The Moves Make the Man Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 44 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Moves Make the Man.
This section contains 789 words
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The Moves Make the Man Summary & Study Guide Description

The Moves Make the Man Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Moves Make the Man by Bruce Brooks.

This novel for young people tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a young black man and a young white man in the racist southern United States of the early 1970's. As Jerome and Bix build their relationship, they each encounter difficulties at home that, in Jerome's case, strengthen his resolve to live a rich independent life, and in Bix's case lead him to discover some painful truths. In addition to issues associated with racism, the narrative also explores themes tied to the relationship between honesty and lies, and between perception and reality.

The story, narrated by Jerome, begins with his description of his determination to write down Bix's story, and of the lengths he went to in order to be true to Bix's memory following his disappearance. Jerome also describes, in some detail, the occasion when he first saw Bix - at a baseball game in which Bix played for a whites only team, during which he played amazingly well and he was visited by his mother, who behaved strangely.

The story proper begins with "Second Part," in which African-American Jerome is told he is to attend a whites only school as part of a government-mandated effort to end racial segregation. Jerome describes how, when he arrives, he has a couple of race-defined confrontations, but for the most part has a positive experience - until, that is, he tries out for the school basketball team, and in spite of his flashy, skilled playing, is bounced out of the tryouts by a racist coach. Shortly afterwards, Jerome's beloved mother suffers an injury that puts her in the hospital and out of the lives of her family, forcing Jerome and his two brothers to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, Jerome is given the opportunity to join a home economics class, which he takes because he is told it will help him learn to cook, and in his mother's absence, he has been left in charge of cooking the evening meal and not doing too good a job at it. When he joins the class, Jerome learns that there is another boy in the class, but he is away that particular day. At the next class, however, that boy is present, and turns out to be the baseball player Jerome had previously admired. Their first assignment is to bake a mock apple pie, which is judged to be both the most attractively put together and the most flavorful. When Bix learns of the pie's success, however, he reacts angrily, saying that his and Jerome's success has come as the result of a lie, and he never lies.

Bix's outburst causes him to leave the class, but Jerome eventually reconnects with him on a local basketball court where, after an initial conflict, Jerome teaches him how to play basketball. Bix is a fast and good learner, but reluctant to incorporate what Jerome calls "moves," or faked movements/gestures designed to draw an opponent off-guard. Calling them lies and protesting that he doesn't ever tell lies, Bix storms off the court, ending their tutorials. The boys don't see each other for a while, but eventually reconnect when Bix searches Jerome out and asks him to referee a one-on-one basketball game between him and his father. The game, Bix explains, is the result of a confrontation over whether Bix should be allowed to see his mother, who is now in an insane asylum. Bix is determined not only to win, but to win without using "moves" (i.e. lies). When the game actually takes place, however, both Bix and Jerome are surprised to see how accomplished a player the stepfather is, incorporating fakes and "moves" that, at first, put Bix's victory in jeopardy. But after an on-court confrontation, in which the stepfather reveals how Bix's determined honesty triggered a breakdown in his mother, Bix resolves to prove his stepfather wrong, to see his mother and prove she loves him. He resorts to "moves" that fake his stepfather out, and win him the game.

Jerome accompanies Bix on his visit to his mother, who turns out to be so mentally ill that she initially does not recognize her son. As Bix is leaving the hospital, his mother suddenly realizes who he is and screams for him, but it's too late - Bix is gone. Jerome describes in narration how he and the stepfather traced Bix to a bus bound for Washington DC but got no further, and how Jerome got a postcard with no message from Washington that he believes to have come from Bix. The narrative concludes with Jerome's commentary that "moves" (i.e. lies) always have consequences, for both the person told the lie and the person telling it.

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