Back

FINDING FREEDOM Study Guide


PART I: SANCTUARY

Sanctuary, p. 3

  • What did Jarvis do to make his cell feel like "home"? Why did he do this?

  • Describe a space you have made "your own". Tell how you transformed it and how it transformed you.

  • Why do you think people need to personalize their environments as you and Jarvis have done?

Little Black Sparrow, p. 9

  • How do you think the moral of Satchmo's story could apply to the inmates' lives?

Pablo's Wish, p. 13

  • Write your own letter to Alice.

The Man Who Talks to Himself, p. 19

  • Why would behavior that's "crazy" on the outside not necessarily be considered "crazy" inside prison?

  • What's your analysis of Mookie? How do you think the world he has created helps or hinders his experience in San Quentin?

  • Can you imagine creating an imaginary world in a setting such as San Quentin? If so, what might it be like?

A Reason to Live, p. 25

  • What was the psychology Jarvis used in changing the young man's mind about suicide?

  • Have you ever felt suicidal or known someone who felt suicidal? What helped you/them feel more optimistic about life?

  • Why do you think Jarvis's technique was successful?

Fruitcakes, p. 35

  • What qualities do we see in Jarvis as he describes the craziness around him? Give examples.

Thirteen Sixty-Eight, p. 47

  • How do you feel about Milton getting out of prison?

  • What can be done to help people like Milton have a positive successful life on the outside? (If you know of programs in existence that have this goal, describe them.)

The Boneyard Visit, p. 51

  • This account of Herbert's conjugal visit shows the humanity of the inmates. What else can you say about it?

  • How does Jarvis's account (Herbert's account) differ from the way sex is portrayed in the media?

Funny How Time Flies, p. 57

  • This story has its funny side, but might evoke other emotions in you, as well. Express these.


PART II: MOURNING EXERCISE

Recipe for Prison Pruno, p. 63

  • Describe your response to this poem.

  • Try your hand at a similar piece of writing using a real event in your life juxtaposed with a recipe, advertisement, or a popular song.

When I First Got Charged, p. 65

  • Talk about the transformation in Jarvis as he allows "wonder" into his life.

Scars, p. 67

  • What is Jarvis wondering about the scars he sees on his fellow inmates?

  • What do we learn about their scars? How have they dealt with them?

  • How have Jarvis's scars affected his life choices? What has he learned?

  • Do you have any scars-physical or emotional-worth exploring? Share your thoughts and feelings.

Me and My Sisters, p. 73

  • Say something about Jarvis's childhood and how it influenced who he is today.

  • How was your childhood similar to or different from Jarvis's? And how did that shape you?

Mourning Exercise, p. 79

  • Expand on Jarvis's last sentence, page 82.

Dream, p. 83

  • What hopes and fears are expressed in Jarvis's dream?

  • Describe a significant dream of your own and its message to you.

Justice Marshall Resigns, p. 89

  • Research how Justice Marshall's resignation affected the Supreme Court.

  • Why are Americans concerned about the President's choices of Supreme Court Justices? What implications do these choices have?

Bryan, p. 91

  • What qualities do we see in Jarvis as he recounts the loss of his friend Bryan? Note examples.

It's Become So Hard, p. 97

  • If you could talk to Jarvis directly, how would you respond to the feelings he's expressed in these two pages?

O.J., p. 99

  • What's going on here? Express your own thoughts about these issues.


PART III: FINDING FREEDOM

For a Long Time, p. 111

  • What questions do you want to ask Jarvis about his Buddhist quest?

Seeking Silence, p. 115

  • Try meditating "before the world is awake". Watch your breath go in and out. Watch what happens as the silence is broken. How does this affect your meditation?

  • While meditating, send positive energy to Jarvis.

  • Write about your experiences during the above meditation.

The Dalai Lama Hat

  • How did this interchange increase Eddie's self-esteem?

  • What kinds of activities/programs might prisons offer to increase the humanity of inmates? (If you know about any such programs, please describe them.)

The Empowerment Ceremony, 123 through 132

  • What teachings from this chapter do you want to integrate into your own life? Why and how?

Angry Faces, p. 133 through Stop! A Buddhist is here!

  • How is Jarvis's Buddhist practice manifested in these chapters?

  • Is it possible to practice nonviolence in any and all situations? Give examples to prove your point.

  • What are your thoughts and feelings about prison as a punishment? Are there any alternatives? If so, what? If not, why not?

  • How did you feel about the death penalty before reading Finding Freedom? How do you feel now? Compare and contrast.

  • Does Jarvis really "find freedom"? How? What does freedom mean to Jarvis? What does freedom mean to you?

  • Write a letter to Jarvis in response to his book. Tell him what you found most meaningful about it.

  • Would you recommend Finding Freedom to others? Why?

  • What do you believe is Jarvis's message?

  • Have you been inspired by Jarvis? What might you do differently now that you have read his book?