Page 8. " His hands shaped the words in a swift series of designs "

                       

In America, the standard sign language is ASL (American Sign Language). ASL differs from BSL (British Sign Language) and the two are not mutually intelligible. Before the 1950s, ASL was a subject of great controversy, with the language suppressed in schools and in society. Nowadays, it is estimated that between 500,000 and 2 million people in America use ASL as their primary language.

Page 9. " the largest buildings in the town were the factories, which employed a large percentage of the population "
cotton mill
Public Domaincotton mill - Credit: Keystone View Company

In the 1930s, many Southern towns relied on the textile industry for employment. Mills and factories dominated the skyline of a great number of small and medium-sized towns. 

 

Page 19. " war in the orient "

In 1927, civil war erupted in China, between the Chinese Nationalist Party and the Communist Party of China. Externally, the Nationalists were supported by the West and the Communists by the Soviets. In China today, the conflict is referred to as the "War of Liberation".

The war was interrupted in 1937 when the two sides united against the Japanese invasion. After World War II, the civil war resumed, only ending when the Nationalist leadership of Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan in 1949.

 

Page 24. " don't you know you can't bring no nigger in a place where white men drink? "

It wasn't until the 1960s that the African-American Civil Rights Movement secured the end of legalised segregation. After the abolition of slavery in 1865, a "separate, but equal" policy was adopted by local governments in America. There were separate drinking fountains, cafes, schools, parks and seating areas on public transport.

The Civil Rights Movement was kick-started when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery for a white passenger on 1 December 1955.

Page 25. " Masons? "

masonic seal
Public Domainmasonic seal - Credit: Baal-Hiram: wikipedia
The Freemasons are a fraternal society established in the 16th and 17th centuries. Members are subject to a strict hierarchical system, and discussion of the group is forbidden with non-members. Modern estimates suggest worldwide membership of around 5 million.