Reading Questions: The Measure Of a Man
8. At the end of chapter 3, Sidney turns down a role that would have paid $740 dollars a week—money that Sidney and his family desperately needed. Sidney reveals his motives for turning down the role to the readers (something he would not reveal to his agent at the time) as being related to the character's lack of dignity. What do you think of his decision? Would you consider it foolish or brave? Where would you draw the line for yourself? Would you be able to make this kind of sacrifice for dignity?
9. Sidney describes meeting a 19-year-old girl named Louise in acting class at the American Negro Theatre. He quotes Louise as saying, "If I have anything to say about it, by the time my grandchildren get here, this hypocrisy democracy is going to do some changing." Do you think that America has come a long way in regard to racial issues since the 1960s? What has changed? What still needs to change? What can we do to help eliminate "hypocrisy democracy"?
10. When asked by a major production company to sign a loyalty oath denouncing one of his friends, Sidney refuses at the risk of losing his next acting job. What does this situation tell you about Sidney as a person? Has your workplace or social circle ever asked you to take sides against a friend or colleague? Explain. Would you be able to stand up for your principles at the cost of your job or social circle?
11. In chapter 5, Sidney explains the title of his book when he writes that his father always said that the true measure of a man was how well he provided for his children. Obviously, family was, and continues to be, the most important thing to Sidney. What do you think of his definition of the measure of a man? What is your own personal measure of yourself? How would you measure your own success?
12. In chapter 6, Sidney discusses anger, its causes and its outlets. He writes, "This injustice of the world inspires a rage so intense that to express it fully would require homicidal action; it's self-destructive, destroy-the-world rage" (p. 128). Have you ever felt anger like this? If yes, what was the situation that caused it? How do you deal with your anger at injustice?