Major Characters

Sebastian: Sebastian is a 16 year old boy who has lived with his Nana in the dome in Iowa for most of his life. Nana has home schooled him and has raised him on the philosophy of R. Buckminster Fuller. When Nana has a stroke, through the process, Sebastian unexpectedly befriends the Whitcomb family. He has a crush on Meredith. He is a socially awkward young adult who speaks in a literal manner and has a rich vocabulary who is struggling to figure out the world and find himself.

Jared: Jared is a punk-rock lover who is recovering from a heart transplant. He is a quiet, yet opinionated male. He is often rude but that is how he copes. He becomes friends with Sebastian. Jared sparked Sebastian’s interest in punk-rock and started the band.

Nana: Nana, aka Josephine Prendergast, home schooled her grandson Sebastian and closely follows the beliefs of R. Buckminster Fuller. She occasionally listens to classical and whale music. After her stroke, she notices some change in Sebastian and says he has failed her and the world.

Minor Characters

Janice Whitcomb: Janice is Jared and Meredith’s mother. She works as a Youth Group Leader. She is constantly worried about Jared.

Meredith: Meredith is Jared’s sister who Sebastian has a crush on. Meredith pretends to be with guys because she likes the closeness. She has a habit of sneaking boys in and out of her room. She is mean to her brother because she is trying to give him normalcy.

Character-Related Questions

Who is the most important person in Sebastian’s life? Why?

How is Sebastian different from most people his age? Think about his interaction with people, his knowledge, his speech, and what kind of new situations he experiences.

At the beginning of the novel, what is Sebastian’s job?

Describe Sebastian and Jared’s friendship?

How does Sebastian grow up in this novel?

Does Sebastian find himself? If so, how? If no, why?

What motivates Jared to keep on living?

How does music affect Jared’s life?

What was your first impression of Jared?

What kind of music does Jared listen to? Does the music match his personality? Explain.

What drives Nana?

What is wrong with her?

What are some of the ideas Nana follows? How have they impacted Sebastian?

What obstacles has Janice overcome?

What is Mrs. Whitcomb’s job?

What was your first impression of Janice Whitcomb? Does she fit the stereotype of American mothers?

If you could use three descriptive words to describe Meredith, what would they be? Why?

Who is Meredith related to?

How does Meredith cope with her brother’s illness?

Sebastian says he likes staying with the Whitcomb family. How does Meredith say her family is dysfunctional?

What secret is Janice Whitcomb and Meredith keeping from Jared?

Who is the most important character in this novel? Defend your answer with examples.

Which character narrates the novel? Why is this important? How does it impact you, the reader?


Venn Diagram: Students will create a Venn Diagram for Sebastian and Jared. The students will examine the similarities and the differences between both characters.

Character Pie Chart: At the middle and the end of the novel, students will fill out a pie chart of how much other characters in the novel influenced Sebastian. The class will compare and contrast the difference and the growth in Sebastian’s character.

Coat of Arms: Students will fill out a coat of arms on one of the characters after reading a few chapters of the novel. The images, quotes, and words on the coat of arms will represent the character.

Says/Means Chart: Students will use a graphic organizer that allows students to write what a character said in the novel. In the next column, students will record the inferential meaning or reword what was said by the character. This allows students to see there is deeper meaning in what the character says. 

Open Mind Activity: After reading Chapter 12, the student will complete the Open Mind activity. Open Mind allows the students to analyze the inner-workings of a character of their choice. It is a gateway activity for students to start thinking about character analysis. At this point in the novel, all of the characters have been introduced and their major motivations are clear. However, there are still many events to come that could change their motivations and interests. A second Open Mind can be done at a later point in time, or another activity that is similar,  to monitor character development. 

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