As a middle school English Language Arts teacher, I have taught this novel using traditional English Language Arts strategies in which students examine how dialogue, scenes and setting serve to reveal the characters’ true nature, motivations and intentions. The novel is historical fiction, so an overview of the historical content of the socio-political structures of the Jim Crow era where the plot is set were referenced, but not foregrounded to meet curricular scope and sequence pacing. Lesson outcomes reflected mastery of standard language conventions (such as punctuation in dialogue) and inferred character traits (traits determined by what is said, done, and believed). Although these are important skills, my approach to teaching this novel missed the opportunity to take a deep dive into issues of race, racism, and inequality. It could be argued that my teaching defaulted to a neutral approach to teaching this novel that reinforces issues of colorblindness in the curriculum. This unit considers an approach to de-neutralize perspectives in favor of critical thinking that promotes students’ engagement in character analyses about “aggrieved peoples who have always had to negotiate state violence and cultural erasure, but who also work to build the worlds they envision.”i Recognizing the argument that “it isn’t enough to include texts by historically aggrieved populations in the curriculum and classroom without producing new approaches to reading,”ii this unit presents a different approach to reading the text by foregrounding the socio-political forms of power preluding the Civil Rights era. Students will engage in critical character analysis by analyzing the antecedents of these forms of power that shape the larger story and underpin character motivations.