The Woman in the Dunes

Unit 3: Japanese Literature: The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe

Unit Summary:  In this unit, students will gain thorough understanding of how an author uses literary techniques or elements to develop ideas. For each chapter, they will identify various literary techniques or elements and make connections between a central idea and main writing strategy. They will also write various literary analysis of character development, symbolism and irony as well as the use of figures of speech. Since the novel is written by a famous Japanese writer who is considered a Japanese Kafka, students will read non fictional texts about the philosophy of existentialism, its history and development, in particular the study of Camus’ ideas on the philosophy. Since the novel provides ample illustrations of existentialism, students will make connections between the events and characters’ actions and ideas from the philosophy. They will critique the characters as well as the philosophy by evaluating the details in the novel. By the end of the unit, students will gain knowledge about existentialism, human struggles and skills of analysis, making connections between what they have learned from the novel and their own lives. They will also gain understanding of Japanese culture and its people.

Enduring Understanding(s)
Students will understand that-

  • Struggle is the universal theme in human existence.
  • Our will to survive is the strongest will of all.
  • Our will determines our actions.
  • People may always feel trapped in their unique situations.
  • Mankind always tries to seek its unique life experiences.
  • People often need to find meaning in seemingly absurd life.
  • Authors often use writing strategies to portray their characters and themes.
  • A book may have many themes that are portrayed through its characters, setting, irony, imagery, conflict, etc.
  • Human beings are extremely resilient and they will be defeated only when they believe they have been defeated.
  • In the end, no matter how insignificant life seems to be, individuals can find unique experience from it, which is the meaning of life.
  • The meaning of life is open for individual interpretations depending on one’s values, expectations, hopes and education and religion, etc.

Essential Questions:

  • What is the meaning of existence?
  • Do we live to work or work to live? Why?
  • How does sand symbolize erosion of morality and sanity?
  • How is a man trapped anywhere he goes? What does it say about his existence?
  • Why is existence a Sisyphean act?
  • How is the sinister mood portrayed throughout the novel?
  • How does the protagonist’s attitude toward the woman in the novel represent the author’s view toward women?
  • Why is Abe compared to Kafka?
  • How do we deal with the perpetual conflict  in life between the meaninglessness of resistance and the discovery of meaning out of an extreme (environmental) situation?
  • How do we view Jumpei’s entrapment?
  • How is the  psychological tension of the story created?
  • Some believe The Women in the Dunes is chilling in its depiction of Niki’s capture, psychological torment, and ultimate fate, which leaves the reader with the question, “Am I not trapped as well. Do you agree with the evaluation of the novel? Why or why not?

Students will be able to understand-

  • Key concepts and ideas about existentialism
  • Literary concepts such as stream of consciousness, irony, allegory, symbolism, imagery and paradox
  • The profound meaning existing in the absurd story
  • How an author creates psychological tensions as his plot
  • How the literary work offers glimpse of Japanese culture from the past and at present
  • Elements in an argumentative writing
  • Elements in an analytical writing

Students will be able to –

  • Identify various writing strategies from the novel and write about how they help the author develop his central ideas
  • Analyze how verbs and verbal phrases are used to enhance the complexity of a narrative as well as developing the characters
  • Use complex syntax to express ideas in a more succinct manner
  • Write an textual analysis essay
  • Write an argumentative essay
  • Use a specific writing strategy such as “Notice * Focus, Method” or “ Passage based Focused free writing”(PBFF) to focus on textual details and derive at a claim.

Resources: Reviews of the novel in Good Reads

Assessment Evidence

Diagnostic Assessment(s) :

  •  Respond to questions related to the “what, where, when and how”
  • Quiz on the required background knowledge of the novel
  • Dialectical journals
  •  vocabulary quizzes   

Formative: reading responses, quick writes, synthesis journals, PBFF (passage based focued free writing) , responding to specific quotations, writing a terza rima sonnet

Summative Performance Assessment:

  • A textual analysis essay on the use of Symbolism /Setting/Conflict in the novel The Woman in the Dunes
  • A textual analysis essay on the use of irony
  • An argumentative essay on whether the protagonist Jumpei has lost his will eventually when he decides to stay in the dunes or he has discovered new meanings in the desolate dunes
  • Portfolio

Materials:

  • hard copies of the novel The Woman in the Dunes
  • informational articles on existentialism
  • analysis rubric
  • argumentative writing rubric
  • portfolio rubric
  • unit website: http://www.litstudies.org/World_Literature/
  • grammar interactive activities: http://chompchomp.com/exercises.htm

Resources:

  1. teacher-created unit website: http://www.litstudies.org/World_Literature/
  2. grammar websites with interactive activities
  3. online thesaurus: http://www.thesaurus.com/
  4. online dictionary: w-m.com
  5. online grammar help-
    – http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/grammar/
  6. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/composition/composition.htm ( Principals of Composition)

Before we start the unit, here is an introduction to Ways of Responding to a Text-

After we read, there are several ways we can respond to a text. Pick one idea from the list to respond to each section of the novel ( two sections):

  1. Write one sentence to sum up each section. Be precise.
  2. Select two quotations from each chapter. Explain the meaning of each quotation and see how the ideas of the two quotations connect or contradict or contribute to a specific theme.
  3. Ask two open-ended questions.
  4. State a central idea.
  5. Identify two examples of a specific literary elements or techniques and explain how they contribute to a specific meaning. State the meaning.
  6. Identify words or ideas that seemingly don’t fit into the section. What interpretations do you have for such strangeness?
  7. Identify words or phrases that belong to a strand. Putting words all together, at what meaning can you derive ?
  8. Select a sophisticated sentence and do paraphrase x 3 ( paraphrase the same sentence three times and see how you derive at different meaning each time).
  9. Do a passage-based focused free writing 

Lesson 1

Session 1 : Writing

Objectives: Students will become familiar with the author Kobe Abe and the philosophy of existentialism

Aim: Why Kobe Abe’s literary work represents the 20th century literature in Japan?

Do Now: Who is Kobo Abe? When is the novel The Woman in the Dunes published? How is the book post war related?

Mini Lesson

What is existentialism? Who is Camus? Kafka? Becket? What is essential in the philosophy of existentialism?

Definition-Existentialism: a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

Read each passage below. What does each passage address about existence?

Passage 1:

“Philosophically, Camus is known for his conception of the absurd. Perhaps we should clarify from the very beginning what the absurd is not. The absurd is not nihilism. For Camus the acceptance of the absurd does not lead to nihilism (according to Nietzsche nihilism denotes the state in which the highest values devalue themselves) or to inertia, but rather to their opposite: to action and participation. The notion of the absurd signifies the space which opens up between, on the one hand, man’s need for intelligibility and, on the other hand, ‘the unreasonable silence of the world’ as he beautifully puts it. In a world devoid of God, eternal truths or any other guiding principle, how could man bear the responsibility of a meaning-giving activity? The absurd man, like an astronaut looking at the earth from above, wonders whether a philosophical system, a religion or a political ideology is able to make the world respond to the questioning of man, or rather whether all human constructions are nothing but the excessive face-paint of a clown which is there to cover his sadness. This terrible suspicion haunts the absurd man.” (http://www.iep.utm.edu/existent/#SH2f )

“One has to be aware of death – because it is precisely the realization of man’s mortality that pushes someone to strive for answers – and one has ultimately to reject death …as well as the living death of inertia and inaction. At the end one has to keep the absurd alive, as Camus says. But what does it that mean?”

Passage 2:

“In The Myth of Sisyphus Camus tells the story of the mythical Sisyphus who was condemned by the Gods to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a mountain and then have to let it fall back again of its own weight. “Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn” (Camus 2000:109). One must imagine then Sisyphus victorious: fate and absurdity have been overcome by a joyful contempt. Scorn is the appropriate response in the face of the absurd; another name for this ‘scorn’ though would be artistic creation. When Camus says: “One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness” (Camus 2000:110) he writes about a moment of exhilarated madness, which is the moment of the genesis of the artistic work. Madness, but nevertheless profound – think of the function of the Fool in Shakespeare’s King Lear as the one who reveals to the king the most profound truths through play, mimicry and songs. Such madness can overcome the absurd without cancelling it altogether.”

“Almost ten years after the publication of The Myth of Sisyphus Camus publishes his second major philosophical work, The Rebel (1951). Camus continues the problematic which had begun with The Myth of Sisyphus. Previously, revolt or creation had been considered the necessary response to the absurdity of existence. Here, Camus goes on to examine the nature of rebellion and its multiple manifestations in history. In The Myth of Sisyphus, in truly Nietzschean fashion, Camus had said: “There is but one useful action, that of remaking man and the earth” (Camus 2000:31). However, in The Rebel, reminiscent of Orwell’s Animal Farm, one of the first points he makes is the following: “The slave starts by begging for justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He too wants to dominate” (Camus 2000b:31). The problem is that while man genuinely rebels against both unfair social conditions and, as Camus says, against the whole of creation, nevertheless in the practical administration of such revolution, man comes to deny the humanity of the other in an attempt to impose his own individuality. Take for example the case of the infamous Marquis de Sade which Camus explores. In Sade, contradictory forces are at work (see The 120 Days of Sodom). On the one hand, Sade wishes the establishment of a (certainly mad) community with desire as the ultimate master, and on the other hand this very desire consumes itself and all the subjects who stand in its way.”

Passage 3:

“Camus goes on to examine historical manifestations of rebellion, the most prominent case being that of the French Revolution. Camus argues that the revolution ended up taking the place of the transcendent values which it sought to abolish. An all-powerful notion of justice now takes the place formerly inhabited by God. Rousseau’s infamous suggestion that under the rule of ‘general will’ everyone would be ‘forced to be free’ (Rousseau in Foley 2008:61) opens the way to the crimes committed after the revolution. Camus fears that all revolutions end with the re-establishment of the State. “…Seventeen eighty-nine brings Napoleon; 1848 Napoleon III; 1917 Stalin; the Italian disturbances of the twenties, Mussolini; the Weimar Republic, Hitler” (Camus 2000b:146). Camus is led to examine the Marxist view of history as a possible response to the failed attempts at the establishment of a true revolutionary regime. Camus examines the similarities between the Christian and the Marxist conception of history. They both exhibit a bourgeois preoccupation with progress. In the name of the future everything can be justified: “the future is the only kind of property that the masters willingly concede to the slaves” (Camus 2000b:162). History according to both views is the linear progress from a set beginning to a definite end (the metaphysical salvation of man or the materialistic salvation of him in the future Communist society). Influenced by Kojève’s reading of Hegel, Camus interprets this future, classless society as the ‘end of history’. The ‘end of history’ suggests that when all contradictions cease then history itself will come to an end. This is, Camus argues, essentially nihilistic: history, in effect, accepts that meaning creation is no longer possible and commits suicide. Because historical revolutions are for the most part nihilistic movements, Camus suggests that it is the making-absolute of the values of the revolution that necessarily lead to their negation. On the contrary a relative conception of these values will be able to sustain a community of free individuals who have not forgotten that every historical rebellion has begun by affirming a proto-value (that of human solidarity) upon which every other value can be based.

Your Turn to Practice:

Read some online comments about the novel. How do the ideas implied in the comments connect to the philosophy of existentialism?

Comments:

  1. As signature work of this period, the novel is grounded in postwar anxiety. The threat of a destructive war and nuclear event still hangs in the air.
  2. The woman here, who is unnamed throughout the novel, is presented as a victim of war. Homeless, she must have wandered around after escaping from air bombings until she finds this seaside community. When the character of the woman was introduced for the first time, she is called “Granny” by the village men but she is actually a young woman, about thirty years of age. Perhaps her wartime experiences has aged her. Maybe she has been living in that metaphorical cave for all eternity.
  3. Sand, its oppression, can be thought of as symbol of time or eternity (as in sands of time). Its dynamic processes are powerful, destructive, and beautiful. In the book, Jumpei equates unsympathetic sand with death, the “beauty of death”, “a rejection of the stationary state”,

… a world where existence was a series of states. The beauty of sand … belonged to death. It was the beauty of death that ran through the magnificence of its ruins and its great power of destruction.

4. The imagery of the natural destruction wrought by sand is not that different from the destruction wrought by wars. Both lead to houses being buried, to peoples being left homeless and destitute. The sand pit, therefore, can also be seen as a bomb shelter where people take cover in order to survive the air raids.

5. For all its stifling and suffocating set up, the hopeful ending of The Woman in the Dunes can be seen as a response to Rousseau’s proposition of a social contract. Man is born free, and everywhere finds himself enchained. Living in an inhospitable environment, under parched conditions, sentenced into a lifetime of manual labor, man’s resilience is tested to its outer limits. Jumpei is in denial of his “unchanging” reality. He is answerable to the general will of the people (the villagers) and his acknowledgement of it can lead to his redemption.

6. Though Kafka’s protagonists and Jumpei shared the seeming futility of life experience, the latter’s slow acceptance of his absurd condition signal a renewal of life in the face of perpetual destruction. Through the repetition of activities, he has discovered new aspects of desert life that are robust for investigation. His curiosity for scientific knowledge is rekindled. “Loneliness was an unsatisfied thirst for illusion,” he concluded at one point. Perhaps his happiness lies in attempting to satisfy his thirst for empirical knowledge.

7. Abe draws inspiration from Kafka and Beckett, and grounds his surreal exploration of existentialist themes in agonizing detail. It is a gripping, if at time disorienting, narrative.

Homework: Select one passage from today’s lesson. Explain its meaning and respond : do you agree? Why? disagree? why not?

Session 2: Reading

Objectives: Students will grasp the mood portrayed in the beginning of the novel through their understanding of the portrayal of the setting , protagonist and conflict.

Aim: What is the mood in the beginning chapter? How is it portrayed?

Do Now: What’s your impression of the main character? Quote words or lines that describe him directly. What’s the setting? emerging conflict?

Mini Lesson:

Reading as solving a puzzle-

  1. What fits? what does not fit?
  2. What’s strange? Which details belong to a strand?
  3. Is there any element being repeated? What does the repetition mean?
  4. Is there any imagery that stands out more to you? Why?
  5. What are some of the questions I have?

Interpret and respond

  1. “Even in children, unusual preoccupation with insect collecting frequently indicates an Oedipus complex. In order to compensate for his unsatisfied desires, the child enjoys sticking pins into insects, which he need never fear will escape. And the fact that he does not leave off once he has grown up is quite definitely a sign that the condition has become worse. Thus it is far from accidental that entomologists frequently have an acute drive for acquisitions and that they are extremely reclusive, kleptomaniac, homosexual. From this point to suicide out of weariness with the world is but a step”.
  2. He claimed that in a grown man enthusiasm for such a useless pastime as collecting insects was evidence enough of a mental quirk.( 2)

Chapter 2

  1. Describe the landscape.
  2. What’s so strange and eerie about the village? Why is the place ” disturbing and unsettling”?
  3. How does the description of the beetle ironic and bears the mark of existentialism?
  4. How is sand personified?

Homework: How do the beginning two chapters set the tone ( state what kind of tone) for the development of the novel ?

Read and respond to chapters 3, 4, & 5.

Lesson 2

Session 1 : Writing

Objectives: Students will gain new understanding of existentialism by reading closely the passages assigned.

Aim: What’s your new understanding of existentialism and how does Camus use narrative to illustrate his philosophical ideas?

Agenda

Do Now: Share your interpretation of each assigned passage in small groups.  Get ready to present to the class.

Small group presentation

Mini Lesson

How do we write a passage-based free writing ( see the handout ) as a response?

  • text-based
  • making connections
  • making specific references

Your Turn to Practice: Select a specific passage in the novel and write a passage-based response.

Cited from : http://www.iep.utm.edu/camus/#SH5cThe Absurd Even readers not closely acquainted with Camus’ works are aware of his reputation as the philosophical expositor, anatomist, and poet-apostle of the absurd. Indeed as even sit-com writers and stand-up comics apparently understand (odd fact: Camus has been used to explain episodes of Seinfeld and The Simpsons), it is largely through the thought and writings of the French-Algerian author that the concept of absurdity has become a part not only of world literature and twentieth-century philosophy, but of modern popular culture as well.What then is meant by the notion of the absurd? Contrary to the view conveyed by popular culture, the absurd, (at least in Camus’ terms) does not simply refer to some vague perception that modern life is fraught with paradoxes, incongruities, and intellectual confusion. (Although that perception is certainly consistent with his formula.) Instead, as he himself emphasizes and tries to make clear, the absurd expresses a fundamental disharmony, a tragic incompatibility, in our existence. In effect, he argues that the absurd is the product of a collision or confrontation between our human desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life and the blank, indifferent “silence of the universe.” (“The absurd is not in man nor in the world,” Camus explains, “but in their presence together. . . it is the only bond uniting them.”)So here we are: poor creatures desperately seeking hope and meaning in a hopeless, meaningless world. Sartre, in his essay-review of The Stranger provides an additional gloss on the idea: “The absurd, to be sure, resides neither in man nor in the world, if you consider each separately. But since man’s dominant characteristic is ‘being in the world,’ the absurd is, in the end, an inseparable part of the human condition.” The absurd, then, presents itself in the form of an existential opposition. It arises from the human demand for clarity and transcendence on the one hand and a cosmos that offers nothing of the kind on the other. Such is our fate: we inhabit a world that is indifferent to our sufferings and deaf to our protests.In Camus’ view there are three possible philosophical responses to this predicament. Two of these he condemns as evasions; the other he puts forward as a proper solution.Our first choice is blunt and simple: physical suicide. If we decide that a life without some essential purpose or meaning is not worth living, we can simply choose to kill ourselves. Camus rejects this choice as cowardly. In his terms it is a repudiation or renunciation of life, not a true revolt.Choice two is the religious solution of positing a transcendent world of solace and meaning beyond the Absurd. Camus calls this solution “philosophical suicide” and rejects it as transparently evasive and fraudulent. To adopt a supernatural solution to the problem of the absurd (for example, through some type of mysticism or leap of faith) is to annihilate reason, which in Camus’ view is as fatal and self-destructive as physical suicide. In effect, instead of removing himself from the absurd confrontation of self and world like the physical suicide, the religious believer simply removes the offending world, replacing it, via a kind of metaphysical abracadabra, with a more agreeable alternative.Choice three (in Camus’ view the only authentic and valid solution) is simply to accept absurdity, or better yet to embrace it, and to continue living. Since the absurd in his view is an unavoidable, indeed defining, characteristic of the human condition, the only proper response to it is full, unflinching, courageous acceptance. Life, he says, can “be lived all the better if it has no meaning.”The example par excellence of this option of spiritual courage and metaphysical revolt is the mythical Sisyphus of Camus’ philosophical essay. Doomed to eternal labor at his rock, fully conscious of the essential hopelessness of his plight, Sisyphus nevertheless pushes on. In doing so he becomes for Camus a superb icon of the spirit of revolt and of the human condition. To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism.Over the course of his career, Camus examines the Absurd from multiple perspectives and through the eyes of many different characters – from the mad Caligula, who is obsessed with the problem, to the strangely aloof and yet simultaneously self-absorbed Mersault, who seems indifferent to it even as he exemplifies and is finally victimized by it. In The Myth of Sisyphus Camus traces it in specific characters of legend and literature (Don Juan, Ivan Karamazov) and also in certain character types (the Actor, the Conqueror), all of whom may be understood as in some way a version or manifestation of Sisyphus, the archetypal absurd hero.

Homework: Create a poster board in pairs on Existentialism.

Session 2 : Reading

Objectives: Students will gain insights into the symbolic meanings of the sand by identifying examples of imagery, metaphor and personification in chapters 3-5.

Aim: How does sand describe in these chapters? What role does it play in the story?

Do Now:  Share homework about the tone revealed in chapters 1 & 2.

Mini Lesson: 

Analysis begins with descriptions.

1. Review important details in chapter 2.

In chapter 2, the landscape is described as ” disturbing and unsettling”. Find specific descriptions to explain the mood.

2. Identify specific words and phrases that describe the landscape in chapter 3, for example ” crescent-shaped line of dunes”.

What effects does the landscape have on the reader?

3. Make a list of the expressions used to describe sand.

Examine the descriptions, what role does the sand play in the novel?

Your Turn to Practice:

Find details that describe the woman. What kind of woman is she?

Identify words that describe the teacher’s attitude toward the woman. How does the attitude reflect  the author’s attitude toward women in general?

Homework: Complete your ” Practice” . Read chapters 6, 7 & 8. Select three activities to create your responses to each chapter.

Lesson 3

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will demonstrate their understanding of existentialism through presentation and making connections with Abe’s novel.

Aim: Do you agree with the essential ideas about existentialism? Why or why not?

Agenda

Do Now: Take a few minutes to get ready your presentation.

Activities:

  1. Each pair present ideas about existentialism.
  2. Q & A

Formative Assessment: From all the ideas you have heard from the presentations, which particular idea stands out for you, why? Do you agree with it? Why or why not?

Homework:  Pick a passage from chapters 6-8, write a passage-based focused free writing.

Session 2 : Reading

Objectives:  Students will capture the descriptions of ” being trapped” both physically and psychologically in chapters 6-8.

Aim: How is the feeling of ” being trapped” described by Abe in the chapters ( 6-8)?

Do Now:  Describe an incident when you felt trapped. How did you feel when that happened?

Mini Lesson

Read the passage below and respond to the Question:

According to Camus, what’s the best way to deal with , what he calls it, ” a hopeless human condition”? What does this action say about mankind?

Cited from : http://www.iep.utm.edu/camus/#SH5c The Absurd

Even readers not closely acquainted with Camus’ works are aware of his reputation as the philosophical expositor, anatomist, and poet-apostle of the absurd. Indeed as even sit-com writers and stand-up comics apparently understand (odd fact: Camus has been used to explain episodes of Seinfeld and The Simpsons), it is largely through the thought and writings of the French-Algerian author that the concept of absurdity has become a part not only of world literature and twentieth-century philosophy, but of modern popular culture as well.

What then is meant by the notion of the absurd? Contrary to the view conveyed by popular culture, the absurd, (at least in Camus’ terms) does not simply refer to some vague perception that modern life is fraught with paradoxes, incongruities, and intellectual confusion. (Although that perception is certainly consistent with his formula.) Instead, as he himself emphasizes and tries to make clear, the absurd expresses a fundamental disharmony, a tragic incompatibility, in our existence. In effect, he argues that the absurd is the product of a collision or confrontation between our human desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life and the blank, indifferent “silence of the universe.” (“The absurd is not in man nor in the world,” Camus explains, “but in their presence together. . . it is the only bond uniting them.”)

So here we are: poor creatures desperately seeking hope and meaning in a hopeless, meaningless world. Sartre, in his essay-review of The Stranger provides an additional gloss on the idea: “The absurd, to be sure, resides neither in man nor in the world, if you consider each separately. But since man’s dominant characteristic is ‘being in the world,’ the absurd is, in the end, an inseparable part of the human condition.” The absurd, then, presents itself in the form of an existential opposition. It arises from the human demand for clarity and transcendence on the one hand and a cosmos that offers nothing of the kind on the other. Such is our fate: we inhabit a world that is indifferent to our sufferings and deaf to our protests.

In Camus’ view there are three possible philosophical responses to this predicament. Two of these he condemns as evasions; the other he puts forward as a proper solution.

Our first choice is blunt and simple: physical suicide. If we decide that a life without some essential purpose or meaning is not worth living, we can simply choose to kill ourselves. Camus rejects this choice as cowardly. In his terms it is a repudiation or renunciation of life, not a true revolt.

Choice two is the religious solution of positing a transcendent world of solace and meaning beyond the Absurd. Camus calls this solution “philosophical suicide” and rejects it as transparently evasive and fraudulent. To adopt a supernatural solution to the problem of the absurd (for example, through some type of mysticism or leap of faith) is to annihilate reason, which in Camus’ view is as fatal and self-destructive as physical suicide. In effect, instead of removing himself from the absurd confrontation of self and world like the physical suicide, the religious believer simply removes the offending world, replacing it, via a kind of metaphysical abracadabra, with a more agreeable alternative.

Choice three (in Camus’ view the only authentic and valid solution) is simply to accept absurdity, or better yet to embrace it, and to continue living. Since the absurd in his view is an unavoidable, indeed defining, characteristic of the human condition, the only proper response to it is full, unflinching, courageous acceptance. Life, he says, can “be lived all the better if it has no meaning.”

The example par excellence of this option of spiritual courage and metaphysical revolt is the mythical Sisyphus of Camus’ philosophical essay. Doomed to eternal labor at his rock, fully conscious of the essential hopelessness of his plight, Sisyphus nevertheless pushes on. In doing so he becomes for Camus a superb icon of the spirit of revolt and of the human condition. To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism.

Your Turn to Practice:

B. Describe the hopeless condition that is portrayed in chapters 6-8.

C. What role does the sand play in creating the hopeless condition?

D. How does the woman and the teacher view her/his condition differently?

E. What is the protagonist’s attitude toward the woman?

Formative Assessment:

How is the sense of ” absurdity” conveyed? How does the man and woman deal with it respectively? Which solution of Camus does his/her action reflect?

Homework: Read and respond to chapters 9 &10.

Lesson 4 

Session 1 : Writing

Objectives: Students will review their symbolism essay and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses; they will read Shaw’s speech on women’s suffrage  and annotate a sample essay.

Aim: What are some of the new strategies can I use to improve my analysis essay?

Do Now: Share PBFF from chapters 4-6. Did your partner follow the 6 steps ? What did s/he try to do? Interpret? Inquire? Digging out the hidden meaning?

Activities:

  1. Hand out Symbolism essay for review and self reflection
  2. Read Shaw’s speech and discuss the devices used.
  3. Annotate the sample essay for writing strategies.

Formative Assessment: Name one specific strategy you have learned today and describe how you can apply it to your own writing.

Homework: Complete the annotation and create an outline for the sample essay. Be sure to include its central idea and how its development is discussed through irony.

Session 2 : Reading

Objectives: Students will analyze how the protagonist tries to grapple with the new reality he is facing.

Aim: How does the protagonist grapple with the new reality ?

Do Now:  

1. Finish the presentations based on the questions assigned from yesterday.

2. Describe the new reality that Nicki Jumpei is thrown into when he wakes up the next day after he was given a place to stay for a night in the dunes with the woman.

Mini Lesson

Describe the psychological stages Niki goes through when facing the impossible condition. For example , he starts by considering it as a ” hallucination” and ” wild fancies”. Then he –

  1. get back to his routine ( break a schedule…lose a lot)
  2. regards the woman’s silence as the passive and irritable ( the silence …is the worst thing)
  3. realizes he was baited and is now trapped ( Why the conspiracy? You baited the trap.)
  4. rebels against the absurdity ( illegal detention)
  5. Hopes his abduction will soon cause investigation ( registered resident)

Continue with the Niki’s psychological and emotional turmoils when facing the absurd conditions.

Assess: How do details convey the various meanings?

Your Turn to Practice:

Make a detailed list to show how the woman reacts to Niki’s psychological and emotional turmoils.

Assess: Based on the details, what can we infer about the woman in the dunes?

Quick Write:  Based on the different reactions Nikie and the woman has toward the situation, what can we we say about our existence( individual, singularity, etc)?

Homework: Read and annotate  Chapters 11 & 12.

 Lesson 5

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will use the outlines they have created based on the sample essay to explain specific analytical skills.

Aim: What kind of analytical steps are used by the student in writing the sample essay?

Do Now: Let’s share the outline we have created based on the sample essay. Add the element you may have missed in the process.

Mini Lesson

What does it mean to analyze?

  • What are the defining parts in the text? How do these parts help me to understand the meaning of the subject as a whole?
  • Look for patterns of repetition and organizing contrasts in the data as well as anomalies. What do they mean?
  • Make suggested meaning of particular details into overt statements.
  • When you describe or summarize or contextualize, attend carefully to the language you choose.

Common Errors to avoid in the analytical process:

  • jump into conclusions
  • making assumptions without providing textual evidence
  • citing textual evidence without explainig explicitly what it means
  • making no connections between the analysis of the details and the overall meaning ( central idea)

Common errors in our analysis essays-

  • lack of a clearly and precisely  stated central idea
  • after identifying a writing strategy, there is no authentic discussion of how the strategy is used to develop the central idea
  • cited specific evidence does not fully support the central idea.
  • the discussion of the strategy and central idea development is not intertwined.

Your Turn to Practice:

Work in pairs and use your knowledge to identify the analytical steps the student has used to develop his central idea.

Assessment: Which analytical step do I need to focus on? How?

Homework: Take a passage from chapters 11-12 and do a PBFF writing. In the writing, you can focus on a couple of steps or all the steps depending on your personal needs.

Session 2 : Reading

Objectives: Students will use textual details to derive at a conclusion about Niki Jumpei’s character and his attitude toward the new situation.

Aim: How does the nature of the communication between Niki and the woman reveal or illustrate certain ideas in existentialism?

Do Now: Cite one detail that stands out for you in chapters 10 & 11. Explain why?

Mini Lesson

Read and discuss-

According to Camus, what’s the best way to deal with , what he calls it, ” a hopeless human condition”? What does this action say about mankind?

Cited from : http://www.iep.utm.edu/camus/#SH5c The Absurd

Even readers not closely acquainted with Camus’ works are aware of his reputation as the philosophical expositor, anatomist, and poet-apostle of the absurd. Indeed as even sit-com writers and stand-up comics apparently understand (odd fact: Camus has been used to explain episodes of Seinfeld and The Simpsons), it is largely through the thought and writings of the French-Algerian author that the concept of absurdity has become a part not only of world literature and twentieth-century philosophy, but of modern popular culture as well.

What then is meant by the notion of the absurd? Contrary to the view conveyed by popular culture, the absurd, (at least in Camus’ terms) does not simply refer to some vague perception that modern life is fraught with paradoxes, incongruities, and intellectual confusion. (Although that perception is certainly consistent with his formula.) Instead, as he himself emphasizes and tries to make clear, the absurd expresses a fundamental disharmony, a tragic incompatibility, in our existence. In effect, he argues that the absurd is the product of a collision or confrontation between our human desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life and the blank, indifferent “silence of the universe.” (“The absurd is not in man nor in the world,” Camus explains, “but in their presence together. . . it is the only bond uniting them.”)

So here we are: poor creatures desperately seeking hope and meaning in a hopeless, meaningless world. Sartre, in his essay-review of The Stranger provides an additional gloss on the idea: “The absurd, to be sure, resides neither in man nor in the world, if you consider each separately. But since man’s dominant characteristic is ‘being in the world,’ the absurd is, in the end, an inseparable part of the human condition.” The absurd, then, presents itself in the form of an existential opposition. It arises from the human demand for clarity and transcendence on the one hand and a cosmos that offers nothing of the kind on the other. Such is our fate: we inhabit a world that is indifferent to our sufferings and deaf to our protests.

In Camus’ view there are three possible philosophical responses to this predicament. Two of these he condemns as evasions; the other he puts forward as a proper solution.

Our first choice is blunt and simple: physical suicide. If we decide that a life without some essential purpose or meaning is not worth living, we can simply choose to kill ourselves. Camus rejects this choice as cowardly. In his terms it is a repudiation or renunciation of life, not a true revolt.

Choice two is the religious solution of positing a transcendent world of solace and meaning beyond the Absurd. Camus calls this solution “philosophical suicide” and rejects it as transparently evasive and fraudulent. To adopt a supernatural solution to the problem of the absurd (for example, through some type of mysticism or leap of faith) is to annihilate reason, which in Camus’ view is as fatal and self-destructive as physical suicide. In effect, instead of removing himself from the absurd confrontation of self and world like the physical suicide, the religious believer simply removes the offending world, replacing it, via a kind of metaphysical abracadabra, with a more agreeable alternative.

Choice three (in Camus’ view the only authentic and valid solution) is simply to accept absurdity, or better yet to embrace it, and to continue living. Since the absurd in his view is an unavoidable, indeed defining, characteristic of the human condition, the only proper response to it is full, unflinching, courageous acceptance. Life, he says, can “be lived all the better if it has no meaning.”

The example par excellence of this option of spiritual courage and metaphysical revolt is the mythical Sisyphus of Camus’ philosophical essay. Doomed to eternal labor at his rock, fully conscious of the essential hopelessness of his plight, Sisyphus nevertheless pushes on. In doing so he becomes for Camus a superb icon of the spirit of revolt and of the human condition. To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism.

Activities:

A. Describe the psychological stages Niki goes through when facing the impossible condition. For example , he starts by considering it as a ” hallucination” and ” wild fancies”. Then he –

    1. get back to his routine ( break a schedule…lose a lot)
    2. regards the woman’s silence as the passive and irritable ( the silence …is the worst thing)
    3. realizes he was baited and is now trapped ( Why the conspiracy? You baited the trap.)
    4. rebels against the absurdity ( illegal detention)
    5. Hopes his abduction will soon cause investigation ( registered resident)

    Continue with the Niki’s psychological and emotional turmoils when facing the absurd conditions.

    Assess: How do details convey the various meanings?

B. Make a detailed list to show how the woman reacts to Niki’s psychological and emotional turmoils.

Formative Assessment: How does the description of each psychological state and the communication between them illustrate a specific idea from Camus’ philosophy of existentialism.

Homework: Find details from chapters 11 & 12 to illustrate the point Niki, although  still trapped, has already started adapting himself to the new life, albeit unconsciously.

Lesson 6

Session 1 : Writing

Objectives: Students will gain clearer understanding how a PBFF writing can generate deeper thoughts about a text, which may lead to further exploration of other ideas such as author’s purpose and central ideas.

Aim:  How does the writing strategy of PBFF help generate deeper and fresher thoughts about a text?

Do Now: Share our PBFF with a partner. Be ready to pick a few sentences from your free writing and share with the class.

Mini Lesson: Use PBFF to raise thoughtful questions about texts we encounter.

Write a PBFF as a response to the following passage-

“The example par excellence of this option of spiritual courage and metaphysical revolt is the mythical Sisyphus of Camus’ philosophical essay. Doomed to eternal labor at his rock, fully conscious of the essential hopelessness of his plight, Sisyphus nevertheless pushes on. In doing so he becomes for Camus a superb icon of the spirit of revolt and of the human condition. To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism.”

Your Turn to Practice:

Based on the question you were assigned to respond, share the response with the class.

B. Describe the hopeless condition that is portrayed in chapters 6-8.

C. What role does the sand play in creating the hopeless condition?

D. How does the woman and the teacher view her/his condition differently?

E. What is the protagonist’s attitude toward the woman?

Formative Assessment:

How is the sense of ” absurdity” conveyed through these these details about the two characters? How does the man and woman deal with the situation differently? Which solution of Camus’ does his/her action reflect?

Homework: Based on the following writing strategies the author uses in portraying the characters and themes of the  novel, what central idea can you draw based on one of the following ( up to chapter 12) and how. List three observations from the novel that illustrate or support your idea.

  1. setting
  2. irony
  3. symbolism
  4. characterization
  5. conflict
  6. personification
  7. imagery

Session 2 : Reading

Objectives: Students will use their close observations of textual details to examine a character and his mental state in the new human conditions ( existence).

Aim: How do we use the observations of a character’s ulterior behavior , such as direct speech or behavior, to determine his inner state?

Do Now: Share our observations and responses to the following-

Describe the psychological stages Niki goes through when facing the impossible condition. For example , he starts by considering it as a ” hallucination” and ” wild fancies”. Then he –

    • get back to his routine ( break a schedule…lose a lot)
    • regards the woman’s silence as the passive and irritable ( the silence …is the worst thing)
    • realizes he was baited and is now trapped ( Why the conspiracy? You baited the trap.)
    • rebels against the absurdity ( illegal detention)
    • Hopes his abduction will soon cause investigation ( registered resident)

2. Share details from chapters 11 & 12 to illustrate the point Niki, although  still trapped, has already started adapting himself to the new life, albeit unconsciously.

3. Read out lout some interesting details from chapters 11 &12.

Assessment: How do details convey the various meanings about the character’s psychological state?

B. Make a detailed list to show how the woman reacts to Niki’s psychological and emotional turmoils ( including chapters 11 $12)

 Formative Assessment: How do the descriptions of Niki’s various psychological states and communications between him and the woman illustrate a specific idea from Camus’ philosophy of existentialism. Do the following-

  1. Single out a quotation by Camus as your point of entrance. Be sure to explain its meaning.
  2. Use the the detailed descriptions of Niki’s  psychological state and the commutation between him and the woman to illustrate the specific idea you have selected by Camus.
  3. Be sure to make connections between the examples and your interpretation of Camus’ quotation.

Homework: Read and annotate Chapters 13 & 14.

Lesson 7

Session 1: Writing 

Objectives: Students will use PBFF to analyze a passage from The Woman in the Dunes

Aim: How does Niki’s past shed light on his character and predicament?

Agenda

Do Now: Assessment Write a PBBF response to the passage on page 64. Use the book.

“Not only had he left without saying a word, but he had deliberately made a point of the mystery. There couldn’t be a more efficient way of teasing his colleagues, glum and gray with their daily gray routine. He sank into an unbearable self-aversion with the thought that among the glum and gray, people other than he had colors other than gray—red, blue, green.

It only happened in novels or movies that summer was filled with dazzling sun. What existed in reality were humble, small-town Sundays… a man taking his snooze under the political columns of a newspaper, enveloped in gun smoke… canned juices and thermos jugs with magnetized caps… boats for hire, fifty cents an hour—queue up here… foaming beaches with the leaden scum of dead fish… and then, at the end, a jam-packed trolley rickety with fatigue. Everyone knows this is fact, but no one wants to make a fool of himself and be taken in; so, on the gray canvas of reality, he zestfully sketches the mere form of this illusory festival. Miserable, unshaven fathers, shaking their complaining children by the shoulder trying to make them say it has been a pleasant Sunday… little scenes everyone has seen in the corner of some trolley… people’s pathetic jealousy and impatience with others’ happiness. ”

Activities:

Share our central ideas:

Based on the following writing strategies the author uses in portraying the characters and themes of the  novel, what central idea can you draw based on one of the following ( up to chapter 12) and how. List three observations from the novel that illustrate or support your idea.

  1. setting
  2. irony
  3. symbolism
  4. characterization
  5. conflict
  6. personification
  7. imagery

Homework:  Write a PBFF as a response to the following passage-

“The example par excellence of this option of spiritual courage and metaphysical revolt is the mythical Sisyphus of Camus’ philosophical essay. Doomed to eternal labor at his rock, fully conscious of the essential hopelessness of his plight, Sisyphus nevertheless pushes on. In doing so he becomes for Camus a superb icon of the spirit of revolt and of the human condition. To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism.”

 Session 2: Reading

Objectives: Students will discuss Niki’s past and gain insights into his character and attitude.

Aim: Why will no one ever notice Niki’s disappearance?

Do Now: Group Formative Assessment:

How do the descriptions of Niki’s various psychological states and communication between him and the woman illustrate a specific idea from Camus’ philosophy of existentialism. Do the following-

  1. Single out a quotation by Camus as your point of entrance. Be sure to explain its meaning.
  2. Use the the detailed descriptions of Niki’s  psychological state and the communication between him and the woman to illustrate the specific idea you have selected by Camus.
  3. Be sure to make connections between the examples and your interpretation of Camus’ quotation.

Mini Lesson: Flashback and past, present and future

From your reading, what do you know about Niki’s past? Make a list of the information you have.

1.From the grim picture Niki paints for us of his past, how can we assume that no one will be looking for him and his predicament in the sand dunes is no worse that his former conditions?

2. What does the news on page 61 tell us about the outside world? How does the nature of outside reality reflect the existential belief that life is only an illusion?

3. What is so special about sand? How does it differ from water although both can flow? Why does the author use the metaphor that  ” the world is like sand”?( 65)

4. “You yourself become sand”. What does it mean?

5. How does Niki feel after looking back at his life before the entrapment that ” his opportunity for escape receded  into the distance”? (66)

Formative Assessment: How do the descriptions of Niki’s various psychological states and communications between him and the woman illustrate a specific idea from Camus’ philosophy of existentialism. Do the following-

  1. Single out a quotation by Camus as your point of entrance. Be sure to explain its meaning.
  2. Use the the detailed descriptions of Niki’s  psychological state and the communication between him and the woman to illustrate the specific idea you have selected by Camus.
  3. Be sure to make connections between the examples and your interpretation of Camus’ quotation.

Homework:  Read and annotate Chapters 15 &16. Prepare a glossary based on the reading ( chapters 1-16). Select two words from the glossary and use construction paper to display each word, its meaning and parts of speech as well as how the word is used ( make a sentence of your own).

Lesson 8

Objectives: Students will develop an essay from any chapter in the novel Woman in the Dunes based on a specific literary element.

Aim: How does the author use specific literary elements to develop a central idea?

Do Now: Share PBFF and use the 6-step rubric to evaluate the writing.

Activities:

  1. Share insightful ideas about the PBFF.
  2. Reflect on the activity. How do you see this activity in the process of writing a successful analysis essay?
  3. Based on the choice each student made about the specific element, the class will work on selecting a specific passage that reflect that choice.
  4. In pars, students write down the literary element/technique on a blank sheet of paper and then research how the writing strategy is described and its role in creating certain effects.
  5. Mid Lesson Assessment: What new ideas did you learn about the writing strategy?
  6. Now, identify 2-3 examples from the passage and do the following
    • what is being described ( denotative meaning)
    • what connotative meaning ( implied meaning) does it have?
    • explain what the author reveals through  such device ( how does the author develop his ideas through the strategy)?

End of the lesson Assessment: How does the author develop his central idea? How is the use of the writing strategy effective?

Homework: Organize the ideas you have worked on today and write a 2-3 paragraphs to present your idea of how Abe uses a specific writing strategy to develop his idea.

 Session 2

Objectives: Students will share the most insightful ideas they have noticed in chapters  14, 15 an 16 and explain how the passages stand out to them.

Aim: How do the passages you have highlighted reflect what you believe or not believe?

Do Now: Read the headlines on page 61. What kind of society or life do they depict? Why?

Activities:

  1. Let’s piece together Niki’s past.
  2. After the attack, what does Niki do to try to escape? Did he succeed? Why not?
  3. How does Niki treat the woman after he fails to escape? How do you describe his new character at this point?
  4. How does the woman react to the brutal treatment Niki gave her? What does it reveal about Abe’s attitude toward women in general?
  5. What specific expressions does Abe use to evoke sympathy from readers when he describes the woman being bound by ropes?
  6. What do Niki’s thoughts into the future reveal?(74-75) Why?
  7. Teacher modeling of reflection on an idea that stands out from the rest:  I highlighted the passage on page 61 beneath the headlines.  The passage is interesting because the author compares life to ” a tower of illusion”, and bricks are illusory and full of holes. The imagery reminds me of a castle in the air, a seeming reality that does not last very long; bricks that made the tower are not real. The author seems to refer the things or aspects in or life are not so real or tangible. They are ready to crumble as indicated by ” holes”. He then compares two attitudes of life- one serious and the other is trifle. He uses a metaphor of ” house of glass” to show his disapproval of handling life too seriously. He then concludes by using another metaphor of ” setting the center of his compass” to suggest the true meaning life is one’s home, which should serve as a center of the world she lives in. People use compass to find directions and here  the world is no longer the reality but a place we go but in the end return to the origin which is our home. It’s interesting to note that Abe reveals Niki to value family life, which to him is the true meaning of life. Does Abe create such contradiction in Niki’s character intentionally or unconsciously?
  8. Work in a group of 4, copy down quotations that stand out for you.Follow the example I have provided to talk about how the passage stands for you and why.
  9. Share your ideas with each other.
  10. As a group, come up with one response: How do the passages you have highlighted reflect what you believe or not believe? ( mid-lesson assessment)
  11. Each group presents ideas and reasons why the quotation is important as well how it reflect what you believe or not believe.( Lesson Assessment)

Homework: Respond to questions 3-6. Read chapters 17 and 18 ( fairly short).

Lesson 9

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will be able to explain the effects and meaning the use of writing strategies can create through a written response to the End of the Lesson assessment.

Aim: How does an author use writing strategies to create effects as well as meaning?

Do Now: Share ideas from your research about a specific writing strategy. What is its definition? What effects can such a strategy create?

Activities:

  1. Share our thorough understanding of each selected writing strategy.  Explain what it is and what are some of the intended effects it may create.
  2. In the passage you have selected from Woman in the Dune, identify two examples where the strategy is effectively used. What effect or meaning does it create? ( Mid-Lesson Assessment) Write a separate paragraph to explain each claim derived from each example.
  3. Synthesize the  two claims and write a complex central idea based on the entire passage.

End of the Lesson assessment: What is the central idea of the passage you have selected to analyze? Does it reflect two claims that have a dialectical relationship or  show some sort of tension? Does each claim result from your writing strategy?

Homework: Finalize your analysis essay. Turn it in typed.

Session 2 : Reading

 Objectives: Students will be able to identify and understand the differences between the struggles of Niki and the woman although their physical experiences are identical in this scene ( chapters 17 & 18).

Aim: How does Niki and the woman suffer differently?

Do Now: Share with a partner your explanation why an expression caught your attention.

Activities

  1. Describe how Niki feels in his new situation after he failed to escape.
  2. What expression does Abe use to show that Niki is hallucinatory from dehydration?
  3. What knowledge put Niki to despair? How does Abe describe his despair? How effective is the use of figure of speech ( simile)?
  4. What expressions does Abe use to describe Nickie as a trapped animal? 
  5. How does Niki situation speak to human conditions and the world we live in?
  6. Describe the woman in this scene.  What does Abe try to convey about the character through the descriptions?
  7. How is the woman’s attitude compared to Niki’s? Why does Abe contrast their attitudes toward the same struggle?
  8. Why does the woman tell Niki no one has ever escaped? How may have the statement affect Niki’s mind??
  9. Here are some expressions for you to discuss. Do you notice any writing strategy used? What does it mean? Is it used effectively? 
  • his head clamped in a hood of dizziness
  • He was a big black fly that thought it had taken flight… Such flies have compound eyes… of sight.
  • mere cog in the working of their daily life.
  • … said in a quiet voice… protective coloring of sand
  • Time was folded in endless, deep… casting them aside.
  • her SUFFERING WAS TRANSMITTED DIRECTLY TO HIM AS IF THEY HAD BEEN CONNECTED BY ELECTRIC WIRES.
  • The level of civilization is … to the degree of cleanliness of the skin…  
  • he was like an animal who finally sees that a crack in the fence… that the glass of the goldfish bowl is a wall.
  • Defeat begins with the fear that one has lost.
  • …his fatigued senses had become like wet paper… Where in God’s name should he start on his equation filled with unknowns?

End of the Lesson Assessment: How do Niki and the woman struggle in his or her own way against the situation he and she are in together? Why does Abe bring out such differences?

Homework: Respond with more details to the End of the Lesson assessment. Read chapter 19.

Lesson 10

Session: Writing

We’ll have individual conferences today. Bring your excerpt and central idea for the conference.

Checklist for the Analysis-

  1. A central idea needs to have two sub claims.
  2. the 2nd part of the sentence in a central idea needs to be the ” sum’ of the two claims.
  3. In the introduction, you will  need  to explain how the author develops the central idea.
  4. Be sure to connect meaning with the writing strategy.

Essay is due by the end of the day (11:59 p.m.), typed.

Session 2 : Reading

Objectives: Students will gain new insights into each character in the novel Woman in the Dunes through analyzing their interactions.

Aim: What does the woman mean by claiming that Niki suffers from ” psychological venereal disease”?

Do Now: Finish presenting the responses to the questions from yesterday’s lesson.

Activities:

  1. Share and collect the assessments.
  2. Take some questions about the text.
  3. Discuss how effectively verbs are used to describe actions in chapter 19.
  4. Identify details that describe interactions between Niki and the woman.
  5. Infer what new characteristics Abe reveals about each character through the interactions.
  6. In what context does the woman use “psychological venereal disease” to describe Niki? What does it mean? Do you agree with her assessment of Niki? Why or why not?
  7. Why does Abe use the metaphor? How does he reveal Niki’s inner struggle through the technique?

Homework: Read and annotate chapters 20 & 21.

 Lesson 11 ( Unit 3: Japanese Literature- The Woman in the Dunes) Chapters 20 &21

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will be able to identify literary technique or element used in each quotation and argue how effectively each device is used by the author by either supporting the statement or arguing against it.

Aim: How effectively ( or not ) are literary devices used in each quotation? How can you substantiate your argument?

Do Now: In pairs, you will work on two quotations( locate them in the text) . First identify a literary device and argue how effectively or ineffectively it is used for the author to convey his idea to his readers.

  1. …his head clamped in a hood of dizziness…(77)
  2. He was a big black fly that thought it had taken flight… Such flies have compound eyes… of sight(78)
  3. mere cog in the working of their daily life.(78)
  4. … said in a quiet voice… protective coloring of sand(78)
  5. Time was folded in endless, deep… casting them aside(81)
  6. her SUFFERING WAS TRANSMITTED DIRECTLY TO HIM AS IF THEY HAD BEEN CONNECTED BY ELECTRIC WIRES(81)
  7. The level of civilization is … to the degree of cleanliness of the skin…  (82)
  8. he was like an animal who finally sees that a crack in the fence… that the glass of the goldfish bowl is a wall (83).
  9. Defeat begins with the fear that one has lost.(83)
  10. …his fatigued senses had become like wet paper… Where in God’s name should he start on his equation filled with unknowns?(84)

Activities:

  1. Present in class each pair’s findings and argument.
  2. Mini Lesson: Stream of Consciousness
  • a person’s thoughts and conscious reactions to events, perceived as a continuous flow. The term was introduced by William James in his Principles of Psychology(1890).

a literary style in which a character’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions are depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Marcel Proust are among its notable early exponents.

Notes: In literature, stream of consciousness is a method of narration that describes in words the flow of thoughts in the minds of the characters. It is a style of writing developed by a group of writers at the beginning of the 20th century. It aimed at expressing in words the flow of a character’s thoughts and feelings in their minds. The technique aspires to give readers the impression of being inside the mind of the character. Therefore, the internal view of the minds of the characters sheds light on plot and motivation in the novel.
Procedures:
First, let’s read a passage  in Woman in the Dunes  and see how the author, Abe, expresses Nikie’s feelings of desperation and hopelessness through “a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description”-
” To be sure, he himself wasn’t so romantic as to dream of pure sexual relations…. There was no opportunity for his pitiable sex to doff its hat and relax. (93-94)
Your turn to practice:
After reading, respond to the questions:
1. What thoughts and feelings of Niki’s are being revealed in this passage? Don’t simplify the answer. 
2. How are sentences related when each sentence seems to be independent of each other? 
3. Which sentences describe Niki’s current thoughts? His past?
4. How does Niki’s thoughts shift  in past and present giving readers an insight into the complex nature of his character?
5. What new insights do you gain about Niki’s character and his life through the passage written in the style of Streams of Consciousness? 
End-of -the-Lesson Assessment: How effectively or ineffectively does Abe use the device to add more complexity to Niki’s character?
Homework: Use the responses from questions to support your argument.
 Session 2: Reading

Objectives: Students will be able to argue whether Niki’s will is broken or not after he has succumbed to becoming a sand digger, the role he used to despise and hate.

Aim: Why does Niki pick up the shovel and start digging just like the woman in the dunes? Are there any differences between him and the woman in their form and meaning of existence? Do you believe Niki’s will is broken? Why or why not?

Do Now: We’ll review the lesson questions from chapter 19 before we move forward to the next chapter Use your homework for discussion.

  1. Discuss how effectively verbs are used to describe actions in chapter 19.
  2. In what context does the woman use “psychological venereal disease” to describe Niki? What does it mean? Do you agree with her assessment of Niki? Why or why not?
  3. Why does Abe use the metaphor? How does he reveal Niki’s inner struggle through the technique?

Mini Lesson : Character portrayal and its thematic connections

In today’s lesson, we will examine how Niki agrees to play the role of a sand digger that he used to despise. Through Niki’s experiences, we will evaluate whether his surrender to the role demonstrates his loss of will or the strengthening of it.

Activity 1: As a class, let’s gather some facts of what has happened to Niki in chapters 20 & 21. You can use direct quotation(s) or critical summary or paraphrasing to provide the descriptions. We’ll record the ideas on a poster paper.

Activity 2: Individually, identify one event or description that seems to have a connotative meaning. Point out its hidden meaning ( making the implicit explicit).

Activity 3: In a small group, prioritize the top 5 details about Niki and examine what Abe, the author, attempts to tell his readers about Niki.

Activity 4: In a group of 5, evaluate whether Niki’s surrender to the role demonstrates his loss of will or the strengthening of it.

Activity 5 ( End of the Lesson Assessment):  Debate.

Homework: Write a paragraph to state your position and explain why you believe Niki’s surrender to the sand-digging role demonstrates his loss of will or the strengthening of it.

Lesson 12: Chapters 22 &23

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will be able to identify more examples of stream of consciousness , through which they will gain a more insightful understanding of the main character, Niki.

Aim: What are the reoccurring imagery that appear in Niki’s mind? Why?

Do Now: Share the End of the Lesson Assessment from  lesson 11.

 Mini Lesson: syntax- participle phrase vs gerund phrase

Study the syntax in the passage below. How does syntax effect the pace of a writing?

The kettle, lamp, and bottle of cheap sake stood beside his pillow. He raised himself at once on one elbow and rinsed out his mouth, spitting the water into the sunken fireplace( participle phrase). Slowly, relishing the feeling, he moistened his throat. He felt around the lamp, and his hand touched a soft package and some cigarettes and matches. He lit the lamp and put a match to a cigarette; then cautiously he tried a mouthful of cheap sake. His scattered faculties slowly began to arrange themselves.

Your turn to practice:

Find two passages in chapter 22 & 23 respectively and copy them into your notebook. Analyze the syntax of each passage and explain the effect of the use of unique syntax.

End of the Lesson Assessment: Change the syntax of one of the passages and explain how meaning gets altered.

Homework: Take a passage from your own writing and work with its syntax  by combining sentences( complex or compound or participle phrase or gerund phrase etc). Compare the original paragraph with the revised one and explain how its meaning has changed due to the change of syntax.

Session 2 Reading

Objectives: Students will be able to understand Niki’s logic why he must succumb to his current situation by analyzing his views on work as well as his plans to escape from the pit.

Aim: How does Niki view work? Why does he believe he can successfully escape?

Do Now: Share the argument paragraph from lesson 11.

Mini  Lesson: Flashback

Read the passage on page 107  ” When he actually began working, for some reason he did not resist it as much as thought he would… endure the aimless flight of time… The real value of work lies in the strength of self-denial”.

What views are revealed about work ? Why does Abe use the technique of flashback in this passage?

For further studies, on page 109,

  • Whom does Niki compare hhe guard to? Why?
  • How is the setting described as Niki takes a break from work ( page 109 paragraph 2 beginning with “He sat down …to crests of waves”? How do the describe details reflect Niki’s current state of mind?
  • Analyse the stream of consciousness passage from ” supposing they were sound waves…. he who was musing on the strangeness of things here…(109).
  • What does the metaphor of ” one way ticket” and ” round trip ticket” mean? ( 109-110) Read the passage from ” If you want to sing it … were the songs of mankind imprisoned”( 109-110).

Your turn to practice:

  • Identify important thoughts Niki has about his escape in chapter 23.
  • Find the supporting evidence and turn each evidence into an open-ended question.
  • You will ask each other questions in a small group and through the questions, you will gain deeper understanding why Niki believes he can successfully escape.

End of the Lesson Assessment: Write a well-developed paragraph describing Niki’s logic of  agreeing to work with the woman as well as why he believes she can succeed.

Homework: Finish the end of the lesson assessment based on chapters 22 & 23. Read and annotate chapter 24.

Lesson 13 Chapter 24

Session 1 : Writing

Objectives: Students will be able to draw a central idea about the landscape through discussing the effective use of imagery in chapter 23.

Aim: How do the imagery help convey a theme based on the landscape of the village?

Do Now: Share the homework about syntax.

Activities:

  1. Notice and Focus: make a list of imagery that describe the landscape in this chapter ( 8-10 examples).
  2. Among all the examples, do you see repetition, binary or a specific strand that link the imagery?
  3. What does the repetition mean? binary? strand?
  4. Why? What are your explanations of the claims you have made based on the examples?
  5. So what?

End of the Lesson Assessment: What are some of the  themes conveyed through the imagery ?

Homework: Use  ideas from the Notice and Focus and develop them into a full a paragraph beginning with a topic sentence.

Read an example of ” Notice, Focus and Method” workshop

Notice & Focus and Method” Workshop Step 1: What do I notice first in the poem? Make a list of details that stand out for you for any reason, strange, sharp imagery, interesting diction, different use of familiar phrases, unknown diction,  repetition, figurative language, etc

  • Whisky
  • Breath
  • (boy) dizzy
  • Hung on
  • Like death
  • Waltzing
  • Romped
  • (mother) couldn’t unfrown
  • (hand) battered
  • (step) missed
  • (ear) scraped ( a buckle)
  • Beat (time) on my head
  • (palm) caked
  • Waltz to bed
  • Cling ( to your shirt)

Step 2: Focus on the details you have listed, what is your initial impression of the poem? What does the poem seem to describe or emphasize on? Focus on the verbs ( to describe the action) and the relationship between the two characters involved through words that describe each of them respectively.

  1. First impression: the poem seems to be about a drunken father waltzes with his son, but they are not really dancing because he misses steps and the boy’s ears get scraped. The strange thing is the boy clings on to his dad after his father waltzes him to bed.
  2. The physical descriptions of the father is not refined but that of a manual laborer.
  3. The adjectives used to describe the boy seems to have conflicting feelings- dizzy but hung on like death; scraped but cling on. What is really happening in this picture?

Step 3: Ranking: If I have to pick out 5 most important details, what will they be? Rank them.

  1. Waltzing
  2. Whisky breath
  3. (steps) missed
  4. (ears) scraped
  5. Cling (to your shirt)

Step 4: Method ( look for a pattern, or binary-opposing ideas, repetition, motif, different strand of main ideas, making connections)

  • Imagery of the father: drunk, rough, insensitive ( caked hand, whisky breath, beat on my head, romped);
  • Symbolism: waltz is not a dance but uneven feelings or events that happen in the boy’s life ( up and down, knocking down the dishes, etc)
  • Pattern: the negative verbs used imply the mixed feelings the boy has toward his father( missed, romped, scraped, beat, couldn’t unfrown)
  • Binary: opposing ideas ( missed, scraped beat but hung on and cling on)
  • Repetition: hung on, cling on
  • Simile: hung on like death
  • Question: why doesn’t the mother intervene?

Step 5: So What? What is the true meaning of the poem based on the details I have noticed and the analysis I did? What is the central idea of the poem?

Waltz seems to be the symbol of the boy’s relationship with his father, up and down, unexpected and uneven. The father is a drunkard and seems to absent from his son’s life, which makes the boy wait up for a drunk father to come home and even good-humoredly dance with him even though the whisky makes him dizzy. He hangs on to his father “like death”. The simile amplifies his dark and cold but inescapable feelings he has toward his father. He lets his father take him romp around the house, knock down the dishes, displease his mother, hurt him physically but he stills clings on. Is a child’s love for a parent unconditional as such or the father’s absence increases the want of a father role in the boy’s life? Either reason poses an unhealthy relationship between a father and son, in particular for the boy , emotionally and psychologically- the lack of a father role will eventually take tolls on a boy who desperately needs one. In addition to the father-son relationship, the poem touches on a social issue that existed in the 1950s United States where women’s role was reduced to domesticity and no voice in the presence of the men. She couldn’t help feeling upset by the scene yet make no interventions. In the end, through the intense scene of waltzing between a father and son and the portrayal of the voiceless mother, the poem poignantly points out the socials issues that exist in every family- men who work and get drunk and shun from their domestic responsibilities as a father or husband; women who are voiceless and secondary in a family are at the mercy of their men. Domestic violence is not directly portrayed but  on the brink of the unfolding events. All readers have to do is to imagine the next scene.

The simple poem has taken on a historical and social meaning  for decades, forever creating a tableau of a 1950’s American family and the unequal roles women and men played in a patriarchal society.

Session 2 : Reading

Objectives: Students will be to see the paradox in the beauty of landscape and the death it ensues as described in the phrase ” the beauty of sand… belongs to death” through close reading of chapter 24.

Aim: Why does the beauty of sand belong to death, according to Abe?

Do Now: Share our discussion of questions from chapter 22-23 represented by each group.

Teaching Point: Paradox

Read the passage on page 122 beginning  with ” A breeze flipped the towel from his face….” to ” the beauty of death ran through the magnificence of it ruins and its great power of destruction( 123).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the landscape described?
  2. What does it mean  to think of ” life in the holes” and ” the beauty of the landscape”  as not being opposed to each other?

Close Reading Practice:

  1. What does Niki say that ” he could easily understand how it was possible to live such a life”?
  2. You can’t spend time vertically. Comment on the statement.
  3. What kind of mood is created through the descriptions of ” mist”?

Assessment: How is the paradoxical nature of the beauty of the landscape and the danger it ensues portrayed? What effects does the paradox have on the Nicki and the reader respectively?

Homework: How would direct the scene if you were a move director? Create a dramatic scene  based on this chapter. Read chapter 25-26.

Lesson 14

Session 1: Writing- Subjunctive Mood, Noun Clause as subject, stream of consciousness

Objectives: Students will be able to identify sentences in subjunctive mood, noun clause as subject and the purpose of stream of consciousness through reading closely and analyzing chapter 25 text of The  Woman in the Dunes.

Aim: Why does an author use the strategy of stream of consciousness to develop a character or theme?

Resources: Grammar Exercises in chompchomp.com; Grammar Handouts

Do Now: Identify an example of stream of consciousness in cheater 25 and explain how it adds dimension to the portrayal of Niki’s character.

Teaching Point:

1. Moods in verbs

Subjective Mood: If he could just get across the dunes, then it would probably be safe to walk down the road….and if he were to run with all his might, it would take him about fifteen minutes to get to the high way ( 124).

Question: Why is subjunctive instead of indicative mood used in the passage?

2. Noun clause as subject or subject complement

Question: Why using noun clause instead of a simple noun to be the subject? Are there any differences? Why?

What was bad about the sand was that one wasted strength, not because one’s feet sank into it but because there was no resistance (124).

Practice- Identify the subject and verb of the following sentence.

Question: What’ the function of the present participle phrases?

The split of the promontory, as if embracing the village, gradually curved in toward the land, reaching as far as the inlet on the east side and squeezing the village road into a single lane (124).

Practice Close Reading and Assessment-

Read ” But anyway, there was no reason for him to feel any obligation…(125)” to ” And when he saved up some money, he probably bought himself a radio, didn’t he…” ( 128)

Discussion Question: Why does an author use the strategy of stream of consciousness to develop a character or theme as revealed in this passage?

End of the Lesson Assessment: How does Abe use the strategy of stream of consciousness to add another dimension to Nicki’s character, which in turn develops a theme?

Homework: Complete the End of the Lesson Assessment. Create a sentence in subjunctive mood; a 2nd sentence in which noun clause is used as a subject or subject complement.

 Session 2 : Reading LCT Workshop #2

Homework:

  • Create three multiple choice questions based on chapter 23, 24 & 25 respectively. The question should not be literal but connotative and analytical. It can be based on the hidden meaning of a sentence or function of a specific literary strategy or tone or author’s purpose, etc.
  • Read and annotate Chapters 26  of The Woman in the Dunes.

Lesson 15

Session 1 : Writing

Objectives: Students will be able to write sentences in subjunctive mood and using noun clause as subject or subject complement.

Aim: Why does using complex sentences in writing add to the the depth and details of meaning?

Resources: Grammar Exercises in chompchomp.com; Grammar Handouts

Do Now: Share the sentences you wrote for homework assignment from yesterday.

Activities: Reviews

Teaching Point:

1. Moods in verbs

Subjective Mood: If he could just get across the dunes, then it would probably be safe to walk down the road….and if he were to run with all his might, it would take him about fifteen minutes to get to the high way ( 124).

Question: Why is subjunctive instead of indicative mood used in the passage?

2. Noun clause as subject or subject complement

Question: Why using noun clause instead of a simple noun to be the subject? Are there any differences? Why?

What was bad about the sand was that one wasted strength, not because one’s feet sank into it but because there was no resistance (124).

Practice- Identify the subject and verb of the following sentence.

Question: What’ the function of the present participle phrases?

The split of the promontory, as if embracing the village, gradually curved in toward the land, reaching as far as the inlet on the east side and squeezing the village road into a single lane (124).

Practice Close Reading and Assessment-

Read ” But anyway, there was no reason for him to feel any obligation…(125)” to ” And when he saved up some money, he probably bought himself a radio, didn’t he…” ( 128)

Discussion Question: Why does an author use the strategy of stream of consciousness to develop a character or theme as revealed in this passage?

End of the Lesson Assessment: How does Abe use the strategy of stream of consciousness to add another dimension to Nicki’s character, which in turn develops a theme? Use complex sentences in your writing.

Session 2 : Reading 

Review Lesson 13 

Objectives: Students will be able to see the paradox in the beauty of landscape and the death it ensues as described in the phrase ” the beauty of sand… belongs to death” through close reading of chapter 24.

Aim: Why does the beauty of sand belong to death?

Do Now: Share multiple -choice questions you have created based on chapters 23, 24 & 25. What level of question did you ask, literal, inferential, analytical or evaluative?

Teaching Point: Paradox

Read the passage on page 122 beginning  with ” A breeze flipped the towel from his face….” to ” the beauty of death ran through the magnificence of it ruins and its great power of destruction( 123).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the landscape described?
  2. What does it mean  to think of ” life in the holes” and ” the beauty of the landscape”  as not being opposed to each other?

Close Reading Practice:

  1. What does Niki say that ” he could easily understand how it was possible to live such a life”?
  2. You can’t spend time vertically. Comment on the statement.
  3. What kind of mood is created through the descriptions of ” mist”?

Assessment: How is the paradoxical nature of the beauty of the landscape and the danger it ensues portrayed? What effects does the paradox have on the Niki and the reader respectively?

Homework: How would direct the scene if you were a move director? Create a dramatic scene  based on this chapter. Read and annotate chapter 27.

Lesson 16

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will be able to derive at a claim that Niki is deteriorating psychologically through analyzing the use of verbs in chapter 26.

Aim: How does the use of emotional verbs reveal Niki’s psychological deterioration?

Do Now: Share Lesson 15 assessment: How does Abe use the strategy of stream of consciousness to add another dimension to Niki’s character, which in turn develops a theme? Use complex sentences in your writing.

Teaching Points:

Read closely the passages and respond: How do the verbs and verbal phrases (the three types of verbal phrases are participial, gerund, and infinitive phrases) represent Niki’s psychological state? Why?

  1. “…The strain had perhaps lasted too long. His mind suddenly seemed to buckle; in this moment of weakness he even hoped his strength would give out and he world have done with the whole thing” (134).
  2. “…He submitted to his fear with the horrible feeling that all was lost… And so, when voices called to him suddenly from behind, his surprise was all the more shattering. He was completely defeated. Even his feeling of shame vanished like the shriveled ash of a dragonfly’s wing (136)”.

Your Turn to Practice:

From chapter 26, select three sentences that are marked by verbs or verbal phrases, preferably from the beginning , middle and end of the chapter. Once you have identified them,

  • Underline them and explain what they mean
  • Bring out the connotative meanings of these verbs or phrases.
  • Analyze how they are sequenced to reveal Niki’s psychological deterioration when facing the insurmountable obstacle posed by the sand dunes.

End of the Lesson Assessment: Make a claim about Niki’s state of mind based on the verbs and verbal phrases you have identified and analyzed.

Homework: Write a well-organized paragraph in which you explain how the use of verbs and verbal phrases reveal Niki’s psychological deterioration.

Session 2: Reading

Objectives: Students will be able to support the notion Niki’s will has wilted after he is rescued by the villagers from his near death experience.

Aim: How has the near death experience altered Niki? Why?

Do Now: Share the assessment from the last lesson-

How is the paradoxical nature of the beauty of the landscape and the danger it ensues portrayed? What effects does the paradox have on the Niki and the reader respectively?

Teaching Point: Irony, Turning Point

Read the passage starting from ” How dark it was…(136)” to “…nothing more than a punching bag to be knocked around” ( 137).

Discussion questions:

  1. What does ” stock expression” mean?
  2. Why does Niki mean when he states, ” What was the use of individuality when one was on the point of death? “
  3. How does Niki’s thought of ” going on living under any circumstances, even if his life had no more individuality than a pea in a pod” prove his attitude toward the essence of life has changed?
  4. Why does the survival instinct always win in the end? How does it speak to Niki’s will to resist meaningless existence?
  5. What point of view toward existence  does Abe try to address by describing Niki’s struggle?
  6. How do you see Niki’s experience connected to reality? You? Why?

End of the Lesson Assessment: How does the chapter change your view on human will controlling actions?

Homework: Analyze the passage ( 136-137) and discuss how Abe develops his idea through the use of irony.

Lesson 17

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will be able to revise the textual analysis of the passage in chapter 26 ( 136-137) through identifying precise textual details that suggest irony.

Aim:  How does Abe use irony to develop his ideas in this passage?

Do Now: Share some ideas from the 1st draft of the textual analysis, in particular the discussion of irony.

Mini Lesson

  • Be sure to discuss why the example is an irony and how it contributes to the meaning Abe  wants to develop.
  • Make connections between the irony and your claim.
  • What textual details have you used to illustrate or support your claim?
  • Did you explain why the details mean what you claim they mean? Reasoning used?

Work on the revision of the essay-

  1. Is the claim precise?
  2. Did you make connections between the textual details and the strategy?
  3. Refine the sentences by combing or using verbal phrases to make ideas less repetitive.

Homework: Complete the revision of the 2nd draft of the analysis.

Session 2: Reading

Objectives: Students will be able to infer the tragic tone that permeates the aftermath of his escape through diction.

Aim: Why does Abe describe the details of the entanglement between the spider and moth?

Do Now: Identify one detail from chapter 27 and explain why it stood out to you.

Mini Lesson: Allegory

What is allegory? Why does an author use it?

Discussion questions: 

  1. Read chapter 27 and identify words or phrases that convey or carry a tragic overtone.
  2. Is the spider story an allegory? If so, what deep meaning does it reveal?
  3. How does Abe describe the woman’s reaction in the aftermath of Niki’s escape? Why?
  4. Why does Niki feel he and the woman “lick each other’s wounds”? What does he mean by it? Why?
  5. Why does Niki say to the woman that ” there are all kinds of life, and sometimes the other side of the hill looks greener”?
  6. What does Niki mean by stating “What’s hardest for me is not knowing what living like this will ever come to”?
  7. Why does Niki refer to the woman ” the other woman”?

Homework: Read and annotate chapter 28.

Lesson 18

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will be able to write a textual analysis essay by focusing on the writing strategy, irony.

Aim: How do we write about an idea development through irony?

Do Now: Share the 2nd draft of the irony paragraph.

Teaching Points:

Writing about irony

To discern irony is to find-

  • what we think it will happen but what actually happens ( unexpected consequences)
  • what one believes( ideology) and what one does( behavior)  ( inconsistency)
  • what one advocates and what one acts ( hypocrisy)
  • the use of two sets of rules to measure the same issue ( double standards)
  • some sort of gap, contradiction or disparity ( metaphorically)
  • tone (criticize-critical, condemn-show bitterness,  mock-disdainful, accuse- accusatory, moralize, resent-resentful…..

Your revision needs to bring out the following-

  1. In the introduction, there must be a clear statement of how Abe uses irony to develop _________idea. First,.. then…
  2. Write a separate paragraph for each idea development
  3. Use a topic sentence to begin each paragraph
  4. In conclusion, evaluate how the idea Abe has developed in this passage connects to a larger issue in life ( universal truth). In other words, what’s the author’s purpose?

Homework: Complete the 3rd draft of irony essay.

Session 2 : Reading chapter 28

Objectives: Students will be able to determine Nick’s character development through analyzing his internal conflict.

Aim: How does Abe continuously develop Niki’s character after he seems to be trapped permanently  in the sand dunes without any hope to escape?

Do Now: Interpret the quotation ” Loneliness was an unsatisfied thirst for illusion” ( 143).

Teaching Points:

Internal conflict and character development

Authors very often use internal conflict to reveal a deeply troubling issues that matter to a character. Though such a conflict, readers become aware what predicament or plight the character is in and why. Through the internal conflict, readers take sides as to which force seems to be more reasonable, thus engage them in the internal struggle of the character.

Study Questions:

  1. Why does Niki name his trap for the crow ” Hope”?
  2. When Niki sees the ” dancing needle” as ” the center of the world”, what does it reveal about Niki’s new view of what’s important in life?
  3. What is ” Hell of Loneliness”? Describe it.How is it connected to Nicki’s current state of existence?
  4. What does the repetition of ” unable” tell us about Nicki’s feelings?
  5. Why does Niki get hysterical over a horse cartoon?
  6. How is the “space of shadow” described? What’s its connotative meaning?
  7. How does the dialogue Niki imagines having reveal his internal conflict?
  8. What does Abe mean by  stating that ” Abnormality would not come into being if there were no standard or normality”?(146)
  9. In the internal dialogue, what types of existence that Niki is debating truly has meaning?
  10. Why does the other voice talk about the positive side of sand
  11. Interpret: “Patience itself was not necessarily defeat. Rather…to be defeat ( 148).

Lesson Assessment: How does the internal conflict reveal Niki’s plight and his new state of mind?

Homework: Complete the lesson assessment. Read and annotate chapters 29 &30.

Lesson 19

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will reflect on the literary analysis they have written and identify the strengths and weaknesses as by using the rubric and peer or teacher comments.

Aim: What specific areas have I improved in writing a literary analysis? What kind of challenges am  I still facing to do the task?

Do Now: Use the analysis rubric to evaluate your partner’s writing. Circle the traits you see in each category. Afterwards, submit all three drafts of the irony analysis.

Teaching Points: Using a portfolio as a self-assessment tool.

As we are coming to the end of the Japanese literature unit, it’s time for us to celebrate what we have accomplished in this period. We will do a self-examination in the following areas to highlight what we have learned and organize the knowledge in a certain logic.

  1. vocabulary
  2. literary techniques and elements
  3. creative expressions
  4. on demand responses
  5. responses to text-based questions
  6. philosophy-existentialism ( looking back at the concepts we discussed in the beginning of the unit, have you gained new understanding of the philosophical ideas?)
  7. analytical responses ( analysis essays)
  8. argumentative responses
  9. your own observations of the textual details ( annotations)

Your Task: Create a proposal how you will organize your work based on this unit to demonstrate your learning in a portfolio. You can be very creative about the project but must demonstrate a certain logic that explains why you organize the work the way you do.

You will also need to include a preface, table of contents as well as a  Unit Reflection.

In your reflection, you may also respond to some of the questions below-

  • What is the meaning of existence?
  • Do we live to work or work to live? Why?
  • How does sand symbolize erosion of morality and sanity?
  • How is a man trapped anywhere he goes? What does it say about his existence?
  • Why is existence a Sisyphean act?
  • How is the sinister mood portrayed throughout the novel?
  • How does the protagonist’s attitude toward the woman in the novel represent the author’s view toward women?
  • How do we deal with the perpetual conflict  in life between the meaninglessness of resistance and the discovery of meaning out of an extreme (environmental) situation?
  • How do we view Jumpei’s entrapment?
  • How is the  psychological tension of the story created?
  • Some believe The Women in the Dunes is chilling in its depiction of Niki’s capture, psychological torment, and ultimate fate, which leaves the reader with the question, “Am I not trapped as well. Do you agree with the evaluation of the novel? Why or why not?

Resources: Reviews of the novel in Good Reads

Activities: You can talk in a small group of 3 or pairs or work by yourself to create a project proposal.

Homework: Write an explanation for your project proposal ( Preface for your project) and create a table of contents ( typed). Project due on Friday 12/19).

Session 2 : Reading ( Chapter 29 & 30)

Objectives: Students will analyze why Niki’s agreement to the villagers perverse demand further displays his being stripped away any humane traits through the scene in which he struggles with the woman while the villagers watch on.

Aim: Why is the scene ,in which Niki struggles with the woman in order to gain access to the beach while the villagers watch on , a extremely gruesome one?

Do Now: Is there anything in this world that you are willing to give up anything to gain? There are many things in the world we may desire but never have access to. What keeps us from going insane if we can’t get what we want?

Teaching Points: Some believe The Women in the Dunes is chilling in its depiction of Niki’s capture, psychological torment, and ultimate fate, which leaves the reader with the question, “Am I not trapped as well. Do you agree with the evaluation of the novel? Why or why not?

Read the scene and respond to the following Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does Niki find out how the villagers make profits to support their endeavor?
  2. How does he react first? But when informed that he is one of those who receive the benefits from the deception, how does he change his attitude? What does the author reveal through this change in Niki?
  3. Niki first throws the beads on the ground and then helps the woman pick them up. How does the change in attitude reveal his psychological state?
  4. Why does Niki want to see the ocean? What does Abe try to reveal about human beings who are in a similar situation?
  5. What do the villagers demand Niki to do in exchange for his wish to be fulfilled? How does Niki react? How does the woman react? What does the difference in attitudes reveal  the differences between man and woman? Why does Abe emphasize such a difference? How does the difference reveal Abe’s different attitude toward men and women?
  6. Why is the scene so disturbing?What does the phrase ” perverse blankness” mean?(154)
  7. What specific details in this passage reveal that Niki has turned into an animal devoid of all morals psychologically and emotionally? Why?(154)
  8. What does the scene described on page 155 , “bonfires of some nocturnal festival” remind readers of a tribal sacrifice ritual?
  9. When Niki agrees to satisfy the villagers’ demand, has he become one of them? Why or why not?
  10. How is the woman described in this struggle? What does it tell us about Abe’s attitude toward woman?
  11. How does Nicki give up his struggle with the woman?
  12. What does the expression ” melting into the woman’s arms ” indicate who won in the end?Why? What doe Abe try to imply through this scene about man and his existence?
  13. Interpret ” He abandoned himself to her hands as if he were a smooth, flat stone in a river bed. It seemed that what remained of him had turned into a liquid and melted into her body” (156). What are the connotations of the metaphors used in the sentence?

Lesson Assessment: Respond in a paragraph-

  • How do we deal with the perpetual conflict  in life between the meaninglessness of resistance and the discovery of meaning out of an extreme (environmental) situation?
  • How do we view Jumpei’s entrapment?

 Homework: Finish the lesson assessment. Read and annotate chapter 31.

Lesson 20

Session 1: Writing

Objectives: Students will demonstrate their understanding of the characters or themes in the novel The Woman in the Dunes by writing a found poem using some “found” expressions from the novel in a Terza Rima or Shakespearean Sonnet form.

Aim: What rhyme scheme and meter does a Terza Rima poem or Shakespearean sonnet have, respectively? How can use the fixed form to share my understanding of the novel?

Do Now: Each students will share ideas about his or her proposal about the portfolio.

Teaching Points: 

What is Terza Rima?

Terza rima is composed of tercets woven into a rhyme scheme that requires the end-word of the second line in one tercet to supply the rhyme for the first and third lines in the following tercet. Thus, the rhyme scheme (aba, bcb, cdc, ded) continues through to the final stanza or line.

Terza rima is typically written in an iambic line, and in English, most often in iambic pentameter. If another line length is chosen, such as tetrameter, the lines should be of the same length. There are no limits to the number of lines a poem composed in terza rima may have.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose “Ode to the West Wind” is an example of what is sometimes called “terza rima sonnet,” in which the final stanza comes in couplet form

What is a Shakespearean Sonnet?

Here, three quatrains and a couplet follow this rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, efef, gg. The couplet plays a pivotal role, usually arriving in the form of a conclusion, amplification, or even refutation of the previous three stanzas, often creating an epiphanic quality to the end.

Questions to consider when deciding on what topic you will respond to in your poem-

  1. What’s my reaction to the protagonist, Niki Jumpei?
  2. What is my reaction to the woman? the relationship between Niki and her?
  3. What  themes can I draw from the novel?
  4. Do I agree with the author, Abe on his views on existence? Why? 
  5. What’s my assessment of sand in this novel? What does it stand?
  6. What’s my reaction to the villagers?
  7. How do I feel about Niki’s entrapment and his psychological struggle?
  8. How does this novel help me reflect on my own life or life in general?

Your Turn to Practice:

Write a sonnet or Terza Rima to expression your reactions to the novel. You need to include some ” found” expressions from the novel.

Quick Write: What do I feel most strongly about the novel? Why?

Homework: Compose the poem in Terza Rima or Shakespearean sonnet form.

Lesson 21

Session 1: Writing

Objectives:  Students will  be able to reason why they organize their work in a way that demonstrates the knowledge and skills they have gained in the unit by writing a one-paged preface and creating a Table of Contents

Aim: What’s your rationale for organizing the work they way you do? What do you hope your readers will learn about you as a reader, writer and thinker? How will they discern your skills and knowledge gained through the unit?

Do Now: Write a paragraph describing the main idea of the novel The Woman in the Dunes. Your descriptions should reflect what you believe is the most important about the novel and what you have walked away with. You can incorporate this piece into your Preface.

Activities: 

  • Pick a piece that you are most proud of and explain why.
  • Share in groups of 3 and discuss how the unit has strengthen your reading and writing skills as well as the challenging  and fun parts of the unit. Be ready to present the class.
  • Work individually and start organizing your work. You can edit and polish certain pieces that you would like to highlight in your portfolio.

English Portfolio Rubric

Contents/Scores Exceeding Standards
4/A
Meeting Standards
3/B
Approaching Standards
2/C
Below Standards1/D-F
Ideas  Precise and clear Appropriate /clear Indirect/ vague confused
Diction  precise appropriate Basic, inappropriate Incoherent, confusing
Syntax Sound , a variety of Appropriate, some varieties basic inappropriate
Conventions Demonstrate full control with infrequent errors Demonstrate partial control Demonstrate emerging control Demonstrate lack of control
Organization Logical, cohesive,  coherent Acceptable, coherent incoherent No internal structure
Creativity  Display originality Display some originality Basic Lack of originality
Volume of Work  Complete and thorough sufficient appropriate incomplete
Voice  distinctive some basic Lack of voice

Additional Commentaries: ______________________________________________________________________

Homework: Continue working on the portfolio.

 Session 2: Reading

 Objectives: Students will be able to argue for or against the claim that the protagonist, Niki’s delay of escape is due to his loss of will  or discovery of new meaning in the mundane life, by examining the language used in the passage.
Aim: What does the language reveal about Niki’s attitude toward escape? Why does he postpone his escape?
Do Now: Why does Niki feel so elated when he starts working on improving the ” Hope” device?
Activities
Mini Lesson:
Using the strategy of Stream of Consciousness to reveal Niki’s new views of and attitude toward his past and present.
Read the passage from ” He could say precisely the same thing about…” to “… start all over again from the very beginning.” ( 158)
Observe the seemingly disconnected details Niki is conjuring up in his mind. What connects them? Why?
Your turn to practice:
A. Identify details in the chapter. Analyze the details and draw a conclusion as to whether Niki’s delay of escape is due to his loss of will power or discovery of new meaning in the meaningless life of the dunes.
B.Use the Discussion Questions to help  your form a claim:
  1. What does Abe mean when he describes Niki ” he was still in the hole but it seems as if he were already outside…” (158)?
  2. How has the ” sand corresponded to a change in himself…with the water in the sand,  he had found new self”?
  3. Why does the woman look at Niki beseechingly with tears when is carried out but Niki looks away as if he didn’t see her? What does this description reveal about his feelings toward the woman?
  4. When Niki sees the rope ladder, how does he react? Again what is reveal by such a reaction?
  5. How does Niki feel when he finally climbs up the ladder and views the sea? Why doe Abe describe him as being irritated? How may such an unexpected reaction reflect the change in Niki?
  6. When Niki returns to the bottom of the hole, he wants to sob when he hears a tune from the radio. Why? Read the last paragraph on page 160.
  7. Why is Niki described as ” sinking down on his knees and remaining inert, his hands still in the water”? What does the image remind you of? What does it mean? Why?
  8. Analyze the highlighted words and phrases in the passage.  What do they mean denotatively ? Connotatively? What does it reveal about why Niki is no rush to escape that he has been so desperately trying to. ” There was no particular need to hurry about about escaping. On the two-way ticket he held in his hand now, the destination and time of departure were blanks for him to fill in as he wished. In addition, he realized that he was bursting with desire to talk to someone about the water trap. And if he wanted to talk about it, there wouldn’t be better listeners than the villagers. He would end by telling someone- if not today, then tomorrow. He might well put off escape until sometime after that.”
  9. Why is the ending such an irony?

C. End of the Lesson Assessment: Argue for or against the claim that the protagonist, Niki’s delay of escape is due to his loss of will  or discovery of new meanings in the mundane life in the dunes, by examining the language used in the final chapter.

Homework: Expand the argument piece to a page or two. Your reasons can only come from the textual evidence you can find in the chapter.

Lesson 22: Extended Learning-A Mini Research Project

Objectives: Students will be able to argue whether their discernment about the Japanese culture and its people as depicted in the novel The Woman in the Dunes is true or fictional by completing a mini research project on Japan in the 1950s and present day.

Aim: What have you learned about the Japanese culture and its people through research and studying the novel The Woman in the Dunes?

Resources:

  1. Occupation and Reconstruction of Japan, 1945–52
  2. Protest Art in 1950s Japan
  3. Japan in the 1950S
  4. Post Occupation Japan
  5. 1950s Japan to today

Do Now: Through the portrayals of the characters in the novel, The Woman in the Dunes, what inferences can we make about Japanese people,  its society, culture, in particular, work ethic?

Teaching Points

  1. Villagers: collectivism, survivors, self-protective , crude, lawless
  2. Woman: submissive
  3. urban dwellers: isolated, bound by social contracts, indifferent, apathetic
  4. Japanese people: hard working, dedicated, social pressure, isolation, grieving

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was it like in Japan in 1950s?
  2. What were Japanese people’s concerns in 1950s?
  3. Is the portrayal of the villagers totally fictional? Why not? Whom do they reflect in reality?
  4. How does the description of the setting in the novel remind readers of Haiku moments?
  5. How does the writing itself remind one of a Japanese painting?
  6. What’s the Japanese society like today? Are there any differences between urban and country life? How?
  7. Has Japanese people’s work ethic changed? How?
  8. If one claims that the Japanese society is a highly pressured one, what does it mean? Do you agree? Why?
  9. Why does Japan have the highest suicide rate?
  10. Do you believe the novel still speaks to the issues that exist in today’s Japan? Why?
  11. What questions do you still have about Japanese culture or its people?

Your Turn to Practice:

In a group of 3 to 4, share with one another any knowledge you may have about Japan through media,art, literature or any other medium. Make a list of what you know.

Then share with each other, ” What I still don’t know but want to find out about Japan and its people”?

Make a list of specific questions you would like to ask and do research about.

Your Task:

Do research on Japan’s past and present to gain knowledge about its society, culture and people, Find facts that describe Japan in the 1950s and identify  details in the novel, The Woman in the Dunes, that seem to illustrate or support Japanese culture and people of that the post war Japan. Also identify facts about today’s Japan and its people that seem to be either consistent with or different from the past. Identify details from he novel that either support or contradict the notion that Japanese culture and people remain the same although time has changed. Your purpose of this research assignment is to prove whether the conclusion you have drawn from the novel about Japanese culture and people remain true or have changed.  For your researched essay, be sure to-

  1. Identify details about Japanese society and people in the novel and make three claims based on the evidence.
  2. Use facts you will find from research to prove that the facts about Japanese culture and people are true or fictional. Explain.
  3. Based on your assertions about 1950s Japan, do they still hold truth in today;s Japan? Use facts to argue for or against your own assertions on whether the culture in Japan has changed or remains fundamentally the same.

Structure of the Essay

  1. Introduce the three claims about Japan in the Introduction.
  2. In the 1st body paragraph, use  the details from the novel to explain where your claims are from.
  3. Write a 2nd body paragraph to prove whether the claims you have made about the Japanese culture and people are true or fictional by using facts you have gathered from research on 1950s Japan.
  4. Write a 3rd body paragraph to argue whether the claims that have held true have changed or remain the same. Use facts you will have gathered from your research about today’s Japan to support or refute the claims.
  5. State what you have learned about Japan from this unit and research project. are your questions answered?

The essay needs to be typed with a works cited sheet. Due 1/5/2014.

 

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