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Who would Turner be without or Elwood be Without Turner? (Nickel Boys)

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To write this essay you will need to of read the book "Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead 

The Nickel Boys Essay

Colson Whitehead has described Elwood and Turner as “two different parts of my personality” with Elwood Curtis being “the optimistic or hopeful part of me that believes we can make the world a better place if we keep working at it,” and Jack Turner, “the cynical side that says no -- this country is founded on genocide, murder, and slavery and it will always be that way.” 

Review your Nickel Boys Guided Reading Notes (Parts I, II and III), Turner Sketch and Elwood All Grown Up assignment and consider what one character would be without the other character. Select one of the following questions to answer in a three page response, staking an arguable thesis with specific quoted evidence from the text as suppor

  1. Who would Turner be without Elwood? Review the Prologue and the Part 3 Future Chapters of The Nickel Boys.


  1. Who would Elwood be without Turner? Review Part 2 and the Part 3 Flashback Chapters of The Nickel Boys.


Monday, February 28th 

  • Complete the following tasks in class:
    • select one of the two prompts above
    • create an outline (introduction, three body paragraphs and conclusion) and 
    • begin to draft the introduction and first paragraph.
  • Homework: Complete the introduction and the first paragraph of your essay. Begin to draft the second paragraph. 

Tuesday, March 1st

  • Continue to work on the first draft of your essay: 
    • complete the second paragraph and 
    • begin to draft the third paragraph and conclusion.
  • Homework: Revise and edit your first draft in preparation for peer editing tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 2nd

  • First draft is due for peer editing activity.
  • Homework: Review your classmates’ feedback in order to revise and edit your essay.

Friday, March 4th

  • Submit your final draft to Schoology.

Thesis establishes a clearly articulated, genuine 

purpose and arguable claim.

Introduction has logical and meaningful context for 

the assignment, includes the text and author, and 

provides relevant background information (little to no

plot summary). Conclusion addresses a counterclaim 

and moves the reader to a deeper understanding 

of the character. 

Carefully selected, specific support, not plot summary, 

is used to prove the argument. All examples relate 

back to the thesis. 

Analysis of quotes and examples from the text is thorough 

and offers perceptive and precise insight, and directly 

supports the thesis. Quotes include specific passages that 

directly link claims to the overall thesis. Minimum of three 

quotes are properly cited. (Whitehead Page #

Writing supports a clear progression of ideas and fluid

transitions between paragraphs. Topic sentences reflect 

the author’s purpose and the entire paper flows in a 

logical order.

Appropriate and precise use of word choice - no use of 

first or second person narration, general narration, 

cliches or informal language. Well developed and 

varied sentence structure engages and assists in 

reader’s understanding.

Use of proper and sophisticated grammar, spelling and 


**I need a draft by Wednesday if it's not too much to ask. If not, Friday is fine. 

My notes are included if that helps at all


Student’s Name


Professor’s Name


Who would Turner be without or Elwood be Without Turner? (Nickel Boys)


The Nickel Boys is a novel written by Colson Whitehead based on a true story and basing it on American history on Jim crow. The climax of this novel is when Turner and Elwood run to their freedom, but Elwood is killed by Harper while Turner manages to jump over a fence and disappears by the woods. The setting of the novel is on hypothetical Nickel Academy in Florida. Whitehead presents various themes that stand relevant today. Some of the addressed themes in the novel are depression and trauma, power, fear, sacrifice, unity, hope, and racism, among others. Elwood and Turner best present the themes of sacrifice, unity, support, hope, and secrecy in their relationship. Both Turner and Elwood have a long sustained friendship and support each other as they are facing adversities and oppression. Elwood’s friendship with Turner is able to sustain him. Turner is more helpful to Elwood than Elwood has been to him; he has a good understanding of the schools and thus offers to protect Elwood from oppression and later offers to help Elwood flee after discovering the school wanted to kill him. However, Elwood is killed before they manage to flee (Martín-Salván, 12).

Turner is caring and minds the fate of Turner; he advises Elwood when he approaches him with a proposal of sneaking a letter to the government inspectors when they visit school. Turner understands the risks that are associated with writing that letter when they are discovered because they will all be in trouble. “I’m going to give it to the inspectors when they come.” What do you think they going to do? Put your picture on the cover of Time magazine?” I did it to stop it” (Whitehead, 81). Turner earlier had promised Elwood to protect him in his stay in the institution and give him the support that he would need. “I said I’ll do it, I’ll do it. You got someone else? ”Elwood gave it to him and ran north without a word” (whitehead, 80). It is adherence to these words that Turner rethinks on his stand on the letter and decides to take the letter by himself. Spencer, the superintendent, learns this and decides to call Elwood, later beats him and confines him. The schools feel that they are agitated by Elwood, and there is a plan to execute Elwood for...


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