Creative Non-Fiction

Lesson 1

Objectives: Students will analyze how Mencken conveys his satirical tone toward Americans in the 1920s by identifying the writing strategies he employs in the essay.

Aim: How does Mencken convey his satirical tone in the essay?

Do Now: What’s a satire? What characterize Saturday Night Live?

Mini Lesson

  1. What defines satire? How do we identify it in a literary work?
  2. For what purposes do we use satire in our writing?
  3. On Satire (

Read the 1st paragraph of On Being American by Mencken ( 1922) and do the following-

  1. Define bolded words
  2. Look up the allusions in blue
  3. Examine the sentences in red. What purposes do they serve?
  4. Identify an example of exaggeration, compare and contrast, specific type of diction, allusion and humor.

All the while I have been forgetting the third of my reasons for remaining so faithful a citizen of the Federation, despite all the lascivious inducements from expatriates to follow them beyond the seas, and all the surly suggestions from patriots that I succumb. It is the reason which grows out of my mediaeval but unashamed taste for the bizarre and indelicate, my congenital weakness for comedy of the grosser varieties. The United States, to my eye, is incomparably the greatest show on earth. It is a show which avoids diligently all the kinds of clowning which tire me most quickly — for example, royal ceremonials, the tedious hocus-pocus of haut politique, the taking of politics seriously — and lays chief stress upon the kinds which delight me unceasingly — for example, the ribald combats of demagogues, the exquisitely ingenious operations of master rogues, the pursuit of witches and heretics, the desperate struggles of inferior men to claw their way into Heaven. We have clowns in constant practice among us who are as far above the clowns of any other great state as a Jack Dempsey is above a paralytic — and not a few dozen or score of them, but whole droves and herds. Human enterprises which, in all other Christian countries, are resigned despairingly to an incurable dullness — things that seem devoid of exhilirating amusement, by their very nature — are here lifted to such vast heights of buffoonery that contemplating them strains the midriff almost to breaking. I cite an example: the worship of God. Everywhere else on earth it is carried on in a solemn and dispiriting manner; in England, of course, the bishops are obscene, but the average man seldom gets a fair chance to laugh at them and enjoy them. Now come home. Here we not only have bishops who are enormously more obscene than even the most gifted of the English bishops; we have also a huge force of lesser specialists in ecclesiastical mountebankery — tin-horn Loyolas, Savonarolas and Xaviers of a hundred fantastic rites, each performing untiringly and each full of a grotesque and illimitable whimsicality. Every American town, however small, has one of its own: a holy clerk with so fine a talent for introducing the arts of jazz into the salvation of the damned that his performance takes on all the gaudiness of a four-ring circus, and the bald announcement that he will raid Hell on such and such a night is enough to empty all the town blind-pigs and bordellos and pack his sanctuary to the doors. And to aid him and inspire him there are travelling experts to whom he stands in the relation of a wart to the Matterhorn — stupendous masters of theological imbecility, contrivers of doctrines utterly preposterous, heirs to the Joseph Smith, Mother Eddy and John Alexander Dowie tradition — Bryan, Sunday, and their like. These are the eminences of the American Sacred College. I delight in them. Their proceedings make me a happier American.

Assessment: How does Mencken convey his satirical tone in this paragraph? What’s his purpose of using the satire as demonstrated in the 1st paragraph?

Independent Practice:

Use the same method to read closely the rest of the essay. Identify strategies Mencken uses to convey his satirical tone. Be sure to identify-

  1. his claim(s): Of what aspects of politics does Mencken make a mockery?
  2. strategies: How does he successfully convey his contempt for the politicians and their policies?
  3. specific references employed by Mencken: word choice- diction,verbal irony,  allusion, exaggeration,etc.


A. Identify an example of exaggeration, compare and contrast, a specific type of diction, allusion and humor receptively and discuss how the use of these strategies create a satirical tone.

According to

Satire The literary art of ridiculing a folly or vice in order to expose or correct it. The object of satire is usually some human frailty; people, institutions, ideas, and things are all fair game for satirists. Satire evokes attitudes of amusement, contempt, scorn, or indignation toward its faulty subject in the hope of somehow improving it

B. Write a well-developed paragraph on how Mencken successfully satirizes certain characteristics of Americans in the 1920s. Be sure to use specific evidence to back up your argument.

 Lesson 2     How to write a satire?


  2. Five Steps to write a satire
  3. Shouts and Murmur

Objectives: Students will learn the essential techiques to write a satire by first examining some examples for the New Yorker and The Onions.

Aim: How do we write a satire?

Do Now: Read some news in the Onion. What characterizes the “news”?

Mini Lesson 

Read the Exucation Day from the New Yorker. Make a list of characteristics that make the piece a strong satire based on your knowledge.

Share in a small group your observations.

What techniques can we learn from the examples?

  1. Find the “elephant in the room” mad make it visible
  2. Be brutally honest
  3. Use verbal irony ( be ” mean”)
  4. Use the Big/Small Switcheroo ( make the big, small and visa versa)
  5. Make references to the current issue

Student Independent Practice-

  • Choose a new from the major media and turn it into a satire.
  • Pick an opinion or editorial piece and turn it into a satire
  • Pick a current issue and write a satire to bring out the ” elephant” in the issue.

Homework: Complete the satire you have chosen to write.

Lesson 3The Problems that Has No name by Betty Friedan

Objectives: Students will select the best evidence to support a central idea by arguing the importance and relevance of each evidence.

Aim: What is the central idea of the article? What is the best evidence we can use to support it? Why?

Do Now: Share with each other the satire by identifying the “elephant”, one example of “switchroo” , verbal irony, a case of ” brutally honest” and making references to the current issue.

Mini Lesson: 

Read the 1st paragraph of the article of “The Problems that Has No name” by Betty Friedan.  Annotate it while reading. When finished. write a statement describing the central idea. Select three evidence from the article you seem to be most illustrative or supportive for your argument.

Share your central idea.

Argue the evidence.

Independent practice: 

Read the rest of the article and generate a central idea based on the entire article. Select three most important evidence. Explain why.

Homework: Explain how the evidence you have selected complicate or help evolve your thesis. In the meantime, they are connected by your thesis. Also note all three examples exhibit the same writing strategy.

Lesson 4 The Rainy River by Tim O’Brian

Objectives: Students will draw a claim whether or not the narrator has made the right choice in deciding  to comply with the draft by examining his internal struggles and moral quandary.

Aim; Did the narrator make the right choice by complying with the draft? Why or why not?

Do Now: According to the narrator, what make someone a hero? Find the textual evidence to support your assertion. Give a brief summary of the excerpt.

Mini Lesson

Understanding a character-

  1. Gathering facts : what do we know about the narrator?
  2. Go deeper: what mental state is the narrator in? What do we know about his emotional and psychological state?
  3. How does the narrator describe the old man? What does it reveal about his character or state of mind?

Student Independent Practice

  1.  List all the facts you know about Tim O’Brian
  2. Find textual evidence to show why he considered himself a” coward” because he went to the war.
  3. Make a claim on: Did the narrator make the right choice by complying with the draft? Find three pieces of evidence to support your point of view.

Homework: Complete the independent practice. Read Text #6: To Room Nineteen by Doris Lessing ( from pages 526-540)





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *