Early Autumn

By Robert B. Parker

Robert Parker’s Early Autumn follows Spenser, a detective who is hired by Patty Giacomin to get her son, Paul, back from his farther, Mel. It starts off simple enough, when Spenser is able to easily get Paul back from his farther. But then Mel tries to get Paul back from his mother. Patty hires Spenser to protect them from Mel. And, eventually the situation becomes too much to protect Paul at his home when two men come to Patty’s house forcefully kidnapping Patty in attempt to trade her for Paul. The story is about a boy caught in a tug of war between his mom and dad. He doesn’t know who he is, and he doesn’t know what to do. Spenser is his only hope.


Due Tuesday (1/17) Chapter 10 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Wednesday (1/18) Chapter 11 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Thursday (1/19) Chapter 12 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Friday (1/20) TEST

Due Monday (1/30) CHPTS 13 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Tuesday (1/31) CHPTS 14-16 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Wednesday (2/1) CHPTS 17-19 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Thursday (2/2) CHPTS 20-22 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Friday (2/3) TEST

Due Monday (2/13) Read CHPTS 23-25 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Tuesday (2/14) Read CHPTS 26-28 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Wednesday (2/15) SDRT Read CHPTS 29-31 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Thursday (2/16) Read CHPTS 32&33 w/ Dialogue Journal Questions.

Due Friday (2/17) TEST

Literary Allusions/Challenge

What literary work is he referring to, and who wrote it?

Literary Allusions
"Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary." p.19 Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes Series
"Name's Spenser with an S, like the poet." p. 24
"Join a gang of pickpockets and live in the slums of London?" p. 25 Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
"Make a raft and float down the Mississippi?" p.26 Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
"Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang." p.182 William Shakespeare, Sonnet 73
"Loved I not honored more" p.205 Richard Lovelace, To Lucasta, Going to Wars

Thoreau & Walden


I sometimes wonder that we can be so frivolous, I may almost say, as to attend to the gross but somewhat foreign form of servitude called Negro Slavery, there are so many keen and subtle masters that enslave both North and South. It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself. Talk of a divinity in man! Look at the teamster on the highway, wending to market by day or night; does any divinity stir within him? His highest duty to fodder and water his horses! What is his destiny to him compared with the shipping interests? Does not he drive for Squire Make-a-stir? How godlike, how immortal, is he? See how he cowers and sneaks, how vaguely all the day he fears, not being immortal nor divine, but the slave and prisoner of his own opinion of himself, a fame won by his own deeds. Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate. Self-emancipation even in the West Indian provinces of the fancy and imagination — what Wilberforce(17) is there to bring that about? Think, also, of the ladies of the land weaving toilet cushions(18) against the last day, not to betray too green an interest in their fates! As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

[9] The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

To Lucasta, Going to Wars

TELL me not, sweet, I am unkind
That from nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind,
To war and arms I fly.

True, a mew mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more.
Richard Lovelace

Create a character map, using popplet.

Blog about these:

On page 205 Spenser quotes Richard Lovelace. Why?

On page 182 Spenser quotes Shakespeare's Sonnet 73. Why does he quote this particular sonnet at this particular point in the novel?

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long

On page 140 Spenser talks about the expectations people have for themselves and for others. He talks about how people form categories to make their lives easier. He discusses with Paul the concept of fulfilling a role. Then he quotes a famous American writer. "Quiet desperation," he says. Which writer is he talking about? What book is that quotation from, and what does it mean when applied to people like Mel and Patty?

What does autonomy (p.99) mean and why is it important in this book?
What does autonomy mean to you?
What is self-actualization? Who came up with this idea? How does it apply to the characters in Early Autumn?

Spenser as a Renaissance man.
Gender roles.
How is this book an example of a boy's coming of age?
How does local color play a role in this book?
Which ways does Paul grow? How? Why?
Which way does Spenser grow? How? Why?
Why does Spenser help Paul?
Describe what Spenser means when he says that "nothing is absolute." (p. 76) Why don't Paul's parents care about him?

Early Autumn Vocab Words

Alimony p.10
Cabbie p.15
Embodiment p.31
Vulnerable p.57
Percolator p.65
Counterirritant p.68
Yarmulke p.71
Peignoir p.71
Staggered p.72
Repartee p.78
Lingered p.78
Olatunji p.86
Wompum p.86
Fluted p.88
Voucher p.89
Honkies p.95
Gesticulating p.96
Degeneracy p.99
Autonomous p.100.
Forsythia p.101
Unsynchronized p.113
Tentatively p.113
Dappling p.114
Loon p.118
Translucence p.120
Mattock p.124
Mortimer Snerd p.130
Municipality p.132
Democratically p.133
Ventriloquist p. 131
Gumshoe p.132
Unequivocal p.137
Spaulding p.138
Unadorned p.141
Pumpernickel p.143
Celibate p.153
Lattissimuss dorci p.160
Muzzle p.167
Cerebral p.163
Haunches p.163
Tyke p.153
Marred p.155
Procession p.156
Debacle p.156
Rotunda p.159
Bogie p.162
Pseudo-gothic p.162
Swivel p.167
Menthol p.168
Smolder p.169
Compensation p.171
Contemporary p.177
Jargon p.177
Wino p.181
Autonomy p.186
Seduce p.188
Efficient p.195
Euphemism p. 197
Ante p.206
Relinquish p. 212
Coalesce p.221

Early Autumn Chapter Questions

Chapter 1
1. Reread the conversation on page 8.
What clues can you pick up to indicate that Patty Giacomin is not so prim and proper as she first appears to be?

2. What situation does Patty tell Spenser about concerning her ex-husband? What is her opinion of him? Please be specific.

Chapter 2
1. Give a detailed description of how Spenser gains access to Elaine Brooks’ apartment.

Chapter 3

1. How does Spencer find Mel?
2. Choose one adjective that describes Mel and relate one incident from the novel that
supports your opinion.
3. What do we discover about Mel’s attitude toward Paul? Give reasons for your answers.
4. What question does Spenser ask Paul, and what is Paul’s reaction?
5. Where does Spenser get his name from?
6. What is a literary allusion?
7. Who is being quoted here: “Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary?"

Chapter 4
1. At the beginning of this chapter Spenser continues, or at least tries to continue, the conversation he had with Paul concerning Paul’s living situation. What do we learn about Spenser’s character during this conversation?
2. What philosophy does Spencer try to explain to Paul on page 28?

Chapter 5
1. What can you conclude by the way that Paul and Patty
greet each other on page 31?
2. What does Patty ask of Spencer on page 33? What is your
opinion of this?
3. Spencer mentions something about propriety on page 37.
What exactly does he mean by this?
4.Make a list of new things you find about Spencer and Paul while they are in the Chinese restaurant.

Chapter 6
1. What problem does Spencer approach Susan with on pages 40 & 41? What is her reaction?
2. Why does Spenser insist that this problem is different or more intense?
3. What does he propose to do concerning the problem on page 44? Do you believe him? Why or why not?

Chapter 7
1. How much time has lapsed from the previous chapter?
2. Initially, how important does Patty’s phone call appear to be? After Spencer gets to her home, how important does he think the situation is?
3. In what capacity does Patty wish to hire Spencer?
4. Make a list of the several things that Patty says or does during this chapter to indicate that she is either insincere about her plight or more interested in something else.

Chapter 8
1. Patty reveals her attitude about children and Paul on pages 54 & 55. What is it and what is your opinion of it?
2. What is self-actualization?
3. What is Patty’s attitude toward men?
4. Who is Gloria Steinham?

Chapter 9
1. What does Paul spend most of his time doing?
2. What does Spenser do on page 61 with a certain amount of expertise?
3. Describe Paul’s attitude during this chapter.
4. How does Paul feel about the fact that Spenser cooked dinner?
5. Identify what gender stereotype Mel has about cooking. Explain how you feel about this.
6. Why doesn’t Spenser have ice cream?

Chapter 10
1. What does Patty Giacomin do on page 65? Why does she do this?

Chapter 11
1. Who barges in?
2. Why do they barge in?
3. How does Spenser describe them?
4. How does Spenser know one of them?
5. What does Spenser say about how he feels about killing people? (76)
6. What does Spenser mean when he says: “Nothing’s absolute.” (76)

Chapter 12
1. Describe Hawk. What does he look like, and what type of person is he? Give reasons for your answers.
2. Describe the rescue of Paul and his mother.

Chapter 13
1. Why won’t Patty Giacomin tell the police on her husband?
2. What is diction?
3. What does Hawk mean when he says: “Born beer, die beer.” on page 87.
4. What does Susan mean when she says: “What am I Howard Johnson’s?” on page 88.
5. What is the mood of the conversation on page 89 between Spenser and Susan?
6. What does Hawk do for a living? (91)
7. What color is Hawk’s skin? How can you tell?

Chapter 14
1. Susan is afraid that Spenser will not be able to help Paul . What does she tell him about parents who mess up even with children that they love? (pages 97-98)
2. Why does Spenser insist that he’s got to help Paul?
3. On page 100 there is a reference to the title. Explain the metaphor that Spenser is employing here. Explain how this metaphor applies to Paul’s situation.

Chapter 15
1. What book is Spenser reading? What is it about?
2. Paul thinks reading is boring. Spenser tells him why he reads about people of different
times. What is the explanation? (page 106)
3. What does Spenser tell Paul about liking your work? (page 107)
4. While speaking of Hawk, Spenser says, “He’s not good, but he’s a good man.” What does he mean by this?
5. What is Ozymandias? From the context of the chapter, tell me what it means? Where does Spenser get that word from?

Chapter 16
1. How does Spenser treat Paul when he refuses to get out of bed? Why does he do this?
2. Discuss Spenser’s advise to Paul on pages 113 and 114 . What is he trying to get him to learn?

Chapter 17
1. What is the definition of autonomous? Discuss why Spenser tells Paul that he must be autonomous. (page 123)
2. Discuss Spenser’s philosophy about why it’s important to be good at something.
(pages 122&123)

Chapter 18
1. What is Spenser’s response when Paul asks why machines can’t be used to build the cabin? (page 126)
2. What is Spenser’s response when Paul asks him why lifting weights and building houses has to do with learning autonomy?
3. Where are they? (125)
4. Why doesn’t Spenser use a machine to dig holes? (126)
5. What does autonomous mean?
6. Who is Spenser quoting: “Only when love and need are one.” ? What does this mean? What poem is it from?

Chapter 19
1. Why does Spenser make Paul choose for himself which outfit he is going to wear?
(page 133)
2. How does Susan act in the restaurant? Why do you think she is acting this way?
3. What did Spenser do in Korea? (131)
4. What does Spenser mean when he says: “I don’t have the build for it.” ? (131)
5. Why does Spenser say: “I decided not to kiss him.” ? (131)
6. What metaphors does Spenser make to describe the clothing store, Louis’? (132)
7. What is a gumshoe permit? (132)
8. What happened at the MFA? (133)
9. Why does Spencer stop and look at Susan from Gloucester Street? (134)
10. What’s wrong with Susan at dinner? (135)

Chapter 20
1. What is Spenser’s reaction when Paul says that he’s been told that all male ballet dancers are “fags?” (page 138)
2. Explain Spenser’s talk with Paul about why Paul’s father categorizes people. (page 139)
3. Explain what Spenser means when he says that “too much positive is either scared or stupid or both.” (page 139-140)
4. What do you think Spenser means when he says “quiet desperation.” (page 140)
5. What is Spenser’s advice to Paul on how to live his life? (page 140)

Chapter 21
1.What does Spenser mean when he says that “the concept of a fair fight is
Meaningless?" (page 144)

Chapter 22
1. Why has Patty Giacomin decided to let her husband have Paul?
2. What does Spenser know will happen when Mel Giacomin finds out he’s doing his wife a favor by taking Paul? (page 149)
3. On page 151 Spenser quotes Johnathon Keats’ poem, Ode ro a Grecian Urn. What is the quotation? And why does he use it? What does the quotation describe?

Chapter 23 & 24
1. What does Susan mean when she says that “even parents who dislike...” (and abuse)... “their childrenn resent giving them up.” pages 156-157
2. What does Spencer decide to do in order to help Paul ? What is his reasoning for doing this ? page 172
3. What is Captains Courageous? (154)

Chapter 25. What are Spencer’s feelings about why Harry Cotton refuses to be pushed around?

Chapter 26
What does this mean: “Readiness is all.” ? Who does Spenser quote from? Who first wrote these words?

Chapter 27
1. Explain why Spenser thinks it would be better for Paul to live at a boarding school than with him. page 186
2. Explain what Hawk reveals to Spenser in this chapter.

Chapter 28
What book does Spenser suggest that Paul take out of the library? Why is this a good book for Paul?

Chapter 29
Explain what Spenser learns about Patty Giacomin in this chapter.

Chapter 30
1. Explain why Spenser doesn’t want Mel in jail.
2. “I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honor more.” This is by Richard Lovelace, from Lucasta. To Lucasta, Going to the Wars//, stanza 3.

Chapter 31
1, Explain the difference between Spenser and Hawk when it comes to shooting Harry Cotton . page 210
2. Why do you think Hawk did what he did?

Chapter 32
1. Discuss the deals Spenser makes with both Mel and Patty in this chapter.

Chapter 33
1. Discuss the stipulation Spenser makes about Paul coming home to see him and why he makes this stipulation. page 220
2. How does Paul change during this novel?
3. Did you like this novel?
4. Explain why you liked or didn’t like it.