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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock

1.How were Elizabeth and Hazel’s lives up until September 4, 1957, alike? How were they different? How about after that day?

2.Consider Elizabeth’s experience at Central High School: how might her life have been different had she not decided to become part of the small group of blacks attending Central in 1957?

3.How do you think you would have responded to the treatment that Elizabeth and the other black students received? If you had been one of the Little Rock Nine? If you had been one of the white students? (Consider thetime and place --- and be honest.)

4.Author David Margolick notes on page 192: “Lots of students, black and white, identified with Elizabeth. Anyone who’d ever felt abused, or alienated, or lonely, or just different from everyone else --- and who in high school hasn’t? --- would have.” Are there ways in which you have identified with Elizabeth? How about Hazel?

5.At age fifteen, Hazel became notorious for a moment that was frozen in a famous photograph that spoke of hatred and racism, a moment for which she has since apologized and has tried to atone. “There’s more to me than one moment,” Hazel has said. Discuss the ways in which Hazel has tried to rise above the moment for which she is remembered. Should she be held responsible forever for something she did at such a young age? To what point should an adult be held responsible for something done in youth?

6.Years later, Elizabeth is astonished to hear Hazel say that she doesn’t remember her feelings about what she did on September 4, 1957, or how her family and others close to her felt about it --- that “there wasn’t much conversation about it,” that it was just a matter of “hamming it up and being recognized --- getting attention.” Elizabeth finds this unbelievable (page 235). What do you think motivated Hazel that day? Racism? Just being part of the crowd? Attention seeking? Do you think that she had any sense of the import of her actions at that time? What do you think about Elizabeth’s response?

7. By the end of Elizabeth and Hazel, the friendship between the two has unraveled. What do you think that the future holds for the two? Do you see them establishing friendship again? Was it ever a true friendship? 

Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock
by David Margolick

  • Publication Date: October 4, 2011
  • Genres: Biography, History
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher:
  • ISBN-10: 0300141939
  • ISBN-13: 9780300141931