Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

4.5: The Story of Viola Desmond

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Learning Goals

    At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

    • Understand and use new vocabulary words
    • Read words ending in -le
    • Summarize a text
    • Change two simple sentences into a compound sentence
    • Use irregular verbs
    • Discuss your short-term goals
    Different water coolers for people of colour

    Get Ready to Read

    • What is racism?
    • Have you seen or experienced an example of racism?


    Figure out what the bold word means by looking at how it is used in the sentence. Match it to the best meaning.
    1. Viola had her own line of beauty products. a. Responsible for carrying out a crime or doing something wrong
    2. The police had to drag her. “I just sort of went limp,” Viola said. “I didn’t want to make it easy for them.” b. A person who helps people with the law
    3. She was found guilty of paying for a balcony ticket and sitting on the main floor. c. Something that is sold in stores
    4. Nobody had told her she could call a lawyer, so she had to argue for herself in court. d. Not firm or stiff
    Check your work with the Answer Key at the end of this chapter.
    Answer each question with a complete sentence. Use the word in bold.
    1. What are your favourite products from the grocery store?
    2. Some people think that the prison system does not help people who are guilty of crimes to act differently in the future. What do you think?
    3. Would you want to be a lawyer? Why or why not?
    Ask your instructor to check your work.

    Word Attack Strategy

    A syllable is a beat in a word. Each syllable has one vowel sound. For example, cat has one syllable. Catnip has two syllables: cat + nip. Syllables follow different patterns. In this chapter, you will study the consonant –le pattern.

    Word Patterns

    Look at these words:

    • table
    • little
    • able
    • single

    They all end with a consonant followed by the letters –le. These three letters make one syllable:

    • ta-ble
    • lit-tle
    • a-ble
    • sin-gle

    Every syllable needs a vowel. The e is just there to be a vowel. The e is silent.

    Break these words into syllables.

    1. cuddle = _______ + _______

    2. giggle = _______ + _______

    3. staple = _______ + _______

    4. ankle = _______ + _______

    5. puddle = _______ + _______

    6. candle = _______ + _______

    7. handle = _______ + _______

    8. sprinkle = _______ + _______

    9. paddle = _______ + _______

    10. sample = _______ + _______

    11. middle = _______ + _______

    12. battle = _______ + _______

    13. bottle = _______ + _______

    14. title = _______ + _______

    15. example = _______ + _______ + _______

    Join two syllables to make a word.


    fid ple
    cat dle
    ap tle


    sim cle
    un dle
    cra ple


    strug ble
    puz gle
    ca zle
    Check your work with the Answer Key at the end of this chapter.

    Use Your Reading Skills

    Read The Story of Viola Desmond in your reader. Return to this page when you are done.

    Check Your Understanding

    Sum Up the Main Idea

    1. What is the topic of this text?

    a. Viola Desmond

    b. Beauty products

    c. Movie theatres

    2. What is the main idea of this text?

    a. This text explains what to do if you get arrested.

    b. This text is about the history of movie theatres in Nova Scotia.

    c. This text tells the story of how Viola Desmond stood up for the rights of black people in Nova Scotia.

    Check your work with the Answer Key at the end of this chapter.
    3. Open and print this Sum It Up sheet. Fill it in with the main idea.

    Writers support their main ideas with details. A detail could be a fact or an example. What details support the main idea? In other words, what did Viola do to stand up for the rights of black people in Nova Scotia?

    4. Add supporting details to your Sum It Up sheet. You do not need to fill all the boxes.
    Ask your instructor to check your work.

    Understanding Cause and Effect

    Read the words in 1, 2, 3, and 4. Choose the best ending to complete each sentence: a, b, c, or d.

    1. Viola went to see a movie at the Roseland Theatre _____

    2. Viola was taken from the theatre by police _____

    3. Viola had to defend herself in court _____

    4. The province got rid of its racist laws _____

    a. because her car broke down and she was waiting for it to get fixed.

    b. because Viola’s case brought people together to fight for equality.

    c. because she refused to sit where the black people were supposed to sit.

    d. because nobody told her she could call a lawyer.


    Compound Sentences

    We can make our writing more interesting by using a variety of sentence types. So far, you have learned about simple sentences. A simple sentence has one subject and one verb. In this lesson, you will study compound sentences.

    A compound sentence joins two simple sentences together with a comma and one of these words:

    and used to add information
    but used to show contrast
    or used to show options
    so used to show the effect of something

    These words are called conjunctions. Conjunctions are joining words.

    Turn each pair of simple sentences into one compound sentence. Remember to add a comma and a conjunction. The first one is done for you as an example.

    1. Viola had some free time. She decided to go to a movie.

    Viola had some free time, so she decided to go to a movie.

    2. Viola wanted to sit on the main floor. The staff told her she could not.



    3. Viola went back to the ticket booth. She asked for a ticket for the main floor.



    4. She was told that the main floor was for white people. The balcony was for black people.



    5. Viola could not see from the balcony. She sat on the main floor.



    6. The police said, “You must move now. We will arrest you.”



    7. Nobody had told her she could call a lawyer. She had to defend herself.



    8. She did not know how courtrooms worked. She was found guilty.



    Check your work with the Answer Key at the end of this chapter.

    Irregular Verbs

    Grammar Rule

    To make the past tense form of most verbs, add an –ed ending:

    • Viola dreamed of having her own beauty product business.

    • She decided to go see a movie while she waited for her car to be fixed.

    • She asked for a ticket for the main floor.

    • The police grabbed her by the arms and took her from the theatre.

    • Her husband begged her to forget about what had happened and move on.

    Some verbs break this rule. These verbs are called irregular verbs. You have to memorize the past tense form of irregular verbs.

    Match each present form verb to its irregular past tense form.
    Present Tense Form Past Tense Form
    1. say did
    2. make left
    3. go told
    4. take began
    5. come brought
    6. see wrote
    7. know thought
    8. get kept
    9. fight became
    10. find felt
    11. do said
    12. think saw
    13. tell made
    14. become got
    15. leave found
    16. feel fought
    17. bring took
    18. begin went
    19. keep knew
    20. write came
    Fill in the blanks. Use the past tense form of the verb in brackets.

    Oscar Peterson was one of the most famous jazz musicians in the world. But as an African Canadian, he faced a lot of racism. He (begin) _______________(21) his career as a musician at age 14. People (call) ______________(22) him “boy” even after he grew up. His fame (take) _____________(23) him many places, so he often stayed in hotels. Some hotels (tell) _____________(24) him to leave because of the colour of his skin. There were restaurants where he (play) _____________(25) for white crowds but then had to go eat in his car. White people (do) _____________(26) not eat with black people. He (say) _____________(27) that sometimes he lost his temper over these things. But later on, he just (feel) _____________(28) sorry for racist people. He (keep) _____________(29) on making music. He (write) _____________(30) a song called Hymn to Freedom. The song was inspired by the people who (fight) _____________(31) for equal rights. Hymn to Freedom was played during the ceremony in which Barack Obama (become) ______________(32) America’s first black president.

    Check your work with the Answer Key at the end of this chapter.
    Oscar Peterson


    Write a Summary

    Writing Task

    Look back at the Sum It Up sheet you wrote about Viola Desmond. Write a summary of the text. It should be between 5 and 10 sentences.

    Use this checklist to edit your work:

    • Did I write it in my own words?
    • Did I avoid giving my opinion?
    • Did I begin with a topic sentence that says what I am summarizing and who wrote it?
    • Did I include the main ideas?
    • Did I leave out less important details?
    • Do all of my sentences have a subject and a verb?
    • Did I use regular and irregular verbs correctly?
    • Is my summary the right length?

    Ask your instructor to check your work.

    Write a Postcard to Your Future Self

    Look back at your Long-Term Goals Medicine Wheel. Choose one long-term goal. Make a list of small steps you could take this week to move toward that goal. These are called short-term goals. For example:

    Long-Term Goal Short-Term Goals
    Get a job as a carpenter.
    • Attend all my classes.
    • Get to school on time.
    • Do all my homework.
    • Ask questions when I don’t understand something.
    • Eat and sleep well so I can focus.
    Have a stronger body.
    • Ask a friend to be my workout buddy.
    • Get a gym pass.
    • Work out at the gym four times a week.
    • Eat healthy food.

    Writing Task

    Imagine yourself 10 years from now. You have reached your long-term goal. On the A Postcard from My Future Self sheet (also shown below):

    1. Write a message to yourself about what you did to reach your goal. Use your list of short-term goals to help you.

    2. Describe what you like about your life.

    3. Choose a picture for the front of your postcard. You can draw one or find one to glue on.

    Ask your instructor to check your work.


    Answer Key

    1 c
    2 d
    3 a
    4 b
    Word Attack Strategy
    1 cuddle = cud + dle
    2 giggle = gig + gle
    3 staple = sta + ple
    4 ankle = an + kle
    5 puddle = pud + dle
    6 candle = can + dle
    7 handle = han + dle
    8 sprinkle = sprin + kle
    9 paddle = pad + dle
    10 sample = sam + ple
    11 middle = mid + dle
    12 battle = bat + tle
    13 bottle = bot + tle
    14 title = ti + tle
    15 example = ex + am + ple
    16 fid-dle, cat-tle, ap-ple
    17 sim-ple, un-cle, cra-dle
    18 strug-gle, puz-zle, ca-ble
    Check Your Understanding
    Sum Up the Main Idea
    1 a
    2 c
    Understanding Cause and Effect
    1 a
    2 c
    3 d
    4 b
    Compound Sentences
    1 so (answer given)
    2 but
    3 and
    4 and
    5 so
    6 or
    7 so
    8 so
    Irregular Verbs
    1 say said
    2 make made
    3 go went
    4 take took
    5 come came
    6 see saw
    7 know knew
    8 get got
    9 fight fought
    10 find found
    11 do did
    12 think thought
    13 tell told
    14 become became
    15 leave left
    16 feel felt
    17 bring brought
    18 begin began
    19 keep kept
    20 write wrote
    21 began
    22 called
    23 took
    24 told
    25 played
    26 did
    27 said
    28 felt
    29 kept
    30 wrote
    31 fought
    32 became


    Different water coolers for people of colour
    “Colored” drinking fountain from mid-20th century with african-american drinking by Ilmari Karonen is in the public domain.

    Oscar Peterson
    Oscar Peterson by Tom Marcello is used under a CC BY SA 2.0 license.

    This page titled 4.5: The Story of Viola Desmond is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Shantel Ivits (BCCampus) .

    • Was this article helpful?