Toning the Sweep Summary & Study Guide

Angela Johnson (writer)
This Study Guide consists of approximately 25 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Toning the Sweep.
This section contains 418 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Toning the Sweep Summary & Study Guide Description

Toning the Sweep 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 on Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson (writer).

Emily is a young African American girl who lives with her parents, her mother Diane and her father, in Cleveland, Ohio. From the time she was born, Emily has spent her summers in Little Rock, California, living at her grandmother Ola's house in the California desert. Diane spends some or all of the summer with Emily at Ola's.

When Emily is about fourteen years old, her grandmother Ola is diagnosed with cancer. Ola decides against aggressive therapy and decides that she will die gracefully and without most medical care—a decision that leaves Diane exasperated and sad. Emily and Diana travel to Ola's house where they spend about two weeks packing up, preparing to move Ola to Cleveland, Ohio, where she will spend the rest of her life. Ola's house has many belongings and almost all of these are boxed up and given to friends and neighbors, or sent to goodwill.

The novel's principal timeline concerns itself with these two weeks of packing. During this time, Ola visits often with Martha Jackson, an older woman who has provided foster care to wards of the State of California for dozens of years. One of Martha's foster children is David Two Starr, a sixteen-year-old American Indian. David has been a foster child at Martha's for at least ten years. Emily and David are close friends and spend a lot of time together. David often encourages Emily to find out about her family history. While the three generations of women pack together, they share many stories.

The most significant story discussed is the death of Charles Lundon Werren, Ola's husband and Diane's father. Charles and Ola had lived in Alabama until 1964. That year, Charles finally had saved enough money to purchase a brand new luxury automobile. Shortly after purchasing the car, Charles was murdered and the car was vandalized, apparently as an act of racial hatred. A few days later Ola and fourteen-year-old Diane departed Alabama and moved to California, taking with them only the automobile and a few boxes of belongings. Ola had abandoned her house and everything in it. Later, Diane had grown up, got married, and moved away from the desert that she never really liked. Ola had remained there ever since. Much of Emily's time is spent filming and documenting Ola's life and home in the desert with a video camera borrowed from Martha. As the novel concludes, the three generations of women prepare themselves to leave the California desert, probably forever.

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This section contains 418 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Toning the Sweep Study Guide
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