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Sr Gil
In the Heat of the Night
Chapter Questions

Directions: Complete all work on separate paper. Answers should be in full and complete sentences.

Chapter 1
1. By what details has the author made clear that the setting of the story is a small town?

2. The character of Sam Wood is developed in several instances in the chapter. Discuss and develop his character by referring to:
a. his opinion of his job
b. the reference to the killing of the dog
c. the Delores Purdy incident
d. the conversation wit h the night man at the restaurant
e. Sam’s ability to cope with a crisis

3. How is the racial issue – a main theme of the book – clearly introduced in Chapter 1?

Chapter 2
1. Describe in detail the character of Chief Gillespie. Use references from the chapter to support your claims.

2. Describe the encounter between Sam and Virgil. What characteristics of each stand out during this instance? How is the reader affected by this encounter?

3. What effect has the final statement of the chapter?

Chapter 3
1. In Chapters 1 and 2, the racial issue has been hinted. Now we see a clear indication that this issue will be a major item in the story. Illustrate this by specific reference to speeches and actions of the main characters.

2. What degree of authority does Gillespie hold within his own police department? Use references to support your answer.
3. Compare the efficiency of Tibbs and Gillespie as investigators. How does this incident further develop the contrasting opinions we have of the two men?

4. Give the significance of the following: a. “That’s what he’s got a shirttail for.” (p. 28) b. “Nobody could tell him that a colored man could do anything he couldn’t do.”
(p. 27) c. “I don’t intend to sue you or Mr. Wood for false arrest. You don’t need to bother with a release. Thanks for your hospitality.” (p. 29) d. “Like I said, Virgil, we know our business down here. Go home.” (p. 29)
Chapter 4
1. Why does Gillespie ask Virgil to stay until evening?

2. Describe Gillespie’s treatment of the prisoner, Harvey Oberst. What was his method of investigation?

3. Give details which Virgil uses to show that Oberst is innocent of the murder. Do you agree with his logic? Explain.

4. Show how the author has used both irony and understatement to heighten the impact of Virgil’s reply, “They call me Mr. Tibbs.”

5. How does George Endicott react upon first meeting Virgil Tibbs? Compare his reaction with that of Sam and Gillespie. Give the significance of this comparison.

Chapter 5
1. Explain Gillespie’s sudden hostility to Virgil at the opening of the chapter.

2. What characteristic of Virgil is emphasized by his reaction to Gillespie’s outburst?

3. Who is Frank Schubert? Over what issue do he and Gillespie come into conflict?
How does he finally convince Gillespie of the worth of using Virgil on the case?

4. Comment on the following: a. To Gillespie’s intense relief, he didn’t smell. (p. 48) b. “If Chief Morris asked me to,” Tibbs replied promptly, “I’d go to England and look for Jack the Ripper.” (p. 48)
c. “They had a murder here this morning. They don’t know what to do about it, so they’re using me for a fall guy.” (p. 50) d. “I can give you some good references,” Tibbs answered. “They’re in California.
San Quentin.” (p. 52)

5. Who is Eric Kaufmann? What is his alibi for the evening before?

Chapter 6
1. Why did Harvey Oberst at first resent Virgil’s questioning him, and what argument did Tibbs use which finally changed Oberst’s mind?

2. Why was Sam somewhat nervous as he did his rounds on the evening following the murder? Chapter 7
1. When Gillespie phoned to check on Eric Kauffman’s alibi, he was again forced to accept that he was inferior to a Negro. Why? Explain.

2. Why does Gillespie look foolish during Virgil Tibb’s questioning of the suspect

3. Comment on the significance of Gottschalk’s parting remark: “That’s a relief; I wish all the cops were like you. And if I may say so without offense, I’m glad to see that democracy has hit the South in something besides the political sense.”

4. What startling revelation did Tibbs present after Chief Gillespie was about to press the point that Gottschalk might have been the murderer?

Chapter 8
1. Explain the significance of Reverend Amos Whiteburn’s comment: “As long as I have been in this community, this is the first time I have ever been consulted by the police. I take it as an honour.” (min. 3 sentences)

2. Virgil has come to Reverend Whiteburn for help in his investigation. a. What two things is Tibbs interested in discovering? b. Summarize the additional plot information given to the reader by means of this interview. c. Explain the significance of the remarks; “To the best of my knowledge, no one has suggested that the murderer is necessarily a Negro.” “That is in itself a small miracle.”

Chapter 9
1. Explain the significance of the opening paragraph of this chapter.

2. Gillespie’s studying brings him to a conclusion about Virgil. What is this? What does he decide to do for his own sake?

3. This whole chapter is devoted to developing the character of Gillespie. How does each of the following contribute?
a. Kaufmann’s request to carry a gun and Gillespie’s decision on this matter.
b. The letter marked “Very Personal.”
c. The failure of Arnold to pass on the report to Gillespie.
d. Gillespie’s willingness to blame Sam on superficial evidence.
e. Gillespie’s new resolve to keep Virgil on the case.
f. Gillespie’s reaction to Virgil’s new evidence.
g. The arrest of Sam Wood.

Chapter 10
1. How does the Purdy’s blaming of Sam further complicate the plot? What role does
Virgil play in the interview?

2. Why does Virgil now go back to visit Enidcott?

3. How does Sam Wood react to his arrest and to the charges against him?
Chapter 11
1. The theme of racial prejudice and injustice is most forcefully brought out again in this chapter. Illustrate how the following have been used to emphasize the hopelessness of the Negro’s position in Wells:
a. the opening dialogue between Jess and Virgil over the Lincoln
b. the attack on Virgil
c. the policeman’s reaction to Virgil’s statement: “I’ll prefer charges.”
d. the insulting of Dr. Harding.
e. the attacker’s threat: “I’ll demand a jury trial. You know what that means.”
f. the treatment of Virgil by Mr. Purdy

Chapter 12
1. “ I haven’t finished my job. The world is full of a lot of people who never accomplished anything because they wouldn’t see it through. I have two things left to do here: to get you cleared and out of here, and to deliver a murderer to Gillespie. Then I can go home.” Show how Virgil accomplishes the first part of his mission by:
a. his interrogation of Sam
b. his reconstruction of the evidence regarding Delores
c. his account of Sam’s bank deposit

Chapter 13
1. Compare and contrast the Sam Wood we meet in the early paragraphs of Chapter 13 with the man we knew at the beginning of the story. Account for any changes that the story has produced.

Chapter 14
1. How does this chapter deal with each of the following? a. the solution to the murder plot b. the furtherance of the romantic plot c. the underlying racial issues d. the effect of all these events on the town of Wells

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