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Study Guide: A Hope In the Unseen by Ron Suskind - Online Notes

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A HOPE IN THE UNSEEN: STUDY GUIDE / BOOK REVIEW

LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

A Hope in the Unseen is set primarily in three cities. The story begins in Washington, D.C., primarily the inner city neighborhood in the Southeast, where Cedric Jennings lives and attends Frank W. Ballou High School. Another major D.C. setting is Scripture Cathedral, where Cedric and his mother Barbara worship. The second city is Boston, Massachusetts, where Cedric attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a high school summer program. The third city is Providence, Rhode Island, particularly Brown University and the neighborhoods surrounding it.


CHARACTER LIST

Major Characters

Cedric Lavar Jennings
A student at Frank W. Ballou High School who is determined to achieve academic success. He is known as Lavar by his family, but in school is known as Cedric.

Barbara Jennings
Cedric's mother, she is forty-seven at the start of the book. A devout Christian woman, she works as administrative support for the Department of Agriculture.

Clarence Taylor
A chemistry teacher at Ballou who takes a special interest in Cedric and helps him apply to the MIT summer program for gifted minority students.

Phillip Atkins
A popular junior who is the class clown and hopes to become an entertainer.

LaTisha Williams
A large girl who is also an outcast at the school and a close friend of Cedric.

Donald Korb
A wealthy Boston optometrist who becomes a special benefactor of Cedric.

Nanette "Neddy" Jennings
She is Cedricís half-sister. Fathered by a man different from Cedric's father, she is thirty-one at the start of the book and no longer living with Barbara and Cedric.

Cedric Gilliam
The father of Cedric Jennings and a career criminal.

Bishop C.L. Long
Head of the Scripture Cathedral, the black Pentacostal church that Barbara and Cedric Jennings attend.

Bill Ramsey
A successful African American graduate from MIT who now runs the MIT Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program as its administrative director.

Leon Trilling
The white faculty director of the MIT MITES program, originally raised in Poland.

Rob Burton
Cedric's freshman dormitory roommate at Brown University.

Professor Tom James
Teaches the History of American Education that Cedric takes in his first semester at Brown.

Chiniqua Milligan
The only other African American in Cedric's freshman dorm unit at Brown. She comes from a middle class family from Manhattan, New York.

Zayd Dohrn
The son of 1960s counterculture figures, who befriends Cedric through a shared interest in music.

Bernadine Dohrn
Mother of Zayd Dohrn, a former leader of the Weather Underground and one-time counterculture fugitive.


Helaine Schupack
A gifted tutor who is contacted by Donald Korb to help out Cedric.

Larry Wakeford
The instructor of Cedric's Fieldwork and Seminar in High School Education class.

Minor Characters - Ballou High School

Richard Washington
The principal of Ballou during Cedric's Junior year.

Marion Barry
Mayor of Washington D.C. who appears at Ballou for a rally honoring top students.

Tevin Campbell
Famous rhythm and blues singer who appears at Ballou for the same rally.

Unnamed students
Tease Cedric for not attending the awards ceremony.

Joanne Nelson
Math teacher at Ballou who handles Cedric's Unified Math class.

Crack dealer in Redskins jersey
Overheard by Cedric at the Martin Luther King Avenue bus stop about swapping sexual favors for crack.

Crack dealer in soft leather jacket
The person conversing with the crack dealer in Redskins jersey.

Reggie Ballard
Assistant principal at Ballou.

Mr. Dorosti
An Iranian immigrant who teaches computer science at Ballou.

Mr. Momen
An Iranian immigrant who teaches Advanced Physics at Ballou.

LaCountiss Spinner
Cedric's rival for the highest grade point average in his class.

Unnamed girl in physics class
Teases Cedric when he catches her looking at his worksheet paper.

Unnamed pudgy boy
One of the students who picks on Cedric.


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