sounder n : a device for making soundings
- Finnish: luotain
Sounder is a young adult novel by William H. Armstrong. It is the story of an African-American boy living with his sharecropper family in Depression-era Louisiana. Although the family's difficulties increase when the father is imprisoned, the boy still hungers for an education.
Plot summarySounder is based on a true story. The main character, the family's eldest son's name is simply Boy. His father is a sharecropper, and works hard for very little money. His mother tries hard to make the best out of what little food they have. The "Sounder" of the title is the father's devoted hunting coon dog (a bloodhound/boxer mix), named for his loud voice.
When the family hears that the father is being transferred to another prison in the South, they can no longer visit him because no one will tell them where he's been taken. The boy goes looking for his father's work crew, against his mother's objections. He does not find his father, but he sees a group of convicts working hard in the sun behind a fence. A guard throws iron at him, injuring his hands, but he escapes without further injury.
On the way home, the boy saw a man throwing a book away and, since he's always wanted an education, he picks up the book. He then sees students running out of a school building. A teacher at the school offers to let the boy live with him so he can attend the school and get an education.
He goes home and asks his mother for permission to go to school. Although this means even more work for her, she agrees. The boy spends about a year at the teacher’s house, with a couple of visits to his mother. Afterwards, he goes home for good. One day, old Sounder, who sleeps most of the time, comes to sudden life as a figure slowly approaches, dragging one side of his body. The boy's father has finally come home, released early after a terrible accident partially paralyzed him.
FilmIn 1972, Sounder was made into a film starring Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks, Carmen Mathews, Taj Mahal, and Eric Hooks. It was written by Lonne Elder III and directed by Martin Ritt.
Academy Award Nominations
In 2003, ABC's Wonderful World of Disney aired a new film adaptation, reuniting two actors from the original. Kevin Hooks directed and Paul Winfield played the role of the teacher. (Winfield and Hooks played father and son, respectively, in the original version.)