University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: Bird by Zetta Elliott

Field of Philosophy: Ethics; Aesthetics: Social and political philosophy

Plot Summary:

Some discussion questions:

Art and Reality
1. Is Bird’s grandfather correct when he says that his brother’s graffiti is not art? Is art only found museums?
2. Does the emotions Bird feels when he looks at his brother’s art play a role in the decision about whether Bird’s brother’s graffiti is art?
3. If we define art as determined by its function, is Bird’s work art? His brother’s? What is the function of Bird’s art vs. his brother’s?
4. How does Bird’s art reflect the reality of his situation?
5. How do you think Bird’s art makes him feel about his family situation?
6. Can art change reality?
7. Who decides what is art?

Death and Religion
1. Why does it makes “sense” to Bird that his grandfather is watching over Marcus?
2. How does Bird’s spiritual belief’s influence how he creates art?
3. How does Bird’s belief in heaven change the way he views his brother’s and grandfather’s passing?
4. If others in society do not share your beliefs, does that make them not real or less real?
5. What role does the existence of heaven have in our society?
6. How did Marcus’ addiction affect his family? Could the family have done anything to save Marcus?
7. What obstacles could have prevented Marcus from making different choices?

Justice and Obligation
1. Does society have an obligation to those whose ability to make choices is impeded by obstacles?
2. What is justice?