Prose Analysis Poisonwood Bible

Lesson 1

Objectives: Students will be able to infer contextual formation as well as prioritize key details in the excerpt from The Poisonwood Bible by using guided annotations .

Do Now:

  1. Continue sharing your observations about the exemplary essay.
  2. Rounds 6 and 7.
  3. Write a reflection on the techniques you have learned from the exercise.
    1. What have you learned about writing an introductory paragraph with a strong thesis?
    2. What have you learned about the structure of a well-developed body paragraph?
    3. What have you learned about the function of topic sentences?
    4. What have you learned about analyzing the evidence?
    5. What have you learned about citing the evidence?
    6. What have you learned about writing an effective conclusion?
    7. What scores does the exemplary essay deserve and why? Use the language from the rubric to explain your choice.

Lesson Activities: 

Activity 1  : Look up online image (1)of the Congo River and discuss what impact the landscape might have on culture, life style, human relationships and perspectives.

Congo Image 2

Qs1-6

1. What is most important feature in this photograph? Explain why it is so important.
2. What words or phrases would you use to describe this photograph? List them below and provide an explanation for each one.
Descriptive Word/Phrase:
Explanation:
Descriptive Word/Phrase:
Explanation:
3. What impact might this landscape have on human beings? Explain your reasoning.

4. What is most important feature in this photograph? Explain why it is so important.
5. What words or phrases would you use to describe this photograph? List them below and provide an explanation for each one.
Descriptive Word/Phrase:
Explanation:
Descriptive Word/Phrase:
Explanation:
6. What impact might this landscape have on human beings? Explain your reasoning.

Step 1: Take 6 minutes to share at your home group the question assigned. Make sure to write down your response.

Step 2: Meet up with all the ones, twos and threes and share your expert’s opinion about the question.

Step 3: Return to your home group and present to the class.

Activity 2: Jigsaw Activity

Read aloud the entire excerpt.

The excerpt included in this lesson is from the novel The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. The novel is set in what is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country located in central Africa. The pictures you examined in Activity One represent one photographer’s understanding of the Congo. Kingsolver will provide a detailed written description of the Congo and she will include a description of how this setting impacts characters directly. As you read the excerpt from The Poisonwood Bible, you will focus on three close reading strategies to assist you in annotating and understanding the excerpt.

  1. . Identifying Details/Summarizing: Periodically, you will be asked to identify key details in the excerpt.  Seek key details that capture the gist, or the main idea, of the excerpt and are essential in making meaning of the excerpt.  Use those key details to summarize each section of the excerpt. Key details are important, supporting statements found in the excerpt. A summary is a brief statement of the main points of a text. A summary is much shorter than the original text.
  2.  Vocabulary: As you read, words will be identified for a vocabulary study. Knowing the meanings of these words is important to your understanding of the excerpt.
  3.  Levels of Questions: Learn about the Levels of Questions and complete the leveled questions next to the excerpt. To demonstrate a deeper understanding of the excerpt, you will be asked to create your own leveled questions.
  4. Levels of Questions Level One: Reading On the Line As you read, you should mentally ask questions that can be answered with information directly from the text. In other words, you can put your finger on the answer. Recall facts and details that answer questions such as who, what, when, and where.
  5. Level Two: Reading Between the Lines Ask questions that can be answered by making inferences based upon evidence from the text. You must examine the textual evidence carefully and make your own assumptions. Generate questions that can be answered by interpreting, classifying, comparing, and finding patterns.
  6. Level Three: Reading Beyond the Lines Connecting the text to universal meaning is a way to move beyond the text that is in front of you. Ask questions that are open-ended, provoke a discussion of abstract ideas and themes, and are not text specific.

Passage 1:

(1) Imagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened. First, picture the forest. I want you to be its conscience, the eyes in the trees. The trees are columns of slick, brindled bark like muscular animals overgrown beyond all reason. Every space is filled with life: delicate, poisonous frogs war-painted like skeletons[…] Vines strangling their own kin in the everlasting wrestle for sunlight. The breathing of monkeys. A glide of snake belly on branch. A single-file army of ants biting a mammoth tree into uniform grains and hauling it down to the dark for their ravenous queen. And, in reply, a choir of seedlings arching their necks out of rotted tree stumps, sucking life out of death. This forest eats itself and lives forever.

Key Details: Examine the sentences that are in bold. In your own words, identify two key details from this section of the excerpt.   Vocabulary: The narrator describes the tree bark as “brindled.” Brindled means mostly brown with streaks of other colors. a. To what is the narrator comparing the trees? b. How does understanding that brindled includes “streaks” of colors make this comparison more visual? Level One Question: Why are the vines strangling one another? Level Two Question: Based on the narrator’s description, how would you describe the forest?

Summary: Using the key details, write a 1-2 sentence summary of this section.

Passage 2:

(2) Away down below now, single file on the path, comes a woman with four girls in tow, all of them in shirtwaist dresses. Seen from above this way they are pale, doomed blossoms, bound to appeal to your sympathies. Be careful. Later on you’ll have to decide what sympathy they deserve. The mother especially—watch how she leads them on, pale-eyed, deliberate. Her dark hair is tied in a ragged lace handkerchief, and her curved jawbone is lit with large, false-pearl earrings, as if these headlamps from another world might show the way. The daughters march behind her, four girls compressed in bodies as tight as bowstrings, each one tensed to fire off a woman’s heart on a different path to glory or damnation. Even now they resist affinity like cats in a bag: two blondes—the one short and fierce, the other tall and imperious—flanked by matched brunettes like bookends, the forward twin leading hungrily while the rear one sweeps the ground in a rhythmic limp. But gamely enough they climb together over logs of rank decay that have fallen across the path. The mother waves a graceful hand in front of her as she leads the way, parting curtain after curtain of spiders’ webs. She appears to be conducting a symphony. Behind them the curtain closes. The spiders return to their killing ways.

Guided ANNOTATIONS:

Key Details: Examine the sentences that are in bold. In your own words, identify two key details from this section of the excerpt.   Vocabulary: The narrator states that the girls resist “affinity.” Affinity means a natural liking for someone or a similarity of characteristics. a. Now that you know the definition of affinity, what does it mean to “resist affinity”? b. Highlight words in the same sentence that can be used as context clues to help you understand how they “resist affinity.” Level One Question: In the second sentence of this paragraph, to what does the narrator compare the woman and four girls? Level Two Question: Based on the narrator’s description, how would you describe the woman, specifically in how she is moving through the forest?

Summary: Using the key details, write a 1-2 sentence summary of this section.

Passage 3:

(3) At the stream bank she sets out their drear picnic, which is only dense, crumbling bread daubed with crushed peanuts and slices of bitter plantain. After months of modest hunger the children now forget to complain about food. Silently they swallow, shake off the crumbs, and drift downstream for a swim in faster water. The mother is left alone in the cove of enormous trees at the edge of a pool. This place is as familiar to her now as a living room in the house of a life she never bargained for. She rests uneasily in the silence, watching ants boil darkly over the crumbs of what seemed, to begin with, an impossibly meager lunch. Always there is someone hungrier than her own children. She tucks her dress under her legs and inspects her poor, featherless feet in their grass nest at the water’s edge—twin birds helpless to fly out of there, away from the disaster she knows is coming. She could lose everything: herself, or worse, her children. Worst of all: you, her only secret. Her favorite. How could a mother live with herself to blame?

Guided Annotation:

Key Details: Examine the sentences that are in bold. In your own words, identify two key details from this section of the excerpt.   Vocabulary: The narrator describes their picnic as “drear.” Drear is a word you may not be able to find in a dictionary, so you might need to examine the word carefully. a. By adding the letter y to the end of drear, you have dreary. What associations do you have with the word dreary? b. Dreary means dull, drab, uninteresting. Highlight words and phrases throughout this paragraph that have the same or similar meaning as dreary. c. How did examining the word and identifying context clues help you understand why the narrator described their picnic as “drear”? Level One Question: What concerns does the mother have that cause her to rest uneasily? Level Two Question: Why does the mother bring such a meager, insufficient lunch for her children?

Summary: Using the key details, write a 1-2 sentence summary of this section

Passage 4:

(4) She is inhumanly alone. And then, all at once, she isn’t. A beautiful animal stands on the other side of the water. They look up from their lives, woman and animal, amazed to find themselves in the same place. He freezes, inspecting her with his black-tipped ears. His back is purplish-brown in the dim light, sloping downward from the gentle hump of his shoulders. The forest’s shadows fall into lines across his white-striped flanks. His stiff forelegs splay out to the sides like stilts, for he’s been caught in the act of reaching down for water. Without taking his eyes from her, he twitches a little at the knee, then the shoulder, where a fly devils him. Finally he surrenders his surprise, looks away, and drinks. She can feel the touch of his long, curled tongue on the water’s skin, as if he were lapping from her hand. His head bobs gently, nodding small, velvet horns lit white from behind like new leaves. (5) It lasted just a moment, whatever that is. One held breath? An ant’s afternoon? It was brief, I can promise that much, for although it’s been many years now since my children ruled my life, a mother recalls the measure of the silences. I never had more than five minutes’ peace unbroken. I was that woman on the stream bank, of course. Orleanna Price, Southern Baptist by marriage, mother of children living and dead. That one time and no other the okapi came to the stream, and I was the only one to see it.

Guided Annotaiton

Key Details: Examine the sentences that are in bold. In your own words, identify two key details from this section of the excerpt.   Vocabulary: The narrator states that the woman is “inhumanly” alone. Inhumanly means to act cruelly or brutally, lacking sympathy or compassion. a. What does it mean to be “inhumanly alone”? b. What connection does the woman find with the animal that makes her no longer feel so alone? Level One Question: Who is the narrator of this excerpt? Level Two Question: How is the description of the okapi different from the description of all the other animals and the plants of the forest?

Summary: Using the key details, write a 1-2 sentence summary of this section.

Exist Slip:

Summary: Using your section summaries, summarize the entire excerpt in 1-2 sentences. a. Copy your summary from the first section of the excerpt below. b. Copy your summary from the second section of the excerpt below. c. Copy your summary from the third section of the excerpt below. d. Copy your summary from the fourth section of the excerpt below. e. Examine the four summaries above. Write a concise summary in one to two sentences that captures the meaning of the entire excerpt._

____________________________

 

Objectives: Students will be able to analyze how an author uses literary devices to achieve her purpose by reading closely a short story “Birthday Party” by Katherine Brush.

Text: a hard copy of the short story Birthday Party

Do Now: Look at an advertisement from 1950s. What’s the obvious purpose of the ad? Is there a deeper purpose hidden behind all the signifiers? Use personal whiteboard to share ideas.

Mini Lesson: What does ” author’s purpose” refer to?  Why is it important to  know the purpose? How do we bring out the implications ( hidden purpose)?

The author’s purpose is the reason he or she chose certain materials, describe characters in certain ways, choice of words, use of particular point if view etc. it’s the why behind the writing.  Some verbs that may illustrate an author’s purpose include: Compare and Contrast, Criticize, Describe/Illustrate, Explain, Identify/List: Author wanted to tell the reader about an idea or series of ideas, Intensify or Suggest.

Read the story out loud and identify three literary elements or techniques that stand out for you the most. Consider diction, imagery, anonymity of the characters( use of pronouns not proper names) , syntax ,point of view, symbolism and irony.

We’ll do Notice& Focus and Method activity-

  1. What do you find most interesting? Strange? Revealing? What doesn’t fit? Make a list of such details you notice.
  2. The method -From the details you have gathered,
  • What repeats? diction, syntax or a symbol? Is it a  particular imagery, idea or feeling? So what?
  • What goes with what ( strands) or what connections do you see among the details?  So what?
  • What is opposed to what (binaries)? Point of view? SO WHAT?
  • What doesn’t fit? -> SO What?

Share one literary element or technique that stood out the most for you from the exercise. Briefly explain why. What purpose do you think it serves( so what?)

Elicit  4-5 examples of literary elements or techniques from the responses and the class will be divided into small groups and each group will focus  on one specific literary element or technique.

Independent Practice

Based on our observations, we will discuss how Katherine Brush uses diction, imagery, syntax ,point of view, symbolism and irony to achieve her purpose.

Each group pick an element or technique to discuss further how the author uses it to serve her purpose. Be sure to –

  1. Make a claim: State what purpose the technique serves( so what), i.e. Bush uses abrupt and fragmented syntax to create a sad but tense mood contrary to the occasion, a birthday party.
  2. Provide two examples of a specific literary element or technique to illustrate the claim you have made. Explain why(analyze the evidence you have collected). Use direct quotations. Quote the entire line before zooming in for a specific word or phrase analysis.
  3. Answer ” so what”.

We will share the responses in class by picking groups that focus on different literary elements and techniques.

To sum up, what do you believe is the purpose of Brush’s story? Why? If we merely look at the story itself, would we have derived at the same conclusion?

So how do we make sense with these individual claims? Here are some of the claims based on the text evidence you have observed-

  • The husband seems to be crude, insensitive and more controlling
  • the wife seems to be caring ,submissive and voiceless
  • the couple live such a mundane marital life and everything seems to be part a routine excerpt for the  gay hat that is later used to conceal sadness;
  • the shift in point of view shows the narrator’s emotional involvement , her sympathy for the wife;
  • the abrupt and fragmented syntax reveals the disconnection between the couple.

How do we combine the ideas and make a thesis statement using a complex sentence?

To combine the claims we have drawn, here is the thesis statement-

It is pitiful and grotesque ( shift in point of view)  to see such disconnection and inequality in a human relationship, in particular , marriage  where women are voiceless and play an inferior role.

What’s the author’s true purpose?

Brush uses diction, imagery, various points of view and syntax to criticize the inequality and cruelty of human relationship exhibited in marriage and empathize with those , in this case a woman, who are voiceless and powerless.

Homework: Write an essay in which you show how Brush uses literary devices to achieve her purpose. ( View rubric provided by College Board page 4 and examples of the responses.