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Answer to Discussion Questions for "Cross Creek"

1.  See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.

2.  What are the differences between The Yearling and the events set out in "Cross Creek"? Suggested Response: There are many. Here are three. In the novel, the child with the pet deer is a boy named Jody. The father in the novel doesn't commit suicide and is a role model for his son. This last change allows Rawlings to develop the theme of a good relationship between father and son. In the book, Jody finishes off the deer himself. This allows Rawlings to develop the issues of accepting responsibility and coming of age.

3.  Does the fictional story of The Yearling tell less of a human truth than the realistic tale of "Cross Creek"? Suggested Response: No. The literary truth of the Yearling is just as powerful as the literal truth of "Cross Creek."

Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


1.  Would you run away if your father had to kill your favorite pet in order to prevent it from eating your family's food? Suggested Response: The right answer is "no" because running away is extremely dangerous. A pet, any pet, is not worth the risks inherent in running away. In addition, in this case there was a reason the pet had to be killed.

2.  What could have happened to Ellie when she ran away? Suggested Response: Ellie could have gotten lost, or she could have suffered an injury. She could have been robbed, raped, or kidnapped. (In today's world sexual abuse and "white slavery" are additional risks.)

3.  Running away from home is obviously risky behavior. In today's world, what are some of the alternatives to running away if life at home becomes intolerable? Suggested Response: The first step is to try everything you can think of to change the situation short of running away. Be creative; think outside the box. Try to get everyone or yourself into therapy. If absolutely nothing will work and you must leave, staying with a trusted friend or relative is a good idea. There are also social service agencies that will help you find a place to stay. These are available through the police, your school or youth group counselor, or a religious leader such as a minister, priest, or rabbi.

4.  What is the most important unexpected consequence of Ellie's reaction to her father killing the deer? Suggested Response: Her father flips out and dies.


See the Quick Discussion Question.

5.  What assets do modern families in developed countries have in dealing with a crisis at home which were not available to the Turner family in Cross Creek? Suggested Response: There are many. Here are two that a good answer would refer to: (1) a developed social service network that has places for children to stay for a while if they've left home and (2) family and individual counseling and psychological therapy. A well trained counselor, for example, would have comforted a distraught Ellie and pointed out that her father had no choice but to kill the deer. If Ellie had run away, a counselor would have led Marsh Turner to an understanding that his panic and grief were based upon an unrealistic view of his relationship with his daughter, would have reassured him that he would have a good relationship with his daughter in the future, and would have guided him to a less dependent relationship with her when she returned.


6.  Did Marsh Turner commit suicide or was his death caused by a misunderstanding? Suggested Response: There is no one right answer. See Did Marsh Turner Commit "Suicide by Cop" or Was his Death The Result of a Tragic Misunderstanding? located in the Helpful Background Section.

7.  Two related questions: (a) Was Marsh Turner right when he thought that his relationship with his daughter would never be the same? (b) Can you think of a strategy that he could he have used to deal with the situation other than killing himself or placing himself in a situation in which the sheriff killed him? As you answer, notice the resources are available to most people in developed countries that could have changed this situation. Suggested Response: (a) Marsh was right that his relationship with his daughter would never be the same. However, it wasn't irretrievably lost and could have become a great deal better if it was placed on a healthier footing. (b) There are several strategies Marsh could have used: Just waiting until Ellie had matured would be enough to change the dynamic of the situation. There is a term physicians use called "tincture of time." By this they mean that the body often heals itself without the doctor doing anything. The same is true in human relationships. Intervention through therapy and counseling were another strategy, but these were probably not available at the time. Therapy would have helped the Turner family resolve their conflicts over the deer, change the overly involved dependent relationship between Ellie and her father, and move the family toward a system that promoted the personal fulfillment of individual family members. Family therapy or even individual therapy would also have helped Marsh Turner overcome the very serious psychological problems and unrealistic expectations that he had which contributed to his suicide/dangerous behavior.

8.  The sheriff shot and killed Marsh Turner. Shouldn't he have just wounded him? Suggested Response: Certainly just wounding Turner would have been better. The risk was that a wounded Marsh Turner could shoot back at the sheriff. The question of when to shoot and where to shoot is a constant problem for conscientious police officers.

9.  What is a stakeholder and who were the stakeholders in the father's decision to commit suicide or to engage in behavior which would put him in a dangerous situation? Suggested Response: A stakeholder is a person who is affected, directly or indirectly, by the decision of another. Each member of Marsh Turner's family was a stakeholder in his decision to commit suicide or to take action that put his life in danger. The message of rejection of love being offered and the disinterest in offering love to surviving family members are the overriding messages that a suicide leaves behind. It's very difficult for children to recover from this type of unalterable and absolute abandonment. Spouses are especially hard hit by the rejection implicit in suicide.

Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.

1.  Analyze the actions of any major character in the film applying two tests which any ethical action must pass: (1) The Golden Rule: Would the person taking the action want to be treated by others in the same way? Or, alternatively, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" and (2) The test of universality: Would it be good for society if everyone acted that way in a similar situation? Suggested Response: There is no one right answer to this question. Here is an example of a good answer referring to Ellie's decision to run away: Ellie would not have wanted people who were important to her to run away if she had disappointed them. If everyone ran away from people who had failed to meet their expectations or with whom they were in conflict, opportunities for personal growth and reconciliation would be lost.

2.  The plots of most films turn on one or more ethical choices which must be made by the characters in the movie. Which of The Six Pillars of Character, if any, are involved in the plot of this film? Tell us whether the ethical decisions made by the characters complied with the standards set out in the Six Pillars. Justify your opinion. Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer to this question. We offer three examples of good answers: (1) Assume Marsh Turner intended to commit suicide: (A) Marsh was not standing by his family and friends; he was opting out of loving and responsible relationships. This violated the Pillar of Trustworthiness. (B) Marsh, as a loving husband and father, wouldn't want his family members to kill themselves if they became disappointed in something, even in a major relationship. Yet he subjected each of them to a life of regret. His conduct violated the Pillar of Respect and was a breach of the Golden Rule. (C) Fathers/husbands are supposed to care for their families. Marsh couldn't do that from the grave. This violated the Pillar of Responsibility. (D) Marsh also violated the Pillar of Caring, because suicide is always a message to your family that you don't care about them enough to go on living.

(2) If Marsh didn't intend to commit suicide, he violated the same Pillars (although with less intent) by placing himself in a position in which he knew or should have known that he could get hurt.

(3) Ellie's action in running away: (A) She violated the Pillar of Trustworthiness by failing to stand by her family. She knew that the food eaten by the deer was necessary for her family and that there was a good reason to kill the deer. (B) She didn't follow the Golden Rule because no parent wants a child to run away, but she ran from her parents. This violated the Pillar of Respect. (C) As to the Pillar of Responsibility, she didn't do what she was supposed to do, which was to talk to her parents and ultimately to obey them. (D) Finally, the Pillar of Caring was violated again because her actions were designed to cause pain to her parents in retribution for the death of the deer.


(Be honest; Don't deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable -- do what you say you'll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal -- stand by your family, friends and country)


(Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)


(Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)


(Play by the rules; Take turns and share; Be open-minded; listen to others; Don't take advantage of others; Don't blame others carelessly)


(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)


(Do your share to make your school and community better; Cooperate; Stay informed; vote; Be a good neighbor; Obey laws and rules; Respect authority; Protect the environment)

Last updated December 29, 2007.

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