How to Read Literature
|Gifted Hands by Ben Carson
Carson's autobiography is the inspiring story of an
inner-city kid with poor grades and little motivation, who, at
age thirty-three became director of pediatric neurosurgery at
Johns Hopkins University Hospital. Dr. Carson serves as a role
model for young people in need of encouragement to attempt the
seemingly impossible and succeed.
Questions for Discussion
- Ben and Curtis Carson were
traumatized by the "deathly silence" of their parents’ disputes.
Which evokes more fear, silence or heated verbal arguments? What were the
roles of the parents in Ben’s development?
- Carson felt an absence of
role models in his life. How did role models affect him? Where did he get
- What are the psychological
effects of "capping" or "playing the dozens" within a
culture? Is it specific to the African-American culture? How might it
affect intercultural relationships?
- Some describe Carson as a
"goody-two-shoes." Contrast his autobiography with Malcolm X’s,
Claude Brown’s Manchild in a Promised Land, and Nathan McCall’s Makes
Me Wanna Holler.
- The book explores both
teamwork and competition. Which one lends itself to a capitalistic
economic system? Or do both?
- Carson was plagued throughout
his school by the pernicious belief on the part of some teachers that
"Blacks are not as smart as Whites." Why is that attitude
prevalent today? Do African Americans believe this theory?
- Carson calls his temper
"pathological." How was he able to deal with it? Is "the
young angry Black male" just a myth?
- How "relevant"
should education be? What arguments can be made for a broad-based
education? For a specialized education?
- Why is there an overemphasis
on clothes and possessions in our society? Is it limited to one particular
age, soci-economic, or ethnic group?
- Carson faced many
difficulties in his life. What part did his inner drive, religious
beliefs, and/or lessons from his mother play in helping him overcome each
- The concept of
"mentoring" is discussed in the book. How does Carson define the
mentoring process? How important was it to his success?
- Carson experienced many
miracles in his life. What part of this is inspiration and what part
preparation? Do they have any relevance to ordinary experience?
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