done?
• How is the boy usually treated when he searches for his father? Why do you think he keeps searching?
• What is the one good thing about the boy’s search for his father?
• Why are stories so important to the boy? How does remembering them help him during his search?

Chapter 7
• The mother says to the boy, “There’s patience, child, and waitin’ that’s got to be.” Do you think she’s right to be patient? Does she have a choice?
• The boy imagines that, had he been there, his father would have attacked the guard who threw a piece of iron at him. Do you agree? Why or why not?• The boy fantasizes about throwing a piece of iron at the guardand killing him. Why do you think he doesn’t do this?
• When the boy finds a book, he reads a section called Cruelty. How do these words relate to the boy’s life (even though he doesn’t yet understand what they say)?
• Why is the boy sure that the plant the man worries over must be something to eat? Up until now, do you think the boy has often—or ever—been able to enjoy something just for its beauty?
• Do you think this man will help the boy? If so, how?

Chapter 8
• Do you think the mother is right to let the boy go live with the teacher? Is the boy right to go? Why or why not?
• After the boy reads to his brother and sisters, the mother says, “The Lord has come to you, child.” Why do you think she says that?
• Why doesn’t the boy tell his mother what the term “dog days” really means?
• Even before they know the figure they see coming is the father, why do the boy and his mother suspect it is him?
• What does it say about the father that, despite his enormous injuries, he manages to make it home?
• Why do you think the boy and the mother aren’t sadder when the father dies?
• The boy had read in his book, “Only the unwise think that what has changed is dead.” What does that mean? How does this thought console him now? Do you have a memory of someone or something that comforts you when you think of it?