Literature and Composition
All of my classes are supported by Moodle pages. Check there for copies of handouts, assignments and other resources.
Here are the individual Moodle sites:
Here’s a list of assignments, sorted by class.
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The queen, my lord, is dead.
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
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Assignments, handouts, etc.
Discussion Schedule (have the reading finished by these dates)
Tuesday, May 14 (1-47)
Monday, May 19 (48-63)
Thursday, May 22 (64-79)
Wednesday, May 28 (80-95)
Monday, May 30 & June 2 (96-104)
Writing and Performance Assignment Schedule (late work not accepted)
“Where I’m From” poem due May 20
“Character Sketch” due May 23
“Essay of Place” due May 29
Oral Poetry Slam June 4
“Persuasive Essay” due June 6
Finished Google Web site June 6
What is “the chief end of man"--or, in other words, what is the purpose of life?
Why can we never leave our youth and childhood behind?
Can fly fishing, or any art, take the place of religion in a person’s life?
In what ways do men and women tend to differ? In what ways are they the same?
What should the relation between men and women be?
What is place? What role does it play in our lives?
What is “it” in “a river runs through it.”
A River Runs Through It, like Huckleberry Finn, features a river as a central image. In what ways are the rivers in these two novels similar? In what ways do they differ?
What does Norman get from fishing? Why does it matter to him?
First, write a “Where I’m From” poem to use in the personal profile of your Ning page.
Then, create a Web page with four quotations from the book and four photographs that illustrate the quotations. These quotations each communicate a different piece of information about the novel:
- a quotation that shows the importance of place (the setting) in the novel
- a quotation that shows the relationship between two characters (e.g., for A River Runs Through It, the two brothers)
- a quotation that helps establish a metaphor explored in the book (e.g., for A River Runs Through It, the river or fly-fishing is a metaphor for life)
- the quote from the novel, the one passage or quotation that captures the essence, the true meaning, of the novel for you
Next, write three hyperlinked pieces: an essay of place, a character sketch and a persuasive essay explaining the quotation you’ve chosen as the quotation of the book
While you’re reading, keep a response reading journal that collects quotations from your readings. Include these details for each journal entry:
- Two significant quotations from the day’s reading and the page number that they appeared on.
- Personal connections between your own life and events in the day’s reading.
- Two interesting questions you want to discuss further in class.
Assignment Guide Sheet
Assignment 1: “Where I’m From” poem (May 20)Put this poem on your Ning page as your personal profile. Here’s a template to use in writing the poem.
This blog post has a list of links to student “Where I’m From” poems
Assignment 2: Four quotations on your home page (using Google Page Creator) with explanatory paragraphs
Choose quotes from the novel and four photographs that illustrate the quotations. These quotations each communicate a different piece of information about the novel:
* a quotation that shows the importance of place (the setting) in the novel
* a quotation that shows the relationship between two characters (e.g., for A River Runs Through It, the two brothers)
* a quotation that helps establish the metaphor explored in the book (e.g., for A River Runs Through It, the river or fly-fishing is a metaphor for life)
* the quote of the novel, the one passage or quotation that captures the essence, the true meaning, of the novel for you
Write a paragraph giving a “close reading” of each quote and post this below the quote.
Assignment sheet for quotations
Assignment 3: Character Sketch (May 23)
Write a character sketch of someone who has had some special meaning in your life. Provide specific details about the person and your relationship, and explain how this person helped form you into who you are today.
Publish your character sketch on your Ning blog. Later, you will move it to your Google web site, and at that time you should make a link to the quotation that youve chosen from your novel which shows the relationship between two characters. If possible, include a photograph (recent or historical).
Gathering thoughts for a character sketch
Respond to the following prompts, allowing several minutes for writing answers to each question, to begin gathering details and ideas for their character sketches:
- Think about the person you want to write about--why is this person important to you? why do you want to tell someone else about him or her?
- Now that you have a particular person in mind, focus on giving your readers a strong image of the person. First, what do you see when you look at the person? How does the person dress? Describe the person’s gestures or facial expressions.
- Next, talk about how the person talks. What topics does the person talk about? What kind of words does the person use? What makes you recognize this persons voice?
- What values are important to this person? What does the person care most about, and how can you tell?
- Think of a specific time you were with this person. Briefly tell the story of your time together--just get your ideas down. You can expand on them later.
- What kind of emotional reaction do you want your reader to have to this person? How do you want your reader to feel after reading about him or her?
Assignment 4: Essay of Place (May 29)
Write a descriptive essay about a place that has had some special meaning in your life--a place that is still a part of you. Provide specific physical details about the place, and explain how this place helped form you into the person you are today.
As you get started, take a few minutes to think about how you want to order your essay: What will you summarize? What will you dramatize? Will you use chronological order or flashback?
Publish your essay of place on Ning then solicit comments on it. When it is finished, post a copy on your Google web page along with at least one photograph. Link the page to the quotation of place that you’ve chosen from your novel.
Here’s a complete unit I wrote for “Writing an Essay of Place.” It’s a larger process than I’m asking you to do, but it’s a good source of ideas.The hunger for place is a hunger for orientation in a universe that cannot be known. Think of the consummate folly of attempting to go away from here when the constant endeavor should be to get nearer and nearer here.
Here are all the friends I ever had or shall have, and as friendly as ever. . .A man dwells in his native valley like a corolla in its calyx, like an acorn in its cup.
Here, of course, is all that you love, all that you expect, all that you are.
Henry David Thoreau
Assignment 5: Persuasive essay arguing for your view of A River Runs Through It and including what you think is the quotation that best gets to the heart of the novel. (June 6)
If you really want to get better at this sort of writing, read this little essay, ”Writing about an idea or a theme in a literary work,” very carefully. Underline things and think about them.
Assignment 6: Turn in your reading journal. It should include at least 5 entries, and each entry should include the following:
2 quotations with page number
notations making personal connections
2 interesting questions you want to discuss further in class
Assignment 7: Participate meaningfully in class seminars on the novel, focusing on close reading of passages in the novel. Come prepared with your reading journal and with questions to discuss. These discussion may take place orally or they may take place online, using the Ning Forum.
1. Poetry Slam: Oral reading of your “Where I’m From Poem” suitable for uploading to You Tube
2. Original photography illustrating your “essay of place” and character sketch.
3. Best 3 Google Web pages: 40 bonus points (completeness, thoughtfulness and beauty)
Handouts and Notes
“Close Reading” from the Atlantic Monthly
Poem: “A Ritual to be Read to Each Other” by William Stafford
It’s tricky to get photos to school, since they’re blocked in email and flickr is also blocked. Try to insert your photos at home. If you can’t do this, you can upload photos to Mosaic, then download them at school so you can insert them into your webpage. See me for a demonstration.
Jan 14 Chap 1-2 (1-25)
Jan 15 Chap 3-4 (26-39)
Jan 18 Chap 5-6 (40-52)
Jan 19 Chap 7-8 (53-65)
Jan 20 Chap 9-10 (66-85)
Jan 21 Chap 11-12 (86-100)
Jan 22 Chap 13-14 (101-111)
Jan 25 Chap 15-16 (112 - 128)
Jan 26 Chap 17-18 (129-151)
Jan 27 Chap 18-20 (152-173)
Jan 28 Chap 21-22 (174-187)
Jan 29 Chap 23-24 (188-198)
Feb 1 Chap 25-26 (199-215)
Feb 2 Chap 27-28 (216-226)
Feb 3 Chap 29-30 (227-241)
Feb 4 Chap 31-32 (242-258)
Basic Chronology for Flathead Reservation
1812: Canadian trapper David Thompson reaches Flathead Lake
1841: Jesuits (blackrobes) establish mission in this region
1846: Fort Connah (Hudson Bay Company) established
1855: Hellgate Treaty
1882: Railroad right-of-way agreement for Northern Pacific
1891: Removal of Charlo and his Salish band from the Bitterroot
1910: Opening of the Reservation to homesteaders
Flier published by Great Northern Railroad advertising the opening of the Reservation
Local Historical Background
1. First whites in area were fur traders and trappers. Angus McDonald built Fort Conah. This was part of the Hudson Bay Company, which was a Canadian company.The fort, which can be seen to the east of Highway 93 on Post Creek Hill, was closed after the northern border of the U.S.A. was established.
Angus was married to Catherine, a Nez Perce woman. Many fur traders and trappers married Indian women, for the usual reasons of companionship but also for business reasons.
2. The Blackfeet in mid-19th century were powerful and had access to rifles from traders in Canada. They worked at suppressing access to trade among the Flatheads. The Flatheads had heard of the Jesuits whom they called Blackrobes and they wanted their power. So they sent two delegations to St. Louis to ask the Blackrobes to come. This led to Father DeSmet coming west and establishing a mission at St. Marys in the Bitterroot.
3. The discovery of gold at Alder Gulch in Montana in the 1860s triggered a burst of whites entering the state. The presence of gold camps created a market for agriculture.
4. The Treaty of 1855 at Council Grove west of Missoula established the Flathead Reservation. It was one of several Stevens treaties negotiated at about the same time in the Pacific Northwest. Governor Isaac Stevens was sent to this area to establish peace between various tribes and the increasing numbers of settlers by formalizing the territory of each tribe.
5. For decades after the 1855 treaty, the Salish continued living in the Bitterroot. James Garfield came and negotiated an agreement that the Reservation would be established in the Flathead, but Chief Charlo claimed his mark had been forged on that negotiation and he continued living in the Bitterroot with his followers, until near starvation forced him to move. His rival was Chief Arlee, who forged better relations with the U.S. Government.
6. The Dawes Act of 1887 allowed reservations to be divided into individual alotments and the surplus land to be opened to nontribal homesteaders. This took affect on the Flathead Reservation in 1910. Before that happened, the free roaming herds of cattle, bison, and horses needed to be rounded up.
Rep. Joseph Dixon (Missoula attorney and owner of the Missoulian) argued in Congress that Article 6 of the 1855 Hellgate Treaty allowed dividing the Flathead Reservation. This is the language of the treaty: “The President may from time to time, at his discretion, cause the whole or such portion of such reservation as he may thing proper to be surveyed into lots, and assign the same to such individuals or families of the said confederated tribes as are willing to avail themselves of the privilege and will locate on the same permanent home.”
Dixon had relatives and business associates on the Reservation. Hundreds of letters of support from Montana businessmen were received. Tribal leaders fought the allotment policy every way they could.
A new roll of the confederated Flatheads was completed in anticipation of Allotment. It listed 2,133 persons entitled to allotments, including 640 Pend O’reilles (242 full bloods, 387 mixed, 7 adopted Indians, and 4 adopted whites); 557 Flatheads (233 fullbloods, 305 mixed, 16 adopted Indians, and 3 adopted whites); 556 Kutenais (210 fullbloods, 342 mixed, 2 adopted Indians, and 2 adopted whites); 197 Lower Pend Oreilles (161 fullbloods, 35 mixed, and 1 adopted white); 135 Spokanes (55 fullbloods, 80 mixed); and 48 other tribes (14 fullbloods and 34 mixed). Based on the enrollment, Indians were allowed allotments of 80 acres of farmland or 160 acres of grazing land. Except for further reserves for such things as townsites, a bison range, and power installations, the remaining lands were to be sold with the money to be used for the benefit of the tribes.
D’Arcy McNickle, an enrolled Salish Kootenai on the Flathead Reservation, became one of the most prominent twentieth-century American Indian activists. He was born on January 14, 1904, to an Irish father, William McNickle, and a one-quarter Cree Métis mother, Philomene Parenteau. He grew up on the Flathead Reservation in St. Ignatius and went to mission and non-reservation boarding schools. In 1925 McNickle sold his land allotment on the Flathead Reservation so that he could raise the money necessary to study abroad at Oxford University. After returning to the United States, McNickle lived in New York City until he was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1936.
McNickle’s narrative is set in the fictionalized territory of the Little Elk Indians, presumably modelled after his own experiences on the Salish-Kootenai (Flathead) reservation in Mission Valley, Montana. As an adopted member of this tribe, with a Metis or mixed-blood Cree ancestry, McNickle moved easily between New York City and the Flathead reservation. Passing as white in New York City, McNickle provided a unique perspective on Western culture as well as a complex, or hybrid, vision of life with the Salish-Kootenai.
Set in the early 1900s, the novel represents the struggle over the construction of a dam on the Little Elk reservation as an allegorical--or dehistoricized--struggle between colonizer and colonized. Just as the names in the novel are fictionalized, so the time period is hard to determine, though certain cultural signifiers (like the emergence of the automobile) help the reader to loosely place the narrative in time. Overall, however, there is a certain timeless feel to the narrative, depicting a seemingly eternal struggle between two antagonists.
D’Arcy McNickle worked under Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier during the 1930s and 1940s. The Bureau of Indian Affairs first hired him as an administrative assistant, but by 1950 he had been appointed chief of the tribal relations branch, and he soon became an expert on Native American issues.
1. What is Bull’s reaction to hearing that a dam has been built across the river?
2. From the side of the mountain, Bull gets a view of the valley, which is now “a white man’s world.” He says it is “a world he sometimes passed through but never visited.” What is the difference between “passing through” and “visiting”?
3. Where has Antoine been and what was his experience like?
4. Understanding the ideas of sacred and profane is important to understanding this story. The place where the dam has been built is sacred to Bull’s people. This means the building of the dam was profane.
It had been a holy place, this mountain-locked meadow. “Be careful what you do here,” the boy had been told by his relatives. “This is a place of power. Be careful of what you think. Keep your thoughts good.... Don’t have angry thoughts here,” he was told....
“How can a man do this?” He raised his head and stared at the far-away ribbon of white water leaping down the high rock from its glacial bed. That had not disappeared. The water tumbled its way over stony passages to the head of the forested basin--but the basin was no more. The place where anger was to be left out of men’s thoughts was drowned (5-6).
What do you imagine the dam meant to those who built it?
5. What does Bull do when he sees the dam? What effect does this have?
6. How does his reaction affect Antoine?
7. Compare what Bull believes his grandson is thinking at the dam with what Antoine was really thinking. What does this suggest about their relationship?
8. What detail about Bull do you remember most vividly from this chapter?
1. How and where did the government men want Bull to live? Why do you think they wanted this?
2. Find at least one detail about both Basil and Louis. Explain how the men are related to Antoine, in both the white and tribal relationship.
3. Who is Two Sleeps and where did he come from?
4. Who is the man who comes into the camp at night singing? How do the other men feel toward him? Why has he come?
5. It has been 30 years since Bull and his brother have talked. Why? How has the land changed since the mens earlier years when they got along?
6. What is Henry Jims plan, and how does Bull feel about it?
1. Contrast the way Bull and Henry Jim relate to white men.
2. Who is Toby Rafferty and why has Henry Jim come to see him?
3. What are four of the things the “men from afar countries, from somewhere east of the mountains” tell the Indians to do? What effect did these things have on the Indian families?
1. How would you rate Toby Rafertys effectiveness on the Little Elk Reservation? Explain.
2. How does the Indian tradition of the “midsummer dances"affect their farming? What would you do about this dilemma if you worked for the BIA?
3. Who is Edwards and what kind of person is he?
4. What is Raferty’s opinion of the training Washington DC gives the people they send to work with the Indians?
5. Compare Rafertys description of Henry Jim with the earlier description about him from the book? What is similar? Different? What do you think accounts for the variance?
1. How are Pock Face and Theobold described? After being introduced, do you like these men or not? Explain.
2. What do Pock Face and Theobold do in this chapter, and how do they pull Bull into their actions? Do you think their actions are justifiable?
1. How is Wells involved with the medicine bundle and how does he think the Little Elk people would have acted differently if they had never lost the bundle? Do you agree with his speculation? Why or why not?
2. What involvement did Henry Jim have with the bundle 30 years ago?
3. Why wont Wells help Raferty get the bundle back? What is the right thing to do?
1. Where is Henry Jim going on Red Son at the beginning of the chapter? Why?
2. How do all Henry Jim’s kinsmen react to the message he is bringing them?
3. Why is Henry Jimand--then everyone else--singing?
4. Why wont the US Marshall let the group of Indians inside the agency?
5. Who is already inside the agency?
1. What does Two Sleeps tell the women when hes ask to decide what should be done about Pock Face and Theobold? How do the women react to his answer?
2. What happens with the whiskey? Why do you think this section is included in the book?
3. What did Bull do to fool Antoine as Antoine was trying to find him? According to Veronica, why does he do this?
4. How does Bull react when Pock Face tells him what he has done? How does this compare with what you would expect?
1. After they find the body, what is the tension between Rafferty and Grant? How are they approaching the crime differently?
2. What do we learn about the man who was killed?
3. What seems to be Sid Grants opinion of the Indian community? Find specific examples to back up your opinion.
4. What does Antoine do as he translates?
1. Who is The Boy? What do you think are the most important pieces of information we get about him in this chapter?
2. What is confusing to Rafferty about the situation with the murder and how Bull and his people are involved?
3. Who is singing in this chapter and what is the significance of that singing?
1. Where are Bull and his men kept and why is this location chosen instead of the jail?
2. What does The Boy think working for the government does to an Indian man’s relationship with his own people? Why do you think he continues his job if he believes this?
3. What problem does Bull have with the white mans law that is keeping him at the agency?
4. What does Pock Face tell his people when he decides to speak?
5. How does Pock Faces dad, Louis, react to his sons announcement?
6. How does Bull react?
1. What do Catherine and Lucille have in common?
2. What are all the women in camp doing or getting ready for?
3. What is Marie Louises predicament and how does it turn out?
4. If you were a woman in camp, whose actions would probably most closely resemble your own? Why?
1. Who arrives on the train?
2. Who is Adam Pell?
1. Where does Antoine plan to go after leaving the women at his Uncle Jerome’s camp?
2. What plan for the Indians does the Long Armed man explain to Antoine at the boarding school?
3. Describe Antoines experience at boarding school.
4. What brings Antoine back to the Little Elk Reservation?
1. What disturbs Antoine about Henry Jims place, and what does he see once he gets there that makes him feel better?
2. What is strange about Henry Jim lying on the ground? Why has Henry Jim moved out of his house? Does this make sense to you? Why or why not?
3. What did the government man tell Henry Jim that turned out not to be true?
4. How does Henry Jim seem to feel now about the decisions hes made in his life?
1. What is Edward’s evaluation of Henry Jims health?
2. What is Rafferty concerned about? What is the Boy’s advice when Rafferty questions him about how to proceed with the murder investigation?
3. What conclusion has Henry Jim come to about why his tribe just left him behind? Assuming his conclusion is correct, do you think they did the right thing?
4. How does Rafferty decide to handle the situation with Bull and the murder accusations as well the fact that Henry Jim needs his family near him as he is growing weaker?
1. What happened many years ago that first caused Bull to become angry? What changed? How?
2. What types of things were the settlers doing at first that just made the natives laugh?
3. Initially, what did natives think would eventually happen to the settlers? How did things actually progress? What does Bull think his peoples mistake was in dealing with the settlers?
4. Explain Bulls experience with the white school.
1. What is the relationship between Adam Pell and Gen (or Ms. Thomas Hendricks Cook) and how is the boy who was murdered related to them?
2. What did Adams friend Carlos do with his familys land, and how did people react?
3. What was Adam Pells promise to Carlos that caused him to miss his sister’s Christmas gathering to go to Cuno, Peru? What did living in Cuno make Adam begin to think about?
4. What decision does Thomas Cooke make after listening to Adam and how does Gen react?
1. Why is the design of the dam impressive to the engineer? He uses the word “beautiful” in his description. What adjective would you use?
2. How did the US Marshal and his men find the gun? What two questions are still left unanswered even after the gun is discovered?
1. What is the first thing Bull says to the group when he arrives at the agency? How is this received?
2. How are the settler’s laws and native ways of handling crimes different? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each system?
3. Why is Bull afraid of Sid Grant?
4. What are the contents of the two packages from Bulls camp?
5. What two reasons does the Marshall give for his belief that Bull is not the murderer?
6. Who interrupts the meeting at the agency, and what is his message?
7. What stops Bull from rising to confront Adam Pell when he realizes he was the one responsible for the dam?
8. How does Thomas Cooke react to Pock Face’s declaration, and what does he recommend?
9. What realization has shocked Adam Pell? In what way, besides the trouble over the dam, is Adam Pell involved in the trouble on the Little Elk Reservation? After the discussion, what does he want to do and why?
1. What story did Rafferty and Doc Edwards make up to explain to the government men at Henry Jim’s funeral who asked why his body was taken from a teepee and not his “elegant house,” and why they were taking his horse along to the burial?
2. What did Henry Jims burial service entail?
3. How long was Rafferty on the Little Elk Reservation before any natives actually started taking to him? Does this seem a long or short amount of time? Explain.
4. What does Henry Two Bits come to ask Rafferty? What does he have that surprises Rafferty?
5. How have things changed between The Boy and the rest of the Little Elk people?
6. What does Bull ask The Boy to do for him?
1. How does it seem things are going to turn out for Pock Face? What leads you to this conclusion?
2. What behavior of Bulls, in his younger days when he was still drinking, sometimes scared others? What ended Bulls drinking days?
1. What does Adam Pell realize American laws made legal that he feels is wrong (though none of his important friends seem to agree)? What did the law allow that Rafferty considered “thievery”? How does he think the white men who came to the reservation were also “exhorted”?
2. What two things resulted from the dam?
3. How does Adam react to the judges claim that these exploits against the Indians were “hasty and not well considered”?
1. What happens to Two Sleeps?
1. The Little Elk people always get together for storytelling and remembering in the winter, but there are some things different this winter from the last. What are they?
2. Describe the circumstances that led to Antoine going to a boarding school.
3. Describe how Celeste, Antoine, Veronica and Bull are related and how their relationships have changed over the years.
4. Why does Bull want to tell old stories “those his father knew” instead of telling stories from his own life? Do you think anything similar happens in today’s society?
5. Who is Featherboy really? What does he bring the Little Elk people and why is the bundle important, or why do the people need to protect it?
1. Why does Adam Pell want to bring the Little Elk people a gift? What does he plan to give them? Where did this come from and why does he think it is a good gift? Do you think his gesture is appropriate? Explain.
1. What messages does The Boy bring to Bulls camp?
2. How does Louis feel about the current situation they are all in? What does he think they should do? What is Bulls reply?
1. How has the Little Elk Valley changed over the last few years? Which changes are positive? Which are negative?
2. What does Pock Face think they should do about the requests they receive? What does Louis think? What does he want to do?
1. What problem does Adam Rafferty think would arise if all 2,000 Indians actually decided they wanted to farm, as the government wants them to?
2. How does Adam Pell feel about the governments Indian policy now he is aware of it?
3. What do Doc Edwards and Rafferty want Pell to do instead of telling Bull what actually happened to the bundle? Why? Do you think their plan is wise? Explain.
4. Why does Adam think his object is a good substitute for the bundle?
1. Where are Bull and his group going, and what makes Bull suspicious?
1. Where is Veronica going?
2. What do Veronica and Two Sleeps end up doing?
3. What does Veronica see that Two Sleeps seems to miss?
4. What does Two Sleeps see and understand?
1. What does Rafferty think of The Boy? Of Bull?
2. What does Rafferty confront Adam about, then then warn him about again a few pages later?
3. What chance does Rafferty think theyve missed by telling the Little Elk people their sacred object is gone?
4. Why has Adam Pell brought Mr. Davis?
5. What does Adam Pell tell Bull and his men? How do Bull’s men react?
6. What does Louis do that effectively ends the meeting?
7. Whose acts would you say are noble in the end? How do you decide?
8. What do you think of the ending of the book? Is it strong or weak? Interesting? Regardless of whether your like or dislike it, does it seem appropriate? Why or why not?
9. Go back to the first sentence of the book: “The Indian named Bull and his grandson took a walk into the mountains to look at a dam built in a cleft of rock, and what began as a walk became a journey into the world."After finishing, what do you think this means?
10. What parts of the book seems to reflect historical events?
A selection of contemporary and classic poems
Poetry Out Loud
2 The power of poetry
By Dana Gioia
3 Jenny Kiss'd Me
Read by Kay Ryan
4 "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"
by William Butler Yeats
Read by Anthony Hopkins
5 "We Wear the Mask
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Read by Rita Dove
6 "Fire and Ice"
by Robert Frost
Read by N. Scott Momaday
7 "The Good-Morrow"
by John Donne
Read by David Mason
by Lewis Carroll
Read by David Schwimmer
9 "anyone lived in a pretty how town"
by E. E. Cummings
Read by David Mason
10 "Pied Beauty"
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Read by Kay Ryan
11 Conveying emotion, with excerpts from Hamlet
12 "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night"
by Dylan Thomas
Read by Alfred Molina
13 "The World Is Too Much with Us"
by William Wordsworth
Read by Angela Lansbury
14 "Fern Hill"
by Dylan Thomas
Read by Anthony Hopkins
15 Punching words
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Read by N. Scott Momaday
17 Kay Ryan remembers her grandmother
19 N. Scott Momaday remembers his parents
20 David Mason on knowing poems by heart
21 "Hope is the thing with feathers"
by Emily Dickinson
Read by David Henry Hwang
22 "When You Are Old"
by William Butler Yeats
Read by Diane Thiel
23 "The Road Not Taken"
by Robert Frost
Read by Dana Gioia
24 Sonnet 55
by William Shakespeare
Read by James Earl Jones
25 "When I Have Fears"
by John Keats
Read by Rita Dove
26 "To My Dear and Loving Husband"
by Anne Bradstreet
Read by Alyssa Milano
27 "I think I should have loved you presently"
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Read by Alyssa Milano
28 "Dream Deferred (Harlem)"
by Langston Hughes
Read by Khandi Alexander
29 "I Hear America Singing"
by Walt Whitman
Read by Richard Rodriguez
30 From "Annabel Lee"
by Edgar Allan Poe
Read by Khandi Alexander
31 "The Unknown Citizen"
by W. H. Auden
Read by Alfred Molina
32 "Miniver Cheevy"
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Read by David Mason
33 "My Last Duchess"
by Robert Browning
Read by Alfred Molina
34 "Dover Beach"
by Matthew Arnold
Read by Angela Lansbury
35 "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"
by Wallace Stevens
Read by N. Scott Momaday
36 "I heard a Fly buzz--when I died"
by Emily Dickinson
Read by Kay Ryan
37 "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
by T. S. Eliot
Read by Anthony Hopkins
|A Ritual to Read to Each Other -Willliam Stafford
Abou Ben Adhem -Leigh Hunt
Anne Gregory-WB Yeats.pdf
As I Walked Out One Evening -W.H. Auden
Bike Ride with Older Boys -Laura Kasischke
Blue Girls -John Crowe Ransom
Cartoon Physics -Nick Flynn
Did I Miss Anything -Tom Wayman
Dogs death -John Updike
Entrance -Dana Gioia
Epitaph on a Tyrant -WH Auden
Ethics -Linda Pastan
February 2 1968 -Wendell Berry
Fueled -Marcie Hans
George Gray -Edgar Lee Masters
Ginsberg -Julia Vinograd
Harlem Night Song -Langston Hughes
Hate Poem -Julie Sheehan
Hay for the Horses -Gary Snyder
Hotel Nights with My Mother -Linda McCarriston
How to Change a Frog Into a Prince -Anna Denise
Incident -Countee Cullen
Journey -Mary Oliver
Knowledge -Philip Memmer
Law like Love -WH Auden
Lift Your Right Arm -Peter Cherches
Lit Instructor -William Stafford
Litany -Billy Collins
Love Poem with Toast -Miller Williams
Manifesto -Wendell Berry
Mirror -Sylvia Plath
My Papas Waltz -Theodore Roethke
Ode to My Hips -Lucille Clifton
Otherwise -Jane Kenyon
Outside -Gary Soto
Primer of the Daily Round -Howard Nemerov
Report to Crazy Horse -William Stafford
since feeling is first -ee cummings
Siren Song -Margaret Atwood
Sonnet -Billy Collins
The Bagel -David Ignatow
The Grammar Lesson -Steve Kowit
The Hand-Mary Ruefle
The Second Coming -WB Yeats
The Summer Day -Mary Oliver
The Unknown Citizen -WH Auden
The Writer -Richard Wilbur
To Be of Use -Marge Piercy
Tuesday 9am -Denver Butson
Exploring the Puritan Mind
Write a 1000-word paper, with citations from at least 3 texts (including the video Desperate Crossing), in which you explore some aspect of the Puritan mind. You can focus on their response to adversity, their attitude toward education, their work ethic, their communal (rather than individual) orientation.
Along the way, include explanations of at least three of the terms from the Puritan Concepts handout.
Introduction to Puritanism
Set of reading by various Puritans (49-page PDF)
Excerpt from William Bradford’s “History of Plymouth Plantation”
Winthrop “A Model of Christian Charity”
Anne Bradstreet Poems
Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of the Captivity of Mary Rowlandson”
“A Model of Christian Charity” slides
“Narrative of the Captivity” slides
Desperate Crossing Study Guide
Objectives: Know these words:
Be able to answer these questions:
1. What was the core philosophy of the Separatists? Why were they so frustrated with the Church of England?
2. Why was King James I so opposed to the Separatists’ philosophy and practices? What was his philosophy of obedience?
3. Why do you think Bradford and his followers moved to Holland? What explanation is given for the tolerance of many religious views in Holland?
4. Why were Bradford and his followers unable to make their community work in Holland? How did they convince investors that they could be prosperous in
the New World?
5. What were three unexpected events that occurred in this documentary? How do you think the story of the Mayflower could have been different?
6. What was the Mayflower Compact and why was it important?
7. Before the arrival of the Mayflower, over 50 million Native Americans inhabited North America. What did the British think or know about these groups before
8. Describe the early encounters between the British and the Native Americans. How did they communicate with one another?
9. Do you think the Native Americans stood to benefit anything from cooperating with the British and vice versa? What obstacles prevented them from living peacefully?
10. At what point do you think the foundation of Plymouth was most imperiled? At what point do you think it was clear that Plymouth would survive?
11. How did this documentary change your view of the Mayflower and its journey?
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Before 1800 •
Companion Poems: Isolation, Loneliness
PDF set of all 5 poems
“Out, out” Robert Frost
“The Man He Killed” Thomas Hardy
“Musee des Beaux Arts” W.H. Auden
“Pathedy of Manners” Ellen Kay
“No Man is an Island” John Donne
Companion Poems: Snow, Free Will, Chance
PDF set of all 4 poems
Companion Poems: Love/Hate
“Desert Places” Robert Frost
“Design” Robert Frost
“The Snow Man” Wallace Stevens
“Dover Beach” Matthew Arnold
The hero is not a warrior but a scholar. He defeats evil by bringing home the truth, which he reconstructs through research in an archives.
Guterson uses a variety of literary techniques: analogy, characterization, flashbacks, diction. . .
Podcast of Guterson discussing the book.
The setting is more than a simple background to the actions of characters. Place shapes the character’s in profound ways, and the weather plays a major role in the unfolding of the plot. Also, particular places take on symbolic power: the hollow cedar tree, the strawberry fields, the sea, the courtroom.
* Ishmael Chambers, editor town paper
* Kabuo Miyamoto, Japanese-American war internee, the accused, Fisherman
* Hatsue Miyamoto, Kabuo’s wife
* Carl Heine Junior, fisherman and murder victim
* Art Moran, town sheriff
* Alvin Hooks, prosecutor
* Nels Gudmundsson, defense lawyer
* Horace Whaley, the town coroner
* Carl Heine Senior, Carl’s father
* Etta Heine, Carl’s mother and wife of Carl Heine Senior
* Ole Jurgensen, elderly strawberry farmer
* Zenhichi Miyamoto, Kabuo’s father and Strawberry farmer
1. Kabuo’s trial provides a framework for the plot of the novel and becomes an extended metaphor for issues of justice and injustice. Which are the most important judicial issues raised in the text? In Snow Falling on Cedars, is justice served both legally and morally?
2. Discuss the symbolism of snow, particularly during the trial, as well as the role of other types of weather experienced throughout Snow Falling on Cedars. How does Guterson use this weather motif to characterize various but interrelated themes found in the text?
3. Snow Falling on Cedars is often characterized as “a novel of place.” What are the significant places in the text? What occurs in each? Compare and contrast the mood and tension found in the various settings and the role each provides in both character and plot development.
4. How does the novel’s title characterize and symbolize the major themes of Guterson’s text?
5. Guterson told People magazine that, as a writer, “I want to explore philosophical concerns.” What are the major philosophical concerns in Snow Falling on Cedars? Guterson differentiates between “asking questions” and “providing answers.” What questions does he raise in the novel, and why doesn’t he answer the questions he asks?
6. Racism is a central theme of the book. Which characters are most guilty of racist actions? Racist thoughts? Is there a difference? Are the Nisei, American children with Japanese parents, guilty of any form of racism? Are their parents?
7. Is Snow Falling on Cedars primarily a novel about a lost life, lost land, or a lost love? How are the threads of these diverse story lines woven together to provide the truth at Kabuo’s trial?
8. Compare and contrast Guterson’s description of the Japanese internment with that presented in Farewell to Manzanar, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston. Focus on the perceptions that the different generations of Japanese-Americans had of the American government. How has this experience subsequently shaped their lives?
9. Snow Falling on Cedars is considered literary fiction. What distinguishes literary fiction from popular fiction? Which elements of literary fiction are best illustrated in the novel? What other contemporary novels are classified as literary fiction?
10. Guterson has admitted the influence that Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, his favorite book, has had on his life and his writing. What are the strongest similarities between Snow Falling on Cedars and To Kill a Mockingbird, and how does Guterson use Lee’s text as a springboard for his own storytelling?
11. Although Snow Falling on Cedars is set in 1954, some of the thematic issues play an important role in society today. Do the issues raised in the novel transcend time and place and therefore affect the present, or is the novel depicting a part of history that has no direct bearing on contemporary society?
12. What is the significance of Ishmael’s name? As a character, how is he related to the narrator of Moby Dick and Old Testament the brother to Isaac, son of Abraham?
13. Snow Falling on Cedars appears to focus primarily on male characters Kabuo, Ishmael, Carl but two women play pivotal roles. Determine the significance Hatsue and Etta have in the events that transpire, particularly how the novel’s past pertains to its present time. How do Hatsue and Etta reflect the role that women have in their respective societies?
14. What is revealed and/or explained in the last line of Snow Falling on Cedars: “Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart,” and why is it significant that Ishmael had this understanding?
15. Guterson tells several stories in one in Snow Falling on Cedars: Hatsue and Ishmael’s romance; Kabuo’s trial; the effect of World War II on the men who served; the treatment of the Japanese on San Piedro, particularly during World War II; Hatsue’s coming to terms with her ethnicity; and the land struggle between the Heines and the Miyamotos. Choose one of these story lines and answer the following questions. If Guterson had told only this story, how would the novel have been different? How would it be the same? Could Guterson tell only one story without bringing in the others? Would the ending be different? Would you perceive any of the characters differently?
16. If you were a member of the jury, would you have voted Kabuo guilty or not guilty? Why or why not? Remember that as a jury member you have no knowledge of the lighthouse records or of any conversations outside the courtroom. Concentrating only on the testimony and the questioning, assign and defend your verdict.
17. Kabuo, a Japanese-American, fought Germans during the war; Carl, a German, fought the Japanese during the war. Why did Guterson choose to have these characters fight against the opposite racial group? If Kabuo and Carl had fought against men who shared their own ethnic backgrounds, how might their relationship have been different? Would Kabuo’s guilt be greater if he’d killed other Japanese?
18. Guterson makes no mention of the atomic bombing of Japan in Snow Falling on Cedars, yet in 1954 all the characters would be painfully aware of the way the war ended. Why does Guterson omit that aspect of World War II? How would the story be different if he had included the bombing? How would the characters, especially the island’s Japanese and people like Etta Heine, be different?
19. Compare Nels Gudmundsson with Ishmael Chambers. How are the men alike? How are they different? Although they both reluctantly help Kabuo, are their motivations ultimately the same? Would either man feel differently if Kabuo were a White man? What if Kabuo was White and Carl Japanese? Would Nels act differently if Kabuo hired him? Would Ishmael react differently if Kabuo wasn’t Hatsue’s husband? As Nels and Ishmael ultimately come to grips with the reality of their lives, how are their responses and choices similar or different?
A Tale of Two Cities Here's a study guide (warning: it's a 32-page PDF)
Causes of the French Revolution
The Three Estates
Letters de Cachet
The Citizeness Knitters
Key Historic Events Highlighted in the Novel
Themes of Resurrection and Redemption
Literary Conventions and Plot Devices
The causes of the French Revolution were more complex than the oversimplified
cruelty of the aristocracy. Poor economic policies, war, and the impossibility
of social mobility all contributed to the overthrow of the royal family and the
establishment of the First Republic.
Resentment toward absolute monarchy:
Other nations (especially England) had already begun to limit the power of the monarchy and establish parliamentary bodies that, to varying degrees, represented the common peoples interests and rights. A rising middle class (bourgeoisie) found itself gaining economic power, but was heavily taxed and denied political power.
Resentment toward seigneurialism by peasants, wage-earners, and the bourgeoisie:Just as other nations were beginning to change the structure of their governments, so, too, were they shedding the remnants of feudal economic and political control. In France, however, the rural countryside was still divided into manors or seigneurs in which serfs who lived on the land owed full allegiance and obedience to the lord of the manor who owned the land. As the economy shifted from a rural, agrarian economy to an urban commercial and pre-industrial economy, those whose incomes did not depend on the land resented the fact that they remained bound to the land as serfs.
The rise of Enlightenment ideals: Europe had already produced a generation of writers and philosophers who asserted the equality of humankind and the existence of certain basic rights belonging to all humans, regardless of birth, race, or class. In France, writers like Voltaire, Denis Diderot, de Montesquieu, de Condorcet, and Jean Jacques Rousseau challenged the economic, political, and social status quo.
Tremendous national debt, and a grossly inequitable system of taxation: Frances involvement in the Seven Years War (a multi-nation European war that included the last of the American French and Indian Wars) caused King Louis XVI to inherit tremendous debt from his grandfather (Louis XV). While early in his reign, Louis XVI was eager to reform Frances economy and tax system, he met with very strong resistance from his advisors (members of the untaxed First and Second Estatessee below) and from his wife Marie Antoinette. Thus, Frances mounting debt, a succession of years with poor crops, and the fact that only the poorest people in the nation could legally be taxed led to a desperate economy.
A failing economy, partly due to Frances involvement and aid in the American Revolution: Because France had fought against England in the Seven Years War and had been Englands largest rival in the colonization of America, she supported the colonies in the Revolutionary War with both financial and military assistance. This served only to increase Frances national debt, along with no reform of the tax structure.
Food scarcity in the months immediately before the Revolution: A harsh winter in 1787, heavy rains in the spring, and then a severe drought in the summer of 1788 led to a poor harvest. Of course, the first two estates claimed the first fruits of the harvest. Grain was in short supplyleading to a shortage of bread. When confronted with the hunger of the peasantry, government minister Joseph-François Foulon insisted that, since grass was good enough for his cattle, the peasants could also eat grass. This same famine was the occasion for Marie Antoinettes infamous quip, let them eat cake.
Resentment at noble privilege and dominance in public life by the ambitious professional classes: There was a growing bourgeoisie that recognized its importance to Frances economy and were often courted by impoverished aristocrats (think of how Darnays inherited estate is described as debt-ridden), but who themselves enjoyed no political privilege, or even protection, from abuses of the Second Estates noble privilege. Think of how Doctor Manettea professional member of the bourgeoisiewas subject to imprisonment at the whim of the Evremonde brothers.
Influence of the American Revolution: In 1776, the English colonies in America had rebelled against their parent country, had succeeded, and had founded a democratic republic based upon Enlightenment principles. France had assisted the colonies in their revolution; and now the bourgeoisie and intellectuals were poised to follow in the United States footsteps and replace their government with one that would protect their inalienable rights.
There were two parties involved in the French Revolution. The Girondins were the moderate republicans and controlled the Legislative Assembly from late 1791 to late 1792. They were ultimately ousted by the radical Jacobins, led by the infamous Maximilien Robespierre. The Jacobins were the party responsible for the Reign of Terror. Clearly, the Defarges are members of this radical party, and it is a Jacobin newspaper that Carton reads when he visits the Defarges wine shop the night before Darnays scheduled execution. Many historians consider this French Revolution to be a failed revolution because it resulted in the restoration to the throne of the same royal family that had been in power before the formation of the First Republic. Others see the French Revolution as the prototype of all later revolutions, especially the Russian Revolution in the early twentieth century.
A remnant of medieval feudalism, the three estates were:
the clergy, "those who prayed," or "those who ministered with the word of God;
the aristocracy, originally knights, "those who ministered with the sword;" and
everyone else. In the Middle Ages, this body would consist mostly of rural peasants, serfs, who were tied to the land and essentially owned by the landowner. With the rise of the bourgeoisie, the middle class, however, the first two estates treatment of the third estate became increasingly intolerable. In meetings of Estates General, each estate voted as a body. Thus, if the First and Second Estates banded together, they controlled two thirds of the vote, even though they represented less than two-thirds of the populace. This is how the upper estates eventually exempted themselves from taxation, placing the full burden of national finance on the impoverished Third Estate.
Lettres de cachet may be defined as letters signed by the King of France, countersigned by one of his ministers, and closed with the royal seal (cachet).
The most famous lettres de cachet were punitive in nature, by which the King sentenced a subject to prison without trial and without an opportunity to hear the charges filed against him or the chance to defend himself.
Obviously, the lettres de cachet had many potential abuses. They could be used by the police to arrest and imprison "undesirables." Heads of families could use them to lock away sons whose behavior was questionable, thus "protecting" the family "honor." Wives could have husbands imprisoned, and husbands could have their wives put away. The fact is that the Secretary of State issued them at will, and in most cases, the king was completely unaware of their issue. In the 18th century, the letters were often issued without the name of the targeted person. The name was filled in when the poor subject was arrested.
The citoyennes tricoteuses, citizeness knitters, are famous in French Revolution lore. There are dozens of historical and psychological interpretations of their acts of unemotional knitting at the foot of the guillotine. Dickens clearly wants to portray them as heartless, like their leader, Madame Defarge.
Book I, Chapter 1:
In 1766, the Chevalier de la Barre was accused of acting disrespectfully to a religious procession. De la Barre had not removed his hat when he passed within 30 yards of a procession bearing a crucifix. He was condemned to have his tongue cut out, his right hand cut off, and afterwards to be burned alive. His sentence was later "softened" to decapitation prior to burning.
Book I, Chapter 4:
In pre-Revolutionary France, the lettres de cachet, authorized a persons arrest and imprisonmentwithout benefit of trial or appealat the pleasure of the monarch. These lettres de cachet were sometimes sold, with blanks to be fi lled in by the purchaser. Thus the monarch had no knowledge of who was being imprisoned under his seal, and anyone with enough money to buy a lettre could imprison anyone he wanted for any reason.
Book II, Chapter 15:
In addition to being a leader of the Revolution in her own right, Madame Defarge is one of the famous citoyennes tricoteuses (knitting citizens) of revolutionary Paris, who would, during the Reign of Terror, take their knitting with them to watch the executions at the guillotine.
Book II, Chapter 21:
The former fortress and prison known as the Bastille was stormed by the peasants of Paris on July 14, 1789. The storming of the Bastille marked the beginning of the French Revolution. This day is still celebrated as Bastille Day.
The practice of hanging offenders from street lamps in Paris came to represent the revenge of the citizens of the Republic against the abuses of the fallen monarchy and aristocracy. When the Bastille was taken on July 14, 1789, there were only seven prisoners in it.
Book II, Chapter 22:
The red cap worn by Defarge and his associates is called a "Phrygian cap" and was worn by French patriots during the Revolution. The Phrygians were an ancient Asian people, living in what is now Turkey; their cone-shaped caps became "caps of liberty" when the style was adopted by freed Roman slaves to symbolize their freedom. These red caps were worn especially by the vengeful and violent Jacobin party which was responsible for the Reign of Terror. Joseph-François Foulon was a government minister under Louis XVI. On July 22, 1789, it was discovered that Foulon, who had pretended to be dead and staged his own funeral to escape the growing wrath of the French peasantry, was betrayed by a household servant and seized by the mob, "tried," and killedwith grass in his mouth, as it was believed that he had once said the hungry peasants should eat grass since it was good enough for his cattle. Book II, Chapter 24: On August 10, 1792, the royal family were besieged in the Palais des Tuileries, where they had been confined after trying to escape Paris in June. On August 13, 1792, they were taken to the Temple Prison. Royalty in France was abolished, and the King suspended from office. Book III, Chapter 1: The "dawning Republic One and Indivisible" is the official establishment of the French Republic on September 22, 1792. It is this Republic that officially replaced the monarchy in France, which had been abolished on September 21, 1792.
After the Kings power of veto was suspended in early August 1792, laws were passed allowing the State to confiscate the property of emigrants.
When King Louis XVI was imprisoned in the Temple on August 13, 1792, foreign ambassadors in France did begin to leave Parisindicating the refusals of the other European nations to formally and offi cially recognize the new government in France. Following the execution of Louis XVI early in the following year, England expelled the French ambassador and officially became an "Enemy of the Republic."Book III, Chapter 4: The bloodshed that Doctor Manette witnesses during the four days he is gone is the "September massacre" or "September massacres" of September 2-6, 1792. Parisian mobs stormed the Prisons of the Abbaye, La Force, Châtalet, and the Conciergerie, killing over 1,000 prisoners, most of whom had been arrested as royalist sympathizers, aristocrats, or emigrants, etc.
Following the establishment of the First Republic, the French developed a new calendar to reflect the "dawning of the New Era." Although it was not put into effect until 1793, this Calendar was backdated to the establishment of the Republic in 1792 and remained in use in France until January 1, 1806. The use of the guillotine on necklaces instead of the cross represented the secularization of France under the Republic. Before the Revolution, France had been a Catholic country, but abuses of the Church and clergywho tended to live like aristocracy and sympathize with the monarchywere among the grievances of the revolting peasants. The Republic officially recognized "no Religion but Liberty."
The "Twenty-two friends of high public mark" are the members of the moderate Girondin party, defeated by the Jacobin faction (of Danton, Robespierre, etc.) and guillotined on October 31, 1793.Book III, Chapter 5: On November 10, 1793, a vast number of Catholic priests and other Catholic clergy renounced the Church and embraced the "Religion of Liberty." This led to widespread celebration throughout France that lasted through the rest of November and into December. Citizens desecrated churches and crowded the streets, singing and dancing the Carmagnole.
The Carmagnole was a patriotic dance popular among the French revolutionists of 1793.Book III, Chapter 12 The Jacobins were members of the revolutionary faction that defeated and guillotined the more moderate Girondin party. They took control of the Republic in 1793 and ushered in the Reign of Terror. Marat, Danton and Robespierre are among the most famous Jacobins. Book III, Chapter 15 Madame Roland, a prominent member of the Girondin party, asked for pen and paper as she approached the guillotine so that she could record the "strange thoughts that were rising" in her. Her request was initially denied, but she persisted, appealed to the Revolutions claims to be establishing liberty, and was given her writing utensils.
The guillotine did, as Carlyle wrote, devour its own children. Not only were the royalty, nobles, and other alleged traitors to the Republic killed, but, eventually, the Girondin faction succumbed to the Jacobins. Then, when Georges Jacques Danton suggested that the fury of the guillotine be moderated, he fell to the accusations of his own party. Eventually Maximilien Robespierre himself , the architect of the Reign of Terror, was brought down and guillotined on July 28, 1794. His death put an end to the Reign of Terror.
The two main themes of A Tale of Two Cities are the possibility of creating a new life from seemingly hopeless circumstances (resurrection) and the possibility of redemption and renewal.
The theme of resurrection is first introduced in the title of Book One, "Recalled to Life," and begins to develop with Mr. Lorrys imagined conversation with the man who has been buried eighteen years. The man is, of course Doctor Manette, who is indeed resurrected from the metaphoric grave of a cell in the Bastille.
The theme is developed further in Book Two when Charles Darnay is released from this charge of treasona charge that would result in his death if he were convicted. Jerry Cruncher himself says he would understand the message "recalled to life" if it applied to Darnay.
We are also introduced to Jerrys "honest trade" as a resurrectionista person who takes fresh corpses from their new graves and sells them to medical students and researchers. This theme of resurrection is finally brought to completion with Darnays condemnation in France, his certain death, and his rescue by Sydney Carton, who dies in his stead. The night before his death, Carton recites to himself the opening of the Church of Englands funeral ritual, "I am the resurrection and the life " And Carton is indeed Darnays resurrection.
The theme of redemption is somewhat less developed, but is nonetheless important to the novel. Dr. Manettes lost time in the Bastille is at least partially redeemed by his ability to assist Charles, and to keep him safe during his years imprisonment, ultimately effecting his first release.
Darnay is arrested in England on charges of treason while attempting to fi nd the family so terribly wronged by his father and his uncle and thus redeem his familys name and honor.
Jerrys participation in an illegaland possibly immoraltrade is redeemed by his ability to use information he gained robbing an empty grave to "convince" Barsad to cooperate with Carton.
Mr. Lorrys lonely life as a "man of business" is redeemed by his close friendship with the Manettes and Darnays.
Cartons wasted life is redeemed by his sacrifice. He is remembered and loved for generations and at least two generations of successful, productive men bear his name. Finally, France herself, as we are told during Cartons prophetic vision at the end of the book, is redeemed, and a beautiful republic finally established.
As in all of his novels, Charles Dickens employs certain conventions and devices that were popular with his Victorian audience.
Stock or Conventional Characters:
Miss Pross-type:The blindly devoted nurse or governess, who has no life beyond the care of her charge and loves her charge, blindly, passionately, and possessively. Often, after the charges marriage, the governess meets a man and marries toward the end of the novel. Dickens readers may well have expected to see Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry marry at some point. Mr. Lorry-type: The "confirmed bachelor," the "man of business." As with the governess, Victorian novelists often had their confirmed bachelors fall in love and marry at the end of the story. Dickens challenges this convention, while also showing Mr. Lorrys emotional side, even from his first meeting with Lucie. Jerry Cruncher-type: The hardworking, marginally honest (but loveable) representative of the lower class; uneducated, but wise; often harsh on the exterior but with a good heart; unwaveringly loyal. This is the character who helps the author supply comic relief through dialect or the expression of homespun reason. Lucie-type: Surprisingly, Lucie is not a fully developed, well-rounded character. She is the conventional daughterobedient, loving, dutiful. Notice how it takes her no time at all to know and love her father and become his faithful servant. She is essentially weak (frequent crying and fainting spells) and always dependent on someone else. Plot Devices:
The hidden and discovered letter:Often this is a diary (and sometimes a missing will or deed), but this was a popular device for discovering the past or hearing a characters innermost thoughts. Identical twins switching identities: This plot deviceoften a comic devicedates back at least to Roman comedy playwright Plautus. Renaissance playwrights Shakespeare and Marlowe used this device in a number of their plays. It is the basis of Mark Twains The Prince and the Pauper. Even today, the identical twins switched at birth, separated at birth, or the identical strangers who meet one another is a popular fi lm and television convention. Literary Coincidence: All literary plots are essentially contrived because they must work out the way the author intends them, and coincidence is an important force in many plots (think of the timing of Macbeths meeting the witches right after a successful battle or the fact that the separated twin sisters in Disneys The Parent Trap just happen to be attending the same came at the same time). However, a Victorian audience demanded that all loose ends be connected at the end of the story. They particularly enjoyed revelations like the fact that:
John Barsad is actually Miss Pross brother Solomon;
Madame Defarge just happens to be the remaining sister of the injured family;
Madame Defarge just happens to have married the former servant of the doctor
summoned to help the sister and brother (remember, we are told that Defarge did not know his wifes identity until the storming of the Bastille and his fi nding of the Doctors letter);
the Doctor and Lucie meet the nephew (and son) of the Doctors tormentors on his journey to escape their torment;
his daughter would actually marry into the family he has so vehemently denounced.Scenes of comic relief: Largely a dramatic device, but also popular in novels, these scenes either follow or precede scenes of intense action or emotion. For example, the scene in Jerry Crunchers house follows the Doctors mysterious discovery and escape from France and precedes Charles Darnays trial for treason. The scene in which Miss Pross complains to Mr. Lorry about the "hundreds of people" who invade their quiet home foreshadows the hoards of people who will threaten the familys peace and happiness. And the scene in which Miss Pross and Jerry are discussing leaving France follows the tension of Darnays trial and Cartons plans to save him, and precedes Miss Pross and Madame Defarges fight.
Chap 1-3 (p. 3-25)
Chap 4-5 (p. 26-45)
Chap 6-8 (p. 46-74)
Chap 9-10 (p. 75-94)
Chap 11-12 (p. 95-119)
Chap 13-15 (p. 120-142)
Chap 16-19 (p. 143-167)
Chap 20-22 (p. 171-191)
Chap 23-25 (p. 192-209)
1. Reread the first sentence of the novel. What purposes does this sentence serve?
2. Explain the rhetorical strategies used in the first two paragraphs.
3. Explain the use of figurative devices in the following line: Amalinze was a wily craftsman, but Okonkwo was as slippery as a fish in water.
4. Explain the imagery in the following line: That was many years ago, twenty years or more, and during this time Okonkwos fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan.
5.What is the rhetorical effect used in the following line: The drums beat and the flutes sang and the spectators held their breath. What effect does it create?
6. Describe Okonkwo. Why does Achebe use animal imagery to describe him?
7. Describe Unoka. How does Okonkwo feel about his father?
8. Why does Achebe spend so much of the first part of the chapter describing Unoka?
9. How does Okonkwos impression of his father shape Okonkwos character? How does he act as a result of his fathers reputation?
10. Explain the importance of the following line: Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.
11. What does the reader learn about how Okonkwo feels about his father?
12. How does the text refer to Ikemefuna?
13. What do these references indicate about Ikemefuna?
14. Explain the purpose(s) of the first chapter?
1. How do the villages communicate with each other?
2. What are the italicized words included in the text? What is the purpose of including these words in the narrative?
3. What does Okonkwo realize after the town crier comes through town?
4. How do the people feel about night? How do they eliminate or deal with fear?
5. Explain the meaning of the following saying: When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.
6. How does Okonkwo feel about war? Why do you think he feels this way?
7. Explain the purpose of the following line as it relates to characterization: On great occasions such as the funeral of a village celebrity he drank his palm-wine from his first human head. Why would Achebe mention such an act in this novel?
8. Describe the nature of the conflict between the villages, Mbaino and Umuofia.
9. How do other tribes feel about Umuofia?
10. How does Umuofia choose to settle the dispute? Why do they make this decision? Provide textual evidence to support your answer.
11. What does the discussion indicate about the nature of medicine and religion in the Ibo tribe?
12. Why is Okonkwo chosen to visit Mbaino?
13. Why does the reader suspect that something is going to happen with Ikemefuna and Okonkwo?
14. Describe the family structure of Okonkwos tribe.
15. How would Okonkwos rule of his household be interpreted in Western culture?
16. Why does Okonkwo treat his family the way he does? How does Achebe want the reader to feel about Okonkwo?
17. What rhetorical techniques does Achebe use in the following line: It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw? What effect is being achieved?
18. Achebe informs the reader that there is a word that means both woman and a man who had taken no title. Why does he share this information with the reader?
19. Who is Nwoye? How does Okonkwo feel about him?
20. Is Okonkwos description of Nwoye accurate? How do we know?
21. Reread the exchange between Okonkwo and his most senior wife. How does Okonkwo treat her? What does it demonstrate about the role of gender within the Ibo community?
22. Describe the compound where Okonkwo and his family live. What does this tell the reader about Okonkwo?
1. What effect does Achebe achieve with his repetition of the phrase they came in the second paragraph?
2. Why must people crawl when visiting Agbala?
3. Why might it be unusual that a woman is the one who serves and can see Agbala?
4. When Okonkwos father visits the oracle, what does he learn?
5. What is a chi? How is it important in the story?
6. Why is Unoka left to die in the Evil Forest?
7. Reread the first part of this chapter and the last paragraph before the break. Why does Achebe begin and end this section with the same information? What is he repeating?
8. Who is Nwakibie? How does the reader know that he is successful?
9. What does Nwakibie mean when he says, You will have what is good for you and I will have what is good for me. Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too. If one says no to the other, let his wing break?
10. What is the meaning of the following: Ӆan old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb? How does this relate to Okonkwo?
11. Why does Nwakibie agree to let Okonkwo use his yams for share-cropping?
12. Why does Okonkwo resent having to take care of his mother and sisters?
13. Explain the sarcasm in the paragraph about the unearned success of the farmers who delayed planting their yams.
14. Analyze the several literary techniques used in this chapter.
1. How was Okonkwo able to achieve such a high rank within the tribe when his father died a penniless man? How is this different from colonial-era European culture?
2. What suggestion is there that Okonkwo will evolve into a tragic hero?
3. Why is the old mans rebuke significant?
4. The text mentions the chi again as it relates to Okonkwos success. How strong a determiner is the chi assumed to be?
5. Why does the text return to the story of Ikemefuna after spending time discussing the traditions with the harvest?
6. Describe Ikemefuna. How does he fit into the family structure?
7. What is significant about Okwonkos breaking the peace during the Week of Peace? What does this action indicate about Okonkwo?
8. In this chapter, what does the reader learn about the customs of the Ibo and the customs of other neighboring clans? How might this be important in the story?
9. How does Okonkwo respond to his son? What verb does Achebe use to suggest that Okonkwos perception of his son is not necessarily accurate?
10. Why does Achebe end this chapter by relating the nature of the relationship between Ikemefuna and Nwoye?
1. Achebe begins Chapter Five by describing the Feast of the New Yam. What does the reader learn about Umuofian culture through this description?
2. Who is responsible for the major preparations for the Feast of the New Yam? What does this tell the reader about Ibo culture?
3. Why does Okonkwo become angry before the New Yam Festival? Was his anger directed in the right place? Why or why not?
4. For what reason does Achebe repeat the word beautiful when describing the way the women decorate their bodies and cut their childrens hair into patterns?
5. What is Ekwefis favorite part of the festival? Why?
6. When people call for one another, why do they respond Is that me?
7. What type of relationship has Ikemefuna developed with Okonkwos family? Cite an instance in this chapter that demonstrates this relationship.
8. What is the significance of the extended metaphor Achebe uses to describe the drums and their relationship to the village?
9. When Okonkwos wives bring him his food for the evening, Ezinma sits with her father while she waits for him to finish her mothers dish. Why does Okonkwo yell at her? Chapter Six
1. What is significant about the number of drums used at the wrestling?
2. What do Okonkwos springing to his feet and then sitting immediately imply?
3. Explain the literary device Achebe uses in the following line:
The air, which had been stretched taut with excitement, relaxed again.
4. Who is Chielo?
5. Discuss the type of language that Achebe uses to describe the fight and how this might add to the importance of this scene.
1. At the beginning of this chapter, the narrator states: He grew rapidly like a yam tendril in the rainy season, and was full of the sap of life. Of whom is he speaking? What does this image indicate about this person?
2. How does Okonkwo feel about Ikemefuna and the relationship that he has developed with his Nwoye?
3. What line in the first page of the chapter would indicate that Nwoye is only acting in a certain way in order to appease his father?
4. Consider the following lines and discuss whether or not you think they are the way everyone in Umuofia feels or just the way Okonkwo feels.
And so he was always happy when he heard him grumbling about his women. That showed that in time he would be able to control his women-folk. No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man.
5. How does Okonkwo define manliness?
6. Why does Achebe spends so much time setting up the dichotomy between Okonkwo and Nwoye?
7. Achebe includes one of the stories that Nwoye likes to hear his mother tell. Why does this story appear here?
8. What type of imagery does Achebe use to describe the arrival of the locusts? What is significant about this passage?
Achebe describes the arrival as follows:
At first, a fairly small swarm came. They were the harbingers sent to survey the land. And then appeared on the horizon a slowly-moving mass like a boundless sheet of black cloud drifting towards Umuofia. Soon it covered half the sky and the solid mass was now broken by tiny eyes of light like shining star dust. It was a tremendous sight, full of power and beauty.
9. Why do the village elders decide that Ikemefuna is to be killed?
10. How does the clan strike an apparent harmony between the will of the Community and the needs of the Individual?
11. Why does Okonkwo dress to go with the men who are taking Ikemefuna instead of staying removed from the business as he is told?
12. How does Achebe change the setting to complement what is happening in the story?
13. How does Okonkwo once again place his own fears above the good of his community?
14. What is the purpose of Nwoyes point of view?
15. What two themes have been identified by the end of Chapter 7?
1. What does the reader learn about Okonkwo from the following passage:
Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days after the death of Ikemefuna. He drank palm-wine from morning till night, and his eyes were red and fierce like the eyes of a rat when it was caught by the tail and dashed against the floor.
2. Again Okonkwo mentions that Ezinma should have been a boy. Why is it important that he mentions this at this point in the story?
3. What theme is advanced by the following passage?
When did you become a shivering old woman, Okonkwo asked himself, you, who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he has added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have become a woman indeed.
4. How does the reader know that Okonkwo is worried, not only about the future of his family, but also the future of the village?
5. What does Obierika believe about Okonkwos decision to help carry out Ikemefunas death? What might this foreshadow?
6. Achebe spends some time developing the story of Ozoemena and Ndulue. What is the purpose of this story? What does it illustrate about the differences in the way of thinking between Okonkwo and Obierika, but also about the village as a whole?
7. How could the following statementfunction as foreshadowing in the novel?
Okonkwo was not a man of thought but of action.
8. How does this chapter establish that things are changing within the village?
9. How are white people introduced in this chapter? What is the tone of the chapter at the time they are introduced?
1. What is an ogbanje and how does it relate to Ezinmas illness?
2. How does Okonkwos helplessness manifest itself?
1. Explain the disconnect between the chapters. Why would Achebe choose to do this?
2. Read the following lines:
It was clear from the way the crowd stood or sat that the ceremony was for men. There were many women, but they looked on from the fringe like outsiders.
What does this excerpt suggest about the role of women? What is significant about the placement of this passage relative to what has come immediately before, and what will come immediately after?
3. Explain the irony of the trial in this chapter. Is justice served in the egwugwus judgment?
4. How does the case brought before the egwugwu parallel Okonkwos life?
1. Often, the setting is not just where the story happens, but a geographical, historical, social, economic, or philosophical setting. Achebe begins this chapter with a description of the night. The reader learns earlier in the novel the significance the night has for people. What purpose does the setting serve at the beginning of this chapter?
2. This chapter focuses on Ibo folklore. Summarize the story of the tortoise and the birds and explain what it suggests about customs and traditions. How might this story relate to Okonkwo?
3. How does the story of the tortoise and the birds relate to colonialism?
4. What type of imagery does Achebe use to describe Ekwefis reaction to hearing her daughters name? Find similar language in the chapter that parallels this.
5. Why does Chielo visit Okonkwo and Ekwefi?
6. How does Ekwefi go against the wishes of Chielo?
7. Describe the rhetorical technique that Achebe uses in the paragraph that begins, The priestess voice was already growing faint in the distance. Why does Achebe use this technique?
8. Explain the irony in the situation that it begins to grow lighter as Ekwefi is still following Chielo.
9. How does Achebe maintain the tone of the chapter and the significance of Chielos power when the priestess reaches the circular ring of hills? How might a western reader interpret this section?
10. Who joins Ekwefi at the cave, and how does this contribute to his character development? Does this conflict with what we know about this character thus far?
11. How does Ekwefis decision to follow Chielo contradict Okonkwos ideas about femininity and masculinity?
1. Analyze Okonkwos feelings about what happened with Chielo. How is his response different from the way that Ekwefi views the situation?
2. On what type of ceremony does this chapter focus? How is this ceremony different from the other ceremonies that have been discussed in the book?
1. What happens that causes the cannons to boom? What does Okonkwo remember in relation to this event?
2. Why does Achebe include a funeral ceremony at this point in the novel?
3. What does the one-handed spirits benediction ironically foreshadow?
4. What is the significance of this deaths occurring at the center of the novel?
5. How is the accidental killing punished by Okwonkos clan? How does Okonkwo face his punishment? How do the village elders handle his punishment?
6. How does Obierika react to the punishment? Why do you think he reacts this way? What does he resolve after his contemplation? How does this resolution advance one of the themes of the novel?
7. How might the village interpret Okonkwos role in the death? What had Obierka warned Okonkwo about his role in Ikemefunas death?
8. How does Achebe create dramatic tension in this chapter? What purpose does the shooting serve?
9. Explain the irony in Okonkwos having to return to the motherland and that he committed the female crime.
10. What might Obierikas final statement foreshadow?
As the elders said, if one finger brought oil it soiled the others.
1. What does Okonkwo learn about family in his transition to life in Mbanta?
2. Cite several literary devices that Achebe uses when describing nature after the first rains and analyze the effect Achebe creates with their use.
3. How does Okonkwo compare beginning life as an older person to beginning life as a young man?
4. Why is Okonkwo unable to deal with his punishment? How does he seem to be behaving by sitting in a silent half-sleep?
5. Explain the significance of being cast out of his clan like a fish onto a dry, sandy beach, panting.
6. What does Okonkwo find discouraging about his chi?
7. What does Uchendu try to teach Okonkwo about the role of women?
8. What might Uchendus lecture portend for Okonkwo and foreshadow for the plot?
1. What is the purpose of Obierkas visit?
2. How do Obierika and Okonkwo greet Uchendu when they come to visit him?
3. What news does Obierika bring to Okonkwo?
4. What did the Oracle mean when it told the Abame that the white men were locusts?
5. To what do Obierka, Uchendu, and Okonkwo liken the arrival of the white men in Abame?
6. How does Achebe conclude the chapter? Why is this significant?
1. How do the clan leaders feel about the white mens religion? Why?
2. In what ways is Nwoyes being with the missionaries significant?
3. How are Nwoye and Okonkwo revealed to be more similar than different?
4. What imagery does Achebe use to illustrate how Nwoye felt after hearing the missionarys message?
5. Why does Achebe create a situation in which the missionaries cannot speak the African language?
1. What do the missionaries ask of the village? What do the leaders of the village grant the men? How does this backfire?
2. What prevents Nwoye from attending church the first Sunday it is open? What does this illustrate about the power of superstition?
3. Whom do the missionaries allow to join their church? What is unusual about this?
4. How does Okonkwo react when he learns that Nwoye has been at the church? Why do he and Nwoye no longer talk?
5. At the end of the chapter, what metaphor does Achebe use to illustrate Okonkwos belief about his son?
1. What does the narrator suggest has arrived along with the new religion?
2. Why do the missionaries insist that the outcasts shave their heads?
3. Part two of the novel relates much of what happens to the clan as a unit rather than just to Okonkwo. How does the reader know that Okonkwo is still the same man who came to the village after being banned from his fatherland?
4. In what two, almost contradictory, ways is Okolis death significant?
1. What do we learn about Okonkwo in the opening paragraphs of this chapter?
2. What do the names of the children that are born to Okonkwo during his exile symbolize about how he really feels about living in his motherland? How do the names of his children illustrate Okonkwos personality?
3. Explain the significance of the final speech in the chapter. What does it foreshadow for Part Three of the novel?
1. The first part of the novel focuses on Okonkwo and how he rises to prominence in his society. The first part also details customs and traditions among the people. The second part of the novel depicts Okonkwos exile, and the beginning of both his decline and the potential decline of Ibo culture. Chapter Twenty is the beginning of Part Three. What do you think Part Three will be about?
2. Explain the meaning of the following simile: The clan was like a lizard; if it lost its tail it soon grew another.
3. What effect does Achebe achieve with his use of anaphora in the first page of this chapter?
4. Why is it ironic that Okonkwo now blames his chi for his losses, especially the tragedy of his first son?
5. Why, according to Obierka, did the village not resist the white mans initial encroachment? Why wont he agree to fight now that Okonkwo has returned?
6. Explain the significance of the following line: He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
7. Okonkwo and Obierika seem to disagree a great deal throughout the novel. What does each person represent?
1. What turns out to be the real underlying reason for the white mans success in Umuofia?
2. Explain Mr. Browns method of conversion and why he is successful.
3. How does Umuofia respond to Okonkwos return? Why?
4. What does Mr. Browns visit to Okonkwo emphasize about relations between the Ibo and the Europeans?
5. How is the theme of the novel repeated in the last paragraph of this chapter?
1. How does Mr. Smiths arrival portend trouble for the clan?
2. How does Enoch create the conflict between the church and the clan? How was this event foreshadowed earlier in the novel?
3. Explain the importance of the following line: It seemed as if the very soul of the tribe wept for a great evil that was comingits own death.
4. How are Enoch and Okonkwo similar?
5. What is the inevitable result of Mr. Smiths inability to understand and communicate?
1. What do the first two paragraphs of this chapter suggest are the reasons that Okonkwo begins to feel happy again?
2. How does the District Commissioner break faith with the leaders of Umuofia?
3. What punishment does the District Commissioner impose on the men? What is the mens reaction?
4. How are the men treated in the jail that is in opposition to what the District Commissioner tells the guards to do?
5. What simile does Achebe use to describe the villages alarm and confusion? Why is this significant?
6. How is village life portrayed as already ended?
1. What kind of opportunity would a war offer to Okonkwo?
2. Based on what we already know about Okwonkos character, what does his insistence on war foreshadow?
3. Reread the exchange between Obierika and Okonkwo. How does it reflect the characteristics of both men? What does it foreshadow for Okonkwo?
4. How does Okonkwos statement about not caring what the group does predict his fall as a tragic hero?
5. In what ways is Okonkwos slaughter of the head messenger climactic?
1. Why has Okonkwo commited suicide?
2. Given his role as the tragic hero in the novel, is it inevitable that Okonkwo commit suicide?
3. On what kind of note does the novel end?
Using context to learn new words
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