• Friday, March 13

    1. Begin to draft your essay.

    2. Prompt: 

    1973. An effective literary work does not merely stop or cease; it concludes. In the view of some critics, a work that does not provide the pleasure of significant closure has terminated with an artistic fault. A satisfactory ending is not, however, always conclusive in every sense; significant closure may require the reader to abide with or adjust to ambiguity and uncertainty. In an essay, discuss the ending of a novel or play of acknowledged literary merit. Explain precisely how and why the ending appropriately or inappropriately concludes the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.

    3.  Be sure to develop a line of reasoning as you respond to the prompt given above. Collect textual evidence that supports your thoughts. Write a thesis statement that links to one of the themes and/or Naturalism. Present textual evidence but do not let it overwhelm your paper. At least 3/4 of your essay should be in your own words. You will begin to write your essay in class but will have the weekend to continue your work. The essay will be due Sunday by midnight, a minimum of 500 words.

    4. Themes:

            a.) transition/change resulting in loss and exile, 

            b.) inevitable social conflict and resultant alienation, 

            c.) the journey or quest for an enlightened existence in one’s true “country”

            d.) the role of myth or mythmaking

    HW: You must complete and submit your essay to GoogleClassroom by midnight Sunday.


    Thursday, March 12

    1. Please join AP Lit in GoogleClassroom using code: g2oqpnp

    2. In the event of school closure, I would continue to teach this course through GoogleClassroom.

    3. Day 3 of our Seminar. 

    4. Tomorrow, you will begin to respond to the following prompt in class:

    1973. An effective literary work does not merely stop or cease; it concludes. In the view of some critics, a work that does not provide the pleasure of significant closure has terminated with an artistic fault. A satisfactory ending is not, however, always conclusive in every sense; significant closure may require the reader to abide with or adjust to ambiguity and uncertainty. In an essay, discuss the ending of a novel or play of acknowledged literary merit. Explain precisely how and why the ending appropriately or inappropriately concludes the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.

    HW: Prepare for tomorrow. Be sure to develop a line of reasoning as you respond to the prompt given above. Collect textual evidence that supports your thoughts. Write a thesis statement that links to one of the themes and/or Naturalism. Present textual evidence but do not let it overwhelm your paper. At least 3/4 of your essay should be in your own words. You will begin to write your essay in class but will have the weekend to continue your work. The essay will be due Sunday by midnight, a minimum of 500 words.


    Wed., March 11

    1. Day 2 of our Seminar. 


    Tuesday, March 10

    1. Day 1 of our seminar.

    2. Take special note of the last line of this important statement of faith in Catholicism:

    Nicene Creed

    I believe in one God,
    the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.

    I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
    the Only Begotten Son of God,
    born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
    through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
    he came down from heaven,
    and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
    and became man.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
    he suffered death and was buried,
    and rose again on the third day
    in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
    and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
    to judge the living and the dead
    and his kingdom will have no end.

    I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
    who has spoken through the prophets.

    I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
    I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
    and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
    and the life of the world to come. Amen.


    3. Lyrics to one version of the children's lullabye:

    Go to sleep-y, little baby
    When you wake you shall have
    All the pretty little horses
    Blacks and bays, dapple grays
    Coach and six white horses
    Hush-a-bye don't you cry
    Go to sleep-y, little baby

    Way down yonder, down in the meadow
    There's a poor little lambie
    Bees and the butterflies pecking out his eyes
    Poor lambie cried for his mammy
    So hushaby, don't you cry
    Go to sleepy little baby


    HW: Continue to prepare for our seminar. Go deep. Find passages that weren't referenced today. Alfonsa's story and comments offer excellent possibilities. Anything with religious or sacrificial meanings should be considered as should dreams. Read through the lyrics and prayer offered above. Make connections. Reading the handout on Naturalism carefully will also serve you well.

    Reread the following sections with extreme care. 

    • Meeting with Alfonsa 227-241
    • Meeting with Alejandra 248-254
    • Killed doe 282
    • Wedding 284-5
    • Discussion with judge 289-294
    • Jimmy Blevins radio 294-298
    • Abuela’s funeral 300-301


    Monday, March 9

    1. Themes:

            a.) transition/change resulting in loss and exile, 

            b.) inevitable social conflict and resultant alienation, 

            c.) the journey or quest for an enlightened existence in one’s true “country”

            d.) the role of myth or mythmaking

    2. Receive a handout entitled Naturalism in American Literature (go to Handouts for a downloadable copy). Recognize that All the Pretty Horses is written from a Naturalistic perspective. Read andannotate the handout. Note the ways in which the commentary relate to the novel.

    3. Prepare for our Seminar: What makes the last paragraph an appropriate and effective ending to the novel?

    4. Receive a critical essay entitled, "Between the Wish and the Thing the World Lies Waiting" by Vereen Bell. Available through Handouts.

    HW: Prepare for tomorrow's Seminar. What makes the last paragraph an appropriate and effective ending to the novel?

     During the seminar you can earn credit through:

    • providing an insightful comment
    • quoting the novel to substantiate a comment
    • discussing a literary device or technique
    • quoting a critical essay

     You can, therefore, earn up to 4 credits in a single turn.


    Friday, March 6

    1. Chapter IV begins with goodwill shown to JGC as he hitches rides to LaPurisima. This goodwill is in sharp contrast to the ill will of Saltillo Prison. "...and for a long time to come he'd have reason to evoke the recollection of those smiles and to reflect on the good will...for it had the power to heal men and to bring them to safety long after all other resources were exhausted...." (219)


    1. Before meeting with Alfonsa, JGC rode the stallion "and rode through a grove of apple trees...and he picked an apple as he rode and bit into it and it was hard and green and bitter." (226)
      This image recalls the Garden of Eden, for JGC has eaten the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This image also recalls and contrasts with the boys at the beginning of their journey when they rode as if into "a glowing orchard...and ten thousand worlds for the choosing." (30)


    1. "Dreamt of nothing at all" (225). Does this suggest that JGC no longer lives through his dreams?


    1. Alfonsa tells JGC:

           - "I'm prepared to believe that circumstances must have conspired against you. But what is done cannot be undone." (228)

           - "In the Spaniard's heart is a great yearning for freedom, but only his own. A great love for truth and honor in all its forms, but not in its substance. And a conviction that nothing can be proven except that it be made to bleed. Virgins, bulls, men. Ultimately God himself." (230)


          - Her father's belief: "He claimed that the responsibility for a decision could never be abandoned to a blind agency but could only be relegated to human decisions more and more remote from their consequences." (230) A tossed coin was at one time a slug of metal which the coiner chose to place one side up rather than the other. The tossed coin lands on heads rather than tails or vice versa as a result of that decision.


          - For Alfonsa, "the world has been for me more of a puppet show. But when one looks behind the curtain and traces the strings upward he finds they terminate in the hands of yet other puppets, themselves with their own strings which trace upward in turn, and so on." (230)


          - Her disfigurement after losing two fingers changed others' view of her. She withdrew. Gustavo visited to say that "those who have endured some misfortune which is their gift and which is their strength and that they must make their way back into the common enterprise of man for without they do so it cannot go forward...." (235)

          - Francisco Madero's "trust in the basic goodness of humankind became his undoing" (237).

          - Fransisco was killed by Huerta and Gustavo was killed by a mob of counter-revolutionaries.

    "This was the community of which he spoke," Alfonsa comments ironically. 


          - "The closest bonds we ever know are bonds of grief. The deepest community one of sorrow.... In the end we all come to be cured of our sentiments...The world is quite ruthless in selecting between the dream and the reality, even where we will not. Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting." (238)

          - "What is constant in history is greed and foolishness and a love of blood this is the thing that even God--who knows all that can be known--seems powerless to change." (239)

          - About Alejandra, Alfonsa says, "I only know that if she does not come to value what is true above what is useful it will make little difference whether she lives at all. And by true I do not mean what is righteous but merely what is so." (240)

          - "At some point we cannot escape naming responsibility. It's our nature. Sometimes I think we are all like that myopic coiner...determined that not even chaos be outside of our own making." (241)


    1. JGC meets with Alejandra:

                    - "…Her beauty seemed to him a thing altogether improbable” (248).

                    -      “the sadness he’d first seen …while he was contained in that sadness he was not the whole of it” (249).

                    -      After JGC tells her he killed a man, Alejandra asks, “How do I know who you are?” (249)

                    -      “I couldn’t stand for her to have that power. I told him myself.” (250)

                    -      [Alfonsa] tells me I must be my own person and with every breath she tries to make me her person.” (251)

                    -       Alejandra says, “I destroyed everything.” (251)

                    -      “I didn’t know that he (her father) would stop loving me.” (252)

                    - her grandfather died in the Revolution at the corner of Desire and Thought (253)

                    - She says, “I saw you in a dream. I saw you dead in a dream.”(252)

    1. After hearing Alejandra's decision not to leave with him: "He saw clearly how all his life led only to this moment and all after led nowhere at all" (254).  --a wanderer   "...as he lay there the agony in his heart was like a stake" (256). --mirrors the knife in the heart of the cuchillero
    2. The next series of actions as JGC retrieves his horses and holds the captain captive demonstrate the action, heroism, courage, skill, cunning and stoicism associated with movies of the Old West.
    3. After the "Hombres del pais" (283), Men of the country, relieve JGC of the burden of the captain, JGC chooses to kill the smallest doe among a group of deer (282). --recalls the apparent injustice in the death of Blevins yet demonstrates the natural forces of sacrifice that allow for life.
    4. JGC who is sensitive to the dying doe, places his hands on her neck, allowing her to die without fear in her eyes. (JGC has demonstrated this quality of touch in soothing the fear out of horses.)
      10. "He remembered Alejandra and the sadness he'd first seen in the slope of her shoulders which he'd presumed to understand and of which he knew nothing and ...felt wholly alien to the world although he loved it still." (282)
    5. "He thought the world's heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world's pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of divergent equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower." (282)
    6. Remember that nature demonstrates repeatedly throughout the novel, its indifference to human beings as well as creatures: The wind blows hard at his grandfather's funeral; the winds impale birds against the thorns; a lightning storm results in Blevins losing his horse; etc. People are subject to the forces of the natural world. 

    HW: Finish reading All the Pretty Horses. Seminar Question: What makes the last paragraph an appropriate and effective ending to the novel?


    Thursday, March 5

    1. Gather in small groups.

    2. Student-Generated Questions

    1. Is there significance behind the fact that John Grady Coles initials are JC (same as Jesus Christ)?
    2. How does JGC’s interactions with local Mexicans and cowboys after prison compare to those with his inmates?
    3. What could JGC learn from the Mexican children with whom he ate with on his way out?
    4. What is the significance in Alfonsa’s acknowledging her idealism?
    5. Explain the motif of dreams when it comes to Alfonsa.
    6. What is the significance of everyone being kind to John Grady while he is traveling to the ranch?
    7. Why did Alejandra tell her father the truth between her and JGC?
    8. Is the friendship between Gustavo and Francisco similar to that of JGC and Rawlins?
    9. Why does Alfonsa say that a "love of blood" can't be changed?
    10. What is the meaning of the myopic coiner at his press?
    11. What are the parallels between Alfonsa and Gustavo’s relationship and Alejandra and JGC’s relationship? 
    12. How can Alejandra’s aunt and Gustavo’s relationship be characterized?
    13. On page 238, how is the idea of reality versus idealism expressed?
    14. Why does Alejandra’s aunt choose to mention the graphic death of Gustavo to JGC?
    15. What is Alejandra’s aunt’s view of history? 
    16. Why isn’t Alfonsa more sympathetic to Alejandra with her love for John Grady if Alfonsa went through a similar situation when she was younger with her lover, Gustavo Madero?
    17. Why does Alejandra say “I love you. But I cannot.” on page 254?
    18. hat is the significance of the Mexican children’s advice to JGC about love?
    19. On page 231 how is the reality of being poor portrayed?
    20. What is blood a symbol of aside from a religious meaning?
    21. What is the effect of Rawlins saying “I wouldn’t be here if I was supposed to be here”  (214)
    22. Does Alfonsas father truly not love her and how does this thought reflect on her relationship with JGC?
    23. What does "the madness of the Spaniard is not so different from the madness of the creole" mean?
    24. Why does Alejandra give up seeing JGC ever again to get him out of prison?
    25. What is the meaning behind Alfonsa’s experiment metaphor on page 239?
    26. What does JGC’s lack of dreams suggest about his current state of mind and prior experience? (considering Alfonsa’s suggestion that dreams mean something)
    27. What is the significance of JGC crying for the first and only time over his father’s death?
    28. What is the significance of the dead colt on page 225?
    29. What role does the children’s ultimate conclusion, to rely on God, play in the religious motif in the book?
    30. What message does the old man convey as he says "remember that the corn grows by the will of God and beyond there is neither corn nor growing nor light nor air nor rain nor anything at all save only darkness" on page 221?
    31. What does Alfonsa’s story show about the largely overlooked struggle of women?
    32. Why does John Grady
    33. confide in a group of children about his problems?
    34. How does Alfonsa's explanation of her viewpoint solidify a theme of external forces in the novel? Note her suggestion of puppetry.



    Tuesday, March 3

    1. When placed in the jail cell, JGC and Rawlins discover Blevins and learn that he had returned to Encantada to retrieve his gun. In doing so, Blevins shot and killed three people. 

    2. The boys suffer a harsh interrogation and are then transported on a truck elsewhere.

    3. Along the way, Blevins is executed. There is no capital punishment in Mexico, and although Blevins is still a child, the captain takes justice into his own hands, for he is a depraved individual who functions outside the law; he transgresses the limits of the law as though he has the liberty to.

    4. At Saltillo prison, "there ran a constant struggle for status and position. Underpinning all of it...lay a bedrock of depravity and violence...where every man was judged by his willingness to kill." (182)

    5. Emilio Perez, a prisoner, has attained a position of power and influence. He tells the boys, "You cannot stay in this place and be independent peoples....If you don't show faith to me I cannot help you." (188) Perez wishes the boys to pay him in return for protection.

    6. The next morning Rawlins was attacked and seriously injured. After seeking medical help, JGC hears nothing about Rawlins' condition for several days.

    7. Hoping to learn about Rawlins, JGC visits Perez again. Perez tells him, "Evil is a true thing....It goes about on legs. Maybe some day it will come to visit you. Maybe it already has." (195)

    8. JGC obtains a knife afterwards. He is soon attacked by a "cuchillero". Grady stabs and kills him. Grady is seriously injured. (199-202)

    9. After being stabbed, JGC awakens in tremendous pain, alone in a dark room (202). In and out of consciousness over the next three days, he thinks about death, his father and horses. 

    10. JGC's rebirth: "He half wondered if he were not dead and in his despair he felt well up in him a surge of sorrow like a child beginning to cry but it brought with it such pain that he stopped it cold and began his new life and the living of it breath to breath." (203)

    11. Instead of the idyllic dreams of horses, JGC "dreamt of the dead standing about in their bones and the dark sockets of their eyes...wherein lay a terrible intelligence common to all...." (205) 

         Blood sacrifice        ----->       Redemption
      cuchillero's death                           JGC's life
      Blevins' death ($ to buy knife)      JGC's life
      Alejandra's deal w/aunt                 JGC's life                                                

    12. Eventually both JGC and Rawlins are released from prison through Alfonsa having interceded by paying off the authorities. Rawlins decides to return to Texas and JGC decides to return to LaPurisima.

    13. Rawlins looks for reassurance when he asks, "We're a couple of good'ns, ain't we?" He wishes to be on the right side of wrong.

    14. Image of Grady on back of truck:
            -he is riding a truck's flatbed alongside an engine
            -suggests the reality of time and forces out of JGC's control
            -he must accept reality for what it is
            -he resembles "some newfound evangelical being conveyed down out of the mountains"

    HW: Read to the top of p. 257 and write 8 questions. Please indicate the page number if you reference the text. Email your questions to me. 


    Monday, March 2

    1. Form small groups.

    2. Discuss Student-Generated Questions for Part III, pages 179-217:

    1. Describe the conditions of the Mexican prison system as experienced by JGC and R.
    2. Why does the captain tell a story  about when he was younger on page 181?
    3. What does Pérez believe about ‘evil’ (page 194)?
    4. Why does Pérez talk about money on page 195? What is important about what he says?
    5. What is meant by “there was someone there and they had been there and they had not left but there was no one there” on page 203?
    6. What is significant about the last paragraph on page 204?
    7. How does John feel about killing the cuchillero?
    8. Is Perez the starkest foil to John Grady we have encountered?
    9. How has the ordeal changed John Grady and Rawlins?
    10. Why would Alphonsa pay for the release of John Grady and Rawlins? 
    11. How does John Grady's goal of taking back his horses compare with that of Blevins?
    12. When does the McCarthy change the fluidity of his sentences, and why is that significant?
    13. Why is Perez so focused on his idea of the differences between Americans and Mexicans?
    14. How are the conversations between JGC and Perez and between JGC and Alfonsa similar?
    15. What is the significance of the boys final separation at the closing of the third chapter?
    16. What is the significance in the image presented at the end of the chapter?
    17. How does the moral code play a role in this chapter?
    18. What is the significance of this simile comparing JGC and Rawlins to “mendicants” on page 179?
    19. Why do the guards think that Rawlins and John Grady are rich, and why do they expect JGC and Rawlins to bribe them?
    20. Does “The bell in the cathedral tower three blocks away sounded once with a deep, oriental solemnity.”(page 182) make reference to the bell that rung but was not there earlier in the book?
    21. What is the significance of the weather imagery on page 184?
    22. Why does Perez warn JGC "take care with whom you break bread?" (p196)
    23. If there's no death penalty for criminals in Mexico, then why was Blevins killed?
    24. Is John Grady actually in love with Alejandra? Why does he risk returning to the ranch?
    25. Does the captain pity John Grady? 
    26. How do the captain's comments about a man not changing his mind (p181) function?
    27. Does the prison serve as a symbol for something larger?
    28. How are the captain and John Grady foils in their treatment of women? In which ways are they similar?
    29. What does John Grady’s suffering allow him to understand about his father?
    30. Why is the cuchillero referred to as a boy in the beginning of the encounter but a man at the end?
    31. Why does Perez think Americans are "godless"? What does this have to say about society and prejudices? (pg 194)

    HW: Complete Part III of All the Pretty Horses if you have not done so already. 


    Friday, Feb. 28

    1. Form small groups.

    2. Discuss Student-Generated Questions for Part III, pages 153-179:

    1. Is Rawlins correct in blaming JGC for their arrest?
    2. Why is the prison an old school house?
    3. What does Blevins account of what happened after the 3 parted ways say about how Blevins operates under pressure?
    4. What does "he don't have no feathers" mean (when referring to Blevins)?
    5. Why are the girls friendly with John Grady even though they are supposed to be "horse stealers"?
    6. Why was Blevins' young age emphasized when he was being led away to be killed?
    7. Is John Grady being forced into facing reality?
    8. What is significant about Rawlins crying and John Grady referring to him by his first name "Lacey"?
    9. What is the importance of JG saying "The truth is what happened. It aint what come out of somebody's mouth" on page 165? 
    10. How do Rawlins’s and John Grady’s sympathy for Blevins change as they are chained up, going through hell?
    11. What emotions does Blevins' boot evoke in the boys? In the reader?
    12. Rawlins seems to feel pain when he sees Blevins in the jail, but why is his manner still so harsh towards him?
    13. Why does Rawlins tell JGC that he told the captain that they were horse-thieves and murderers when he really didn't?
    14. Why are the girls crying when the boys are loaded onto the truck when they only ever exchanged a couple words?
    15. How come JGC and Rawlins argue with each other and blame each other rather than stick together through the arrest? 
    16. Is the Captain supposed to represent something bigger? He makes up his own narrative and refuses to listen to anything but his own truth. In a way, is he a darker version of JGC?
    17. Is the name “Enchantada” significant in any way?
    18. Why did the guards execute Blevins?
    19. Does the dream JGC had about horses relate to the lullaby the title is?
    20. Why does McCarthy describe the noises outside the prison multiple times?
    21. How do the boys reactions to finding Blevins in the cell compare/contrast?
    22. The description of John Grady's ideal setting on page 161 uses "and" repetitedly like we saw earlier in the novel. Is it in some way ironic that John Grady dreams about horses after he ruined his shot at being able to live out his dream on a ranch?
    23. How does the paradise the boys thought they had found quickly transform into quite the opposite?
    24. Why does the captain not believe JGC and Rawlins, even though they are telling the truth?
    25. Why is Rawlins so emotional through this process and on the verge of tears multiple times, but JGC shows a lack of emotion?
    26. Do we further see John Grady’s moral code when he states “There ain’t but one truth, said John Grady.  The truth is what happened.  It ain’t what came out of somebody’s mouth” (page 168)?

     HW: Finsih reading Part III. Write 8 questions and email them to me. Provide page numbers if you reference the text. 


    Thursday, Feb. 27

    1. The pool table is located in a room with an altar and a life-size crucifix, an incongruous pairing.  

    2. Ironically, Don Hector made his First Communion in this chapel years ago. The sacrament of Communion celebrates the sacrifice of Jesus to redeem all men. It is important to recall Luis's comment, "among men there was no such communion as among horses" (111).

    3. As he played pool, Don Hector talks of Mexican history and Alfonsa as a young woman who may have been engaged to Fransisco Madero's brother but was not permitted to marry him. 

    4. His comments include:

             "One country is not another country"(145). --suggests cultural divides

             "They went to France for their education....All these young people. They all returned full of ideas. Full of ideas and yet no agreement among them." --recalls Luis's comment: No communion among men

             "Beware gentle knight. There is no greater monster than reason" (146). --The allusion to Don Quixote points out JGC's idealism as well as his delusions.  Is reason another human attempt at control? Does life defy human reasoning?

            "Who am I? A father. A father is nothing." (146) --false humility? Why?

             "The French have come into my house to mutilate my billiards game" (146). --an outsider has disrupted his household; coded message 

    5. In an off-handed way, Don Hector informs JGC that he may send Alejandra to school in France.  

    6. Translation for "Digame....Caul es lo peor: Que soy pobre o que soy americano?" (147) Tell me, which is worse, that I am poor or that I am American?" 

    7. When JGC says that "he intended to know her heart," (147) the reader should recall Luis's comment that "the notion that men can be understood at all was probably an illusion (111)." 

    8. JGC and Rawlins are taken from LaPurisima (the Virgin) in handcuffs.

    9. The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha

    Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. A founding work of Western literature, it is often labeled "the first modern novel" and is sometimes considered the best literary work ever written.

    The plot revolves around the adventures of a noble (hidalgo) from La Mancha named Alonso Quixano, who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his mind and decides to become a knight-errant (caballero andante) to revive chivalry and serve his nation, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote's rhetorical monologues on knighthood, already considered old-fashioned at the time. Don Quixote, in the first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story.

    Image: Man Of La Mancha

    HW: Read pages 153 - 179. Write 5 questions and email them to me. 


    Wed., February 26

    1. Discuss the line, "She smiled at him a pitying smile and there was no pity in it" (130). Note the contradiction. To what extent is Alejandra responsible for "breaking" what she loves, just as JGC breaks what he loves?

                           You're fixin to get me in trouble.

                           You are in trouble. (131)

    2. The image of Alejandra disregarding the storm cloud, rain and lightening, demonstrates her confidence and sense of agency. (131)

    3. Discuss Alfonsa's behavior and comments when meeting and playing chess with JGC. Note that JGC misreads her to some extent and that she purposely allows him a false sense of confidence before "trouncing" him. (132-37)

    4. Some notable comments she makes: 

           "They have a long life, dreams....They have an odd durability for something not quite real" (134).     

           "Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real" (135).

           "The names of the entities that have the power to constrain us change with time" (136).

    5. In Mexican history, recognize that Huerta (110) betrayed President Fransisco Madero and that Huerta was part of Madero's administration. Huerta is compared to Judas (a disciple who betrayed Jesus) because he betrayed and killed Madero. 

    6. To what extent is JGC responsible for his (and Rawlins') expulsion from paradise? To what extent does he betray Don Hector from within? To what extent does JGC recognize and accept his culpability?

    7. Alfonsa says, "I want you to be considerate of a young girl's reputation....Here a woman's reputation is all she has." (136)

    8. When JGC states that it doesn't seem right that men can regain their honor but a woman cannot, Alfonsa asserts, "No. It's not a matter of right. You must understand. It is a matter of who must say....In this matter I get to say." (137)

    9. JGC is either evading what he knows, is self-deluded, or is truly uncertain about having "eyes for the spread" (138) or how he responded to Alejandra (139).

    10. Clearly, Alejandra is upset about having others limit her agency when she says, "I'll not be treated in such a manner" (140) and then JGC sees something new in her "and the name of that thing is sorrow" (140). 

    11. JGC submits to her will: "Tell me what to do. I'll do anything you say." (140)

    12. The narrative voice speaks of their first sexual encounter as "Sweeter for the larceny of time and flesh, sweeter for the betrayal" (141), language that suggests the thrill of stepping beyond boundaries and recalls the betrayals mentioned earlier in the text (Huerta and Judas).

    13. Victoriano Huerta was a member of President Fransisco Madero's administration. Huerta led a coup from within and killed Madero, one episode in a series of uprisings that were part of the Mexican Revolution, roughly 1910-1920.

    HW: Read the handout, The Hacienda System and the Mexican Revolution. Don Hecter's family has for generations benefitted from this system. Go to Handouts on the left-hand menu if you need a copy.


    Tuesday, Feb. 25

    1. Don Hector greets JGC with a handshake and puts him in charge of the ranch's horse breeding program, but by the end of the chapter, JGC's hands are in cuffs after the hacendado has called the authorities and are expelled from paradise.

    2. During their conversation, JGC lies twice to Don Hector; they connect, however, through their interest in and knowledge of horses.

    3.JGC "lay looking up at the stars in...the dark vault overhead and he put his hands on the ground at either side of him and pressed them against the earth and...he slowly turned dead center to the world, all of it taut and trembling and moving enormous and alive under his hands" (119) JGC is once again presented with a heightened sense of his importance and entitlement to what the world offers.

    4. Discuss some of Alejandra's personality traits: defiant, passionate, determined, vying for control. 

    5. Note: Alejandra "laughed and called him a mojado-reverso" -- a wetback in reverse, for he crossed over from the US into Mexico illegally.

    6. Don Hector sends Antonio to the US to pay for and pick up a stallion. Note that Antonio encounters troubles that mirror the boys troubles in Mexico. This mirroring highlights the theme of inevitable social conflict.

    7. Antonio "conspired with John Grady in telling the hacendado that the horse needed to be ridden keep it manageable. Because John Grady loved to ride the horse. In truth he loved to be seen riding it. In truth he loved for her to see him riding it" (127).  Another lie as he pursues Alejandra. 

    8. Chapter II exhibits many examples of individuals asserting their will or vying for control that run the gamut from subtle to forceful. Some of these include:
             - JGC breaking the horses
             - JGC lying to Don Hector
             - Alejandra asserting her will over JGC
             - Alejandra's disregard of parental and cultural limits
             - JGC's involvement with Alejandra
             - Alfonsa playing chess with JGC while suggesting her authority
             - Don Hector's "calling the shots" while playing billiards
             - US authorities imprisoning Antonio
             - Don Hector informing against the boys
             - Mexican authorities arresting the boys

    9. Discuss the intensity of the middle paragraph on page 128. John Grady demonstrates the human desire for control and domination, telling the horse (in Spanish), that without him, the stallion has nothing. The English sentence that follows the Spanish does not really make sense but conveys great vitality as it describes the physical workings of the stallion. Perhaps this sentence suggests the ardent nature of the life force, a force that does not adhere to reason. 

    10. The sexual tension of the stallion and mare just after mating is reflected in the use of the word "trembling" and mirrored in the encounter between JGC and Alejandra, wherein Alejandra desires to ride the bare-back stallion (129-130). 

    HW: Reread pages 129 -146. 


    Monday, Feb. 24

    1. Meet in small groups to discuss the following questions.

    2. Student-Generated Questions on Part II of All the Pretty Horses:

    1.  How is JGC's romantic nature evident thus far?
      2. How is idealism and reality portrayed within the novel?
      3. Does Alejandra really like JGC or does she like the idea of being a rebel and not following orders?
      4. What is significant about Rawlins saying that women are more trouble than they're worth?
      5. Does Alejandra represent an unclear divide between reality and fantasy, and if so, how?
      6. How can we characterize Alejandra?
      7. Why is Alejandra forbidden to be with JGC?
      8. How does John Grady's incident with Alejandra a parallel with Blevins's incident with his horse?
      9. Overall how would one describe JG and Alejandra's relationship?
      10. What does dueña Alfonsa say about a person's past? What analogy does she use?
      11. How could one describe JG's feeling after his conversation with dueña Alfonsa? Provide evidence.
      12. Why does Duena Alfonsa tell John Grady that she does not want John Grady and Alejandra to ride without adult supervision? Why does she care so much about her grandniece's reputation?
      13. How does John Grady know Alejandra likes him back?
      14. What does McCarthy mean by "Real horse, real rider, real land and sky and yet a dream withal?"
      15. How is Alejandra characterized as she goes against her great aunt's wishes and sneaks out to ride with John Grady?
      16. Why does John Grady ask "you think he's huntin us?" when the three greyhounds appear? Does this mean that Don Hector knows what is going on between John Grady and Alejandra?
      17. Why were they taken away by soldiers?
      18. Why did the ranchers not take John Grady and Rawlins the first time they came to the ranch but instead the second time? Where are the boys going to be taken and for how long?
      19. What is the importance of the horses in part 2?
      20. What is the importance of games in this chapter ? (Ex. Chess, billiards)
      21. What does Don Hectór mean when he says, "Beware gentle knight there is no greater monster than reason?"
      22. How does this startling end to the chapter show how this place is not as amazing as they thought?
      23. Has Rawlins and JGC’s relationship changed at all?
      24. Could the boys have prevented being taken away?
      25. Are the games JGC is made to play representative of life? Is there an aspect of fate that plays an extreme role, not allowing one to rely solely on skill?
      26. What impact does Don Hector’s emphasis on Christ have on JGC?
      27. Do the boys recognize the significance of the mountains, once a safe haven, being compromised?
      28. Is JGC about to be forever changed, just as his father was? Did Don Hector know about this/set them up?


    Friday, Feb. 14

    1. Take quiz on Part I.

    2. Discuss last night's reading in small groups.

    3. Don Hector possesses what JGC longs for.

    4. In Texas, JGC could not control the loss of the ranch. After arriving at La Purisma, JGC devises a plan to break 16 horses in 4 days to demonstrate his skills. He can be seen as vying for respect, power and control over attaining his goals.

    5. He displays confidence in his skills in mastering the wild horses. 

    6. JGC employs forceful, violent tactics as well as gentle, soft-spoken tactics in breaking the horses. 

    7. As he masters the horses, they lose the sense of "communion" among them as well as their spiritedness. Ironically, JGC destroys the very qualities he cherishes, for JGC longs for connection and "loves the blood and the heat of the blood that runs" through both men and horses. 

    8. Additionally, the horses "stood waiting for they knew not what with the voice of the breaker still running in their brains like the voice of some god come to inhabit them" (105), a line that recalls an earlier event when JGC picked up the skull of a horse (6). The simile, "like some god", suggests the control JGC seeks. 

    9. After they are broken, the horses whinny to one another "as if some one among their number were missing, or some thing" (107).

    10. While in the hills gathering wild horses, Luis, who has worked with horses all his life and rode in the cavalry, shares what he believes:

           - "men believe the cure for war is war"

           - "the souls of horses mirror the souls of men and that horses also love war"

           - "among men there is no communion as among horses"

           - "the notion that men can be understood at all is probably an illusion" (111)

    HW: Finish reading Part II of All the Pretty Horses. Write 10 questions that cover anything in Part II and email them to me.


    Thursday, Feb. 13

    1. How might Blevins and Rawlins function as John Grady’s literary foils? What becomes clearer about John Grady in comparison to/ contrast with the others?
    2. Note: John Grady "contemplated the wildness about him, the wildness within" (60). 
    3. As the boys venture southward, the landscape offers greater challenges. The natural environment demonstrates its indifference to the well-being of the boys as well as other creatures. Note the image on page 73 of the birds that have been impaled on the cactus during the storm.
    4. Rawlins is realistic in suggesting that Blevins is a liability. John Grady, through his sense of right and wrong (idealism?) cannot abandon Blevins. John Grady appears able to turn a blind eye to possible danger. Rawlins demonstrates flexibility in accepting John Grady's inability to leave Blevins behind, an inability one may perceive as admirable. 
    5. As John Grady and Rawlins approach the "paradise" they seek, vaqueros from the ranch identify the boys as caballeros -- horsemen -- based on how they "sat their horses" (93). The boys, therefore, are perceived as they would be pleased to be seen. 
    6. It is important to remember that the boys have reached the promised land only after they have become outlaws in the eyes of Mexican authorities, for they opted to assist Blevins in retrieving his horse from a town called Encantada (Enchanted or Haunted) and are therefore pursued as horse thieves. In contrast to earlier lighthearted comments about being "wanted men", they are in fact wanted men. 
    7. La Purisma is a place where John Grady would be happy to stay for "about a hundred years"(96).
    8. Has John Grady found what he was looking for? The novel is presented as a journey structure with aspects of the mythic quest (grail imagery).
    9. Earlier the narration suggested that in a world without horses, John Grady would sense “something missing for the world to be right or he right in it” (23).

      HW: Read pages 97-121. What plan does John Grady devise and pursue? Why? How does he succeed? What happens to the horses in the process? What notice is taken of John Grady’s efforts? Look for answers to these questions. You need not write something down but be ready to offer your thoughts during class tomorrow.


    Wed., February 12

    1. Receive a list of student-generated questions:

    1.     What is Jimmy Blevin’s backstory?
      2. Who has become the unofficial “leader” of the boys? Why or how so?
      3. How does John Grady characterized due his decision to stand by Blevins and get his horse back even though it might be dangerous?
      4. What is the significance of John Grady stating he would like to stay in the bunk house for “About a hundred years.” (page 96)? 
      5. How does Rawlins feel about Blevins?
      6. Did the boys realistically consider what they would be facing before they ran away?
      7. What is the significance of Rawlins and JGC’s conversation about God in pages 91 to 92?
      8. Why are distant sounds frequently mentioned in the novel?
      9. Describe the kind of friendship the boys have.
      10. At the end of page 96 is JGC still confused between reality and idealism?
      11. Compare and contrast Rawlings and John Grady.
      12. Is JGC truly ardent hearted? Provide evidence.
      13. Are there any clues of events yet to come or foreshadowing during this section?
      14. What is the significance of the thunderstorm?
      15. What is the significance of the simile said my Rawlins, “a goodlookin horse is like a goodlookin woman...” and what do u think JGC thinks of this?
      16. How does JGC treat Blevins compared to how Rawlins does?
      17. Why does McCarthy go into such graphic detail about how they kill and cook the animals?
      18. Who are the Vaqueros?
      19. Where have they traveled to by the end of chapter 1? 
      20. In what ways does the place John Grady and Rawlins arrive at represent what they were searching for?
      21. How does Rawlins’ treatment of Blevins differ from that of Grady’s, and what does it highlight in the differences between their characters?
      22. How does Rawlins and Grady’s curiosity of life after death differ from each other, and what does the contrasting beliefs show about the characters?
      23. Why does McCarthy continuously emphasize the cold weather?
      24. At this point in the novel, are the boys happy with their decision to run away?
      25. How are the lives of John Grady and Rawlins different from ours (what they eat, the way they talk, etc.)? How are they different from the other peoples' lives during this time?
      26. What is the significance of the boys discussing death, heaven and hell? Are they afraid of dying?
      27. Why are all the questions the vaqueros ask them about cattle and horses, but "none about them"?
      28. How do the boys feel more at home in Mexico than they did in Texas?
      29. Is it ironic that the boys were saying they were thieves but they technically are now?
      30. Is there a reason that the people they have been meeting along the way are so trusting of JGC and Rawlins?
      31. Why is Blevins so secretive about his past? Is he hiding something?
      32. Did Rawlins leave any family behind? Does he have any regrets about going on the trip?

    2. In groups, use these questions as you discuss the novel.

    HW: None. However, if you have fallen behind in your reading, use this as an opportunity to catch up.


    Tuesday, Feb. 11

    1. Discuss the paragraph from page 30 that describes the boys as they set out on their horses. 

    2. Note that the paragraph begins with realistic descriptions that include visual and auditory images. 

    3. The 5th sentence presents a realistic element followed by an unrealistic element since stars do not actually "swarm" around anyone. This image presents the stars in motion and the boys at the center of their swarming, as if they are the center of the universe. Perhaps this image suggests the boys' sense of self-importance as they begin their adventure. 

    4. A bell doesn't actually exist yet the "bell...tolled" -- an auditory image related to death.

    5. The "round dais of the earth...carried their figures and bore them up" also suggests the boys' sense of importance through the word choice, "dais", a platform for those being honored.

    6. How are they "like thieves"?  Have they broken boundaries? Are they inclined to disregard rights of ownership or possession?

    7. The "newly loosed in that dark electric" might suggest a backdrop of danger or the unknown combined with a thrilling sense of things as the boys enjoy their newfound freedom.

    8. "a glowing orchard...with ten thousand worlds for the choosing" seems to present nearly endless possibilites, but does it also allude to the Garden of Eden?

    9. The phrase "loosely jacketed against the cold" suggests the boys are ill-prepared for the circumstances they may encounter. 

    HW: Read through page 96 in All the Pretty Horses. Use the questions as a reading guide. Then write 5 original questions that focus mostly on pages 88 - 96. Email your questions to me.


    Monday, Feb. 10

    1. A critic has said, “The narrative of [All the Pretty Horses] carves out a space, perhaps, between the borders of reality and idealism. The problem lies in Grady’s inability to differentiate between the two....”

    2. John Grady
         - is ardent-hearted
         - longs for the past
         - desires the life of a cowboy
         - possesses an affinity for horses

    3. To what extent is John Grady unable to differentiate between reality and idealism?

                "You are inside. Inside you are" (12).  (John Grady insists his father is the same after returning from war and POW camp - naive, idealistic?)

    4. His father also demonstrates some naivete or idealism:

               "How can Shirley Temple be getting divorced?" (13) 

               "She liked horses. I thought that would be enough" (24). 

               "When I was in Goshee I'd talk to her..." (25). - idealized or mythologized his wife while in reality she was ready to give away his clothes

    5. His grandfather states clearly, "Those are picturebook horses" (16). He sees the lack of reality in the depiction of the horses.

    6. John Grady is ardent-hearted: 

               "Yes they are" (10). - John Grady disagrees with Rawlins; women are worth it

               "Not everything" (28).   (...is just talk)  - John Grady believes in the promise of REAL talk

    7. His father is also shown as cynical and uneasy.

               "...the meek shall inherit the earth...not convinced that it's at all that good a thing" (13).

               "We're like the Comanches two hundred years ago. (25) - part of a dying breed, threatened by the new, whatever it may be

    8. In terms of the syntax and structure of the paragraph, recognize progression from rather short sentences, to a longer sentence, and finally to a very lengthy sentence that parallels the expansiveness of which it speaks.

    HW: read pages 30 -59. Use questions 1 -7 as guides for your reading. There's no need to write the answers.

    1. Note that the boys enjoy referring to themselves as bandits. Make a note of the pages on which these references occur.
    2. When asked why they would want him with them, how does Jimmy Blevins reply on p. 45? What happens next?
    3. Once they cross the river, where are the boys?
    4. Was there any driving reason behind the hospitality the boys receive from the Mexican family with the two girls?
    5. What traits and behaviors stand out about Blevins?
    6. Compare and contrast Rawlins’ treatment of Blevins to JGC’s treatment of Blevins.
    7. On page 59 Rawlins uses the word “paradise.” What is the “paradise” the boys are looking for?


    Friday, Feb. 7

    1. Meet in small groups for discussion: 
      1. Why does his mom not let him keep the ranch?
      2. How does JGC feel about his dad smoking?
      3. Why does John Brady refer to his mother as “she”?
      4. Why does John Brady decide to run away?
      5. Describe the relationship between Rawlins and John Brady (as in, how do they act towards each other).
      6. Who’s the he in the “what do you think he’d say if he seen you standing here talkin to me?”
      7. Why are the two boys described as thieves riding off into the night?
      8. Who is Mary Catherine Barnett?
      9. Discuss the nature of JGC’s father’s relationship with his mother.
      10. At this point how can we characterize JGC?
      11. At this point how can we characterize JGC’s father?
      12. Who are Abuela, Luisa and Arturo?
      13. What importance does the snow have? Why is it mentioned so much?
      14. Why was he receiving glances outside the theater?
      15. Do the conversations in Spanish add more disconnect to the story?
      16. What is JGC's relationship with his mom?
      17. What's the importance of Goshee?
      18. Why does his father say the country will never be the same? 
      19. What is Rawlins "ready for"?
      20. Why wont JGC's mother sell him the ranch?
      21. Why does JGC hitchhike to see his mother in a show when they aren't close?
      22. What was the significance of the mother not using Cole as her last name?
      23. Is his father dying or sick? How will this affect his character?
      24. Does John Grady leave his life behind to go back in time to ignore his problems at home and the problems with the ranch?
      25. What does the mentioning of the glass suggest?
      26. Why does his father want JGC and his mother to settle their differences? Does JGC want to?
      27. What does the simile comparing JGC and his father to the Comanches represent?
      28. Why did his grandfather refer to the horses as “picture book horses” and then kept on eating? Are we getting an insight into what his grandfather’s personality and attitude was like?
      29. Was he disappointed with the play his mother was in?
      30. How is JGC characterized?
      31. How does weather relate to the overall mood? ex: snow
      32. Can JGC be considered out of place in San Antonio? How is this representative of the new vs old motif?
      33. What is significant about JGC and his father's ride?
      34. What is the significance of JGC and Rawlins' conversation about being born?
      35. How is the father characterized?
      36. What is the effect of describing the old wreckage JGC and his father see, and subsequently stating that they had to stop at the road until it was clear?
      37. Why does JGC say "I'm already gone"(27)?
      38. How are Rawlins and JGC contrasted through the conversation they have on pages 26 and 27?
      39. What is the significance of describing JGC as "stepp[ing] out of the glass forever"(29)?
      40. What is the significance in JGC having "the notion that there would be something in the story itself to tell him about the way the world was"? What does this reveal about him?
      41. How does JGC feel towards his fate on pages 22-23? Why does he feel this way?
      42. What is the purpose of including so much detail about the weather?
    2. Pages 7-29, if read carefully, allow the reader to understand a great deal about the people in John Grady's life and the quality of relationship he has with each one. 
    3. Discuss John Grady's father and recognize that he was a prisoner of war during WWII, returned a broken man, is quite ill, and has given up hope. 
    4. John Grady relates best to his father through their horse rides. His father gives JGC a new saddle, indicating his father's love for and understanding of his son. 
    5. JGC's mother left when he was 6 months old, returned when he was 3; will sell ranch; pursuing acting and dating another man; divorced JGC's dad. Distant relationship.
    6. Luisa, Abuela, and Arturo, who have worked for the Grady's for years, fill the role of family in JGC's life.   
    7. JGC is a supplicant who

                     - entreats his father to intercede on his behalf

                     - seeks the advice of a lawyer

                     - pleads with his mother to lease him the ranch

                     - asks Rawlins to accompany him into Mexico 

    1. A mythic dimension is presented through references to the Comanche.
    2. JGC says, "I'm already gone" (27), for he has lost connection in Texas:

                     - grandfather dead

                     - father dying

                     - distant mother

                     - loss of ranch

                     - Arturo, Luisa and Abuela will no longer live with him on ranch

                     - Mary Catherine left him for new boyfriend

    1. Conversation with Rawlins on pages 26-27 about never being born if Rawlins' father had not gone to San Angelo, points out the arbitrary nature of existence and lack of human agency or, conversely, emphasizes the ramifications of choice within human agency. 



    Thursday, Feb. 6

    1. Bildungsroman - a novel about the moral and psychological growth of young person. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy can be seen as a bildungsroman. 

    2. McCarthy's writing style includes an abundant use of and as a coordinating conjunction. The words, phrases and clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction are equal in importance. Therefore, McCarthy's style may mimic the reality that a landscape provides no sign posts about the relative value or importance of its components. Values or "truths" are human constructs. 

    3. The Comanche are described as being "pledged in blood and redeemable in blood only"(5). In addition, they are described as a "nation and ghost of nation passing in a soft chorale across that mineral waste to darkness bearing lost to all history and all remembrance like a grail the sum of their secular and transitory and violent lives." (5)

    4. The Holy Grail was the goblet used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Jesus was to die soon after to redeem all sins. The grail in the novel, however, is offered as a secular (non-religious) symbol.

    5. JGC is said to stand "like a man come to the end of something." The image of the horseskull might be partly suggest has come to an end. JGC, we are told, "loves the heat of the blood that ran them" in both horses and men. JGC reveres the ardenthearted, the passionate.

    5. Take 10 minutes to respond to the prompt: How does JGC relate to the setting(s)?


    6.              Old               (passing of time)                      New

              ranches                                                             oil fields

              open spaces                                                      roads, fences

              horses                                                               cars

              pastoral                                                            industrial

              candle                                                              train's headlamp

              quiet                                                                 loud

              grandpa-alive                                                   grandpa-dead

              Comanche                                                        mother

              setting sun                                                        rising sun

              into the west                                                     out of the east


    HW: Review the notes above. Read pages 16-30. Write 8 questions based on these pages and email them to me.


    Wed., February 5

    1. Let's read closely while imagining how a movie would present these opening scenes. What are the visual and auditory details that a movie would present?

    2. Note that the candleflame as well as JGC appear as reflections within glass and that the portaits of his ancestors are framed in glass. The scene is dimly illuminated by a candle and is quite silent and mtionless except for minor disturbances JGC creates through his movements. 

    3. The thumbprint JGC presses into the wax may suggest "identity" or "leaving one's mark" similar to the portraits. 

    4. The interior is cold and dark as is the outdoors. With his hat off, JGC pays his respects to his grandfather whose hair is not combed the way he was prone to do so. Thus far the scene is rather alienating, suggesting disconnection, lack of identity and inability to make much of an impact.

    5. The calf bawling at a distance may suggest discomfort and needs/desires left unfulfilled. 

    6. The ticking clock is the most blatant suggestion of the passing of time but the passge of time is alo evident in the candle stub, the portraits and the soon to be breaking light of dawn. 

    7. Still holding his hat, JGC stands "like a supplicant to the darkness". This image suggests his longing for something. 

    8. The approach and passing of the train creates a HUGE disturbance of light, sound and motion.  Verb choices emphasize how disturbing it is: boring out, howling, bellowing. "Ribald" suggests that its approach is downright rude. Note: it comes out of the east, the direction from which the sun rises. 

    9. The winds that accompany the "norther" are indifferent and disruptive to the funeral, scattering the chairs and making the preacher's words unintelligible. 

    10. In the evening, JGC chooses to ride on the western fork of the old Comanche road. The narration presents imagined images of the Comanches of the past. This description presents a mythic dimension to the narrative.

    HW: Carefully re-read pages 5 through 16. Answer the following questions. Print your answers. 

      1. What does JGC love about horses and men? What does “ardenthearted” mean?

      2. What significant pieces of information can be derived from the conversation between JGC and his father on pages 7-9?

      3. What does JGC want his father to talk to “her” about?

      4. Be on the lookout for bits of information about JGC’s father. The top of p. 13 mentions “dog tags.” Why?

      5. His father refers to a Biblical saying that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” What attitude do the father’s comments suggest?

      6. An oil painting of horses is described on pages 15-16. What does JGC recall his grandfather saying about the painting?

      7. Why does JGC visit a lawyer named Franklin? 


    Tuesday, Feb. 4 

    1. Recently, we have read closely when analyzing poetry, now we will turn our attention to a close reading of prose. 

    2. Prompt: Analyze and characterize the relationship between the setting(s) and the young protagonist, John Grady Cole as presented in the opening paragraphs of the novel. Recognize how Cormac McCarthy suggests this relationship.

    3. Work independently first. 

    4. Then work in a group.


    Monday, Feb. 3

    1. Receive a copy of All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy.

    2. The title of the novel alludes to a baby's lullaby whose lyrics include:

                Hush-a-by, don't you cry

                Go to sleep my little baby. 

                When you wake

                You shall have all the pretty little horses.

    3. The reference implies a promise. Perhaps we all live with notions concerning promises life makes if we behave in certain ways. For instance, you probably believe that if you study and get good grades, you will be admitted to a good college....You will get a good job if you go to a good college....you will have a good life if you get a good job....etc. 

    4. This novel introduces us to a young man whose life seems to have offered him a promise. He was born and raised on a ranch in Texas. 

    5. Begin reading. Read to at least page 20.


    Friday, Jan. 31

    1. Discuss the title in relation to the poem. Recognize incongruities between the title and the poem.
    2. Discuss the ways in which the epigraph relates to the poem. Remember that the epigraph presents the words of a sinner in hell who only tells his story because he believes Dante will not be able to leave hell and his words will therefore never be revealed to the world. Dante does return however.
    3. Begin working our way through the poem and consider each image carefully. The first, of course, is "like a patient etherized upon a table".
    4. Note elements that relate to sexuality: one-night cheap hotels, oyster shells (oysters are considered an aphrodesiac), the metaphoric cat (cats are often associated with female sexuality/sensuality).
    5. By the end of the first stanza, it seems Prufrock is on the verge of a question, but he pulls back from it, "To lead you to an overwhelming question.../ Oh, do not ask What is it?", as if he is ashamed, uncertain or afraid.
    6. The rhyming couplet, "In the room the women come and go/ talking of Michelangelo", appears to echo the social expectation, nicety, distraction and shallowness of "Let us go and make our visit" of the previous line. Lines are isolated; so is Prufrock.
    7. The strong imagery within "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", when considered carefully, reveals a great deal about Prufrock. These images include:
            "I have measured out my life in coffee spoons." 
            "And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,..."
            "To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?"
            "Arms that are braceleted and white and bare/ But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)"
            "Shall I say , I have.../...watched the smoke that rises from the pipes/Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?..."
            "I should have been a pair of ragged claws/ Scuttling across the floors of silent seas."
            "If one settling a pillow by her head should say, That is not what I meant at all;/ That is not it at all."
            "But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:"

          8. Discuss the allusions that include St. John the Baptist (whose head was requested by Salome brought to her upon a platter), Lazarus (who was brought back from the dead) and Hamlet (who desired certainty and stalled without it but finally took action), the Fool (perhaps a figure like Polonius? or a court jester like Yorick) 

    1. Review the fact that allusions may be literary, biblical, historical, mythological, cultural, etc.
    2. Refrains:

    “In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo.”

    “That is not what I meant at all./ That is not what I meant, at all.”

    • Interjections of Prufrock’s insecurities
    • Bleak, metered, and straight-forward
    • Obsessive looping of thoughts; rumination
    1. Discuss the questions Prufrock poses as well as lines that are repeated or repeated with variations. Compare/contrast "Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?" with "Do I dare to eat a peach?"
    2. Recognize the repetition of superficial social niceties and distractions that have routinely filled Prufrock's
    3.  Recognize additional elements that relate to sexuality: the images of a woman's flesh, "crisis".
    4. Why did an early review of Prufrock suggest it had “no relation to poetry”?

           Contributing Factors

    • combines ordinary urban life with broad philosophical questions
    • written in free verse – without regular rhyme or rhythm
    • presents fragmentation of imagery and allusions
    • written in stream-of-consciousness, mimicking the processing of thoughts within the mind
    • includes an irregular rhyme scheme and rhythm
    • jumps from one pattern to another to reflect the speaker’s similarly active consciousness; a carefully composed but superficially chaotic style that mirrors the mind of a neurotic but educated modern individual
    1. T.S. Eliot: an avant-garde poet who considered himself a traditionalist
    • While he pushed the boundaries of what constitutes the appropriate terrain of poetry, he referenced the Western canon of literature and utilized traditional structures within his untraditional work.
    1. The poem concludes with a sestet reminiscent of the concluding six lines of a Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet. In the Petrarchan sonnet, the sestet offers a response or solution to a problem presented in the first eight lines. Does the concluding sestet in "Love Song" offer loss of consciousness as a "solution"? ---"Till human voices wake us, and we drown."
    2. Eliot presents a persona in Prufrock who is educated and riddled with anxiety. Perhaps the modern world has produced this effect in him. To what extent is the Post-Modern world in which we live, having a similar effect on us?


    1. Review all of the notes above and below on "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". 

    2. Write a 300-word, well-constructed paragraph in which you characterize J. Alfred Prufrock while referencing:

                  - at least one strong image

                  - at least one allusion

                  - at least one refrain

                  - at least one rhetorical question

    as well as using or referencing at least four (4) of the following:








                  word choice (diction)


                  free verse





                  social setting




                  dramatic monologue

    Be certain to fully edit your paragraph. Print in Times New Roman, 12-point font. Double-space.


    Thursday, Jan. 30

    1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    Student-Generated Questions

    1. What is Prufrock’s attitude towards taking risks?
    2. What type of person is J. Alfred Prufrock?
    3. What is the role of women in the poem?
    4. To what extent is the poem actually a love song like the title states it is?
    5. Why does the poet decide to separate "Do I dare / Disturb the universe?" into two lines, and what effect does it have?
    6. What kind of rhyme scheme does the poem have, and what is the effect?
    7. How do rhetorical questions function in this poem, and how do they contribute to the tone?
    8. Why does Elliot make an allusion to Hamlet?
    9. How does the description of "cheap hotels" and "sawdust restaurants with oyster shells" contrast with the title of the poem?
    10. What is the significance of the mermaids and what do they symbolize?
    11. How old is the speaker?
    12. What are some of the significant images? What do they suggest?
    13. Does Prufrock live a hellish life, or is he in Hell?
    14. Why is the phrase, “there will be time” repeated in the poem?
    15. What expectations are created by the title of the poem? Are those expectations fulfilled throughout the poem? 
    16. What does J. Alfred Prufrock’s name connote? From what class of society do you think he comes from? 
    17. What does the metaphor of the yellow fog being compared to a cat provide to the poem?
    18. Why is the phrase "I have known them all already" repeated? 

    2. Begin large group discussion.  

    3. Receive a copy of an essay by Donald R. Fryxell. 


    Wed., January 29

    1. Work in small groups to discuss the answers you reached for questions 1-15 about "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" last night. 

    2. Next, answer the remaining questions together.

    HW: Write a set of 8 questions about "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and email them to me. 


    Tuesday, Jan. 28

    1. The inner-self and consciousness is a central concern of Modernism.
    2. T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) is considered by many to be the most important poet in the post WWI world of panicky fear, fragmentation and dehumanization. 
    3. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is written as a dramatic monologue in free verse.
    4. Dramatic Monologue - a piece in the form of a speech or narrative by an imagined person, in which the speaker inadvertently reveals aspects of their character while describing a particular situation or series of events.
    5. Stream of Consciousness – A technique in which the narrative follows the logic and flow of a character’s (or multiple characters’) thought processes –associations, tangents, seemingly strange transitions – rather than a more ordered narrative approach.   
    1. Free Verse - poetry that does not have a regular rhyme or a regular rhythm 
    1. Epigraph - a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme.


                                      "If I but thought that my response were made

                                      to one perhaps returning to the world,

                                      this tongue of flame would cease to flicker.

                                      But since, up from these depths, no one has yet

                                      returned alive, if what I hear is true,

                                      I answer without fear of being shamed."

                                                                -Guido Montefeltro (from the 8th circle of hell)

    1. Discuss the epigraph at the beginning of "Love Song," quoted from Dante's Inferno. The Divine Comedy written by Dante Alighieri is a 14th-century

    epic poem in three parts: the Inferno (hell); the Purgatorio (purgatory); and the Paradiso (paradise - heaven).   

    1. T.S. Eliot's inclusion of this epigraph is the first in a series of "high-brow" allusions.

    10. Modernism:

    The term modernism refers to the radical shift in aesthetic and cultural sensibilities evident in the art and literature of the post-World War I period. The ordered, stable and inherently meaningful world view of the nineteenth century could not, wrote T.S. Eliot, accord with ‘the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history.’.. rejecting nineteenth-century optimism, [modernists] presented a profoundly pessimistic picture of a culture in disarray.

    11. Receive a packet of questions that coordinate with the poem. Begin answering the questions.

    HW: Answer questions 1 - 15 in the packet that coordinates with "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".


    Monday, Jan. 27

    1. Receive a Poetry Analysis Question from a former AP Literature exam. 

    2. Use 1/3 of your time to read, annotate and write a thesis in response to the prompt.

    3. Use the remaining 2/3 of your time to write the essay.

    4. Hand in the prompt and the essay. 


    Friday, Jan. 24

     (work on sonnets)


    Thursday, Jan. 23

     (work on sonnets)


    Friday, Jan. 17

    1. Read through a student-generated set of questions:

    1. What’s the purpose of personifying objects such as guns and rifles
    1. Why does the tone shift from the first line to the last (“monstrous anger” versus “tenderness”)?
    2. What caused the youth to be “doomed”?
    3. How is the use of cacophony effective? What is its effect?
    4. What does the pattern of words associated with light supposed to represent?
    5. Does the speaker fear their deaths will be in vain? 
    6. Is there evidence that young boys are dying and no one is truly caring?
    7.  Is this an anti- war poem?
    8. Why don’t the young soldiers receive normal funerals?
    9. Is there a shift in tone? If so, where?
    10. Why are such delicate words such as “flowers” and “tenderness” used in the closing line?
    11. How do the sounds in “The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;” help the readers understand the setting? 
    12. In what way does the imagery of the dying cattle relate to the deaths of humans during battle? 
    13. What is purpose of enjambment during the sentence “Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes/ shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.”? 
    14. Why does Owen use rhetorical questions? What is their purpose and how do they relate to the theme? 
    15. Does the light imagery in “Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes” relate to the candles? 
    16. Is Wilfred Owen the speaker of the poem?
    17. What does the speaker mean when they say, "No mockeries for them now;..."?
    18. What type of structure does this sonnet take on?
    19. Is there a change in direction/ turning point/Volta in the poem?
    20. What does the speaker mean when they say, "No mockeries for them now;..."?
    21. How do elements within the poem relate to the word 'Anthem?'
    22. How does Owen use contrast in the poem?
    23. Why does Owen mention girls at the very end of the poem?
    24. What is the purpose of alliteration used in the poem such as “rifles’ rapid rattle”?
    25. Why is the word “mockeries” used when talking about the prayers and bells back home? 
    26. What is the effect of using personification when describing the weapons? 
    27. What meaning do the bells have?
    28. What do the drawing down of the blinds represent?
    29. Why does he describe the choirs as shrill?
    30. How does the author use the idea of religion throughout the poem?
    31. How does the titles meaning relate to the poem?
    32. What does the type of diction the speaker uses do to the overall tone?
    33. Why does the rhyme scheme change instead of staying in the form of an English Sonnet? Does this go along with the change in setting?
    34. Is the alliteration in "rifles' rapid rattle" onomonopoetic? How does this enhance the auditory imagery of the piece?
    35. Why are the "bells" and "choirs" juxtaposed to the noises heard on the battlefield?
    36. In the last line "each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds" representative of the soldiers dying? Of people not realizing all of the people who are dying (drawing down the blinds to hide it)?

     2. Discuss the poem in small groups. 

    HW: (due Thursday, Jan. 26)

    Per 2: Read and annotate "Since There's No Help" by Michael Drayton. Write 5 questions and email them to me. The poem appears on the sheet of sonnets we have been studying.

    Per 7: Read and annotate "Ozymandias" by Percy Shelley. Write 5 questions and email them to me. The poem appears on the sheet of sonnets we have been studying.

    Per 9: Read and annotate one of the above, depending on which your group chose. Write 5 questions and email them to me.


    Thursday, Jan. 16

    1. Take a reading comprehension quiz. 

    2. Begin to discuss another sonnet, "Anthem for Doomed Youth" by Wilfred Owen.

    3. Consider the title before reading.

    4. After the first reading, what can be said about the setting, siuation and speaker?

    HW: Read "Anthem for Doomed Youth" again and annotate for everything and anything that is on our mnemonic device. Write 5 questions and email them to me.


    Wednesday, Jan. 15

    1. Complete our discussion of "To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph."

    2. Watch a PowerPoint presentation about Sound and Meaning. Recognize the various sound devices poets employ to enhance meaning. 

    3. Complete questions #5 on your Sonnet Worksheet.

    HW: None


    Tuesday, Jan. 14

    1. Complete our discussion of Shakespeare's "That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold".

    2. Begin a discussion of "To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph" by Anne Sexton.


    Monday, Jan. 13

    1. Prepare for the possibility that the AP Poetry Analysis presents two poems that must be compared and contrasted. 

    2. Read and discuss pages 50-7 in textbook.

    3. Receive three handouts: Description of Italian and English Sonnets, Six Sonnets, and Sonnet Worksheet. 

    4. Read and begin to discuss Shakespeare's "That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold".

    5. Note the controlling image, rhyme scheme and single sentence that occur in each of the three quatrains. 


    Friday, Jan. 10

    1. The exploratory pieces you wrote yesterday allowed me to hear you thinking. Thank you. 

    2. Read the sample Exploratory Writing in our textbook, page 43-4. 

    3. Read Developing a Thesis Statement, page 44-5.

    4. Read Organizing a Close Analysis Essay as well as the Sample Stdent Essay, pages 45-8.

    5. Possible Organizing Principles (topics for paragraphs)

    Style Elements:

    1. Vivid images
    2. Classical allusions
    3. Metaphors


    1. Speaker’s attitudes toward basketball
    2. Beauty of the game
    3. Escape from life’s troubles
    4. Transcendence


    1. Lines 1-23
    2. Shift at 24
    3. Lines 34-40

     6. Read and annotate "Fast Break" by Edward Hirsch. Write four questions. 

    HW: Go to AP Classroom online. Select our class. Find the Unit 2 Progress Check. Complete the 15 multiple choice questions.


    Thursday, Jan. 9

    1. Take out looseleaf and your annotated copy of "Slam, Dunk, & Hook".

    2. Explore the meaning of “Slam, Dunk, & Hook” as you discuss the techniques Komunyakaa has employed. The more you manage to integrate the WHAT with the HOW in your commentary, the better. You need not feel obliged to organize your comments. You may move freely among your thoughts. You are writing an exploratory piece that is free-flowing like a journal entry.

    3. Use the entire period. 


    Wed., January 8

    1. Receive a list of student-generated questions about "Slam, Dunk, & Hook". Read and select questions for discussion.

    2. In small groups, discuss the poem. 

    3. Review the Literary Terms handout and make a list of the terms that apply in some way to this poem.

    4. Read and annotate the prompt for HOW and WHAT

    5. Read and annotate for the 3 S's: setting, situation, speaker.  The 3 S's provide a foothold into the piece. 


    Tuesday, Jan. 7

    1. With a partner, list descriptors that apply to Judd Mulvaney. Then list the techniques Oates has employed.

    2. Create class lists that compile the work of the small groups.

    3. Recognize that a close reading during a testing situation will not be nearly so comprehensive; however, also recognize the range of possibilities a piece may offer for analysis.

    4. Read the model student essay. Notice how well the student has integrated a discussion of the WHAT and the HOW. Notice that the comments include many descriptors of Judd Mulvaney as well as many techniques employed by Oates.  

    5. Use the remainder of the class to study literary terms.

    HW: If you didn't get a copy in class today, download and print "Slam, Dunk, & Hook" from Handouts on the lefthand menu. Read and annotate the poem. Write 6 questions and email them to me. 


    Monday, Jan. 6

    1. Participate in an interrupted reading of the excerpt from We Were the Mulvaney's by Joyce Carl Oates.

    2. Discuss the devices but also the effect of the devices on our understanding of Judd Muvaney.  


    Friday, Jan. 3

    1. Receive a copy of a Prose Analysis from a former AP Exam as well as a Mnemonic Device for Analysis. 

    2. Discuss how to approach such a question.

    3. Discuss the Menomonic Device for Analysis.


    Thursday, Jan. 2

    1. Read "A&P" by John Updike. 

    2. Write a paragraph in response to the following: why does Sammy say, "I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter" at the end of the story?


    Wed., December 18

    1. Gather your thoughts about the prompt. Jot down your notes. Find textual evidence. Draft a thesis statement.

    2. Remember that your thesis statement must suggest a big idea or theme that your discussion relates to. Some possibilities include:

                    The Impossibility of Certainty

                    The Complexity of Action and Human Agency

                    The Mystery of Death

                    Performance/ Theatricality

                    The Limits of Ambition

                    Father/Son Relationships

                    Revenge/ Justice


                    What is a Man? / The Warrior Ethos

                    Passion VS Reason

    3. Remember to pre-select textual evidence to integrate into your sentences. Include short bits of lines, not lengthy ones. You may have your book available when writing.

    HW: Tonight has been designated a "No Homework Night". If you need more time to prepare for your essay, you may write your essay on Friday rather than tomorrow. Your choice. However, if you know you won't be in school on Friday, you must write your essay tomorrow.


    Tuesday, Dec. 17

    1. Watch the conclusion of Hamlet.

    2. Meet in groups to discuss questions. 

    3. You will work with peers tomorrow to prepare for writing an essay on Thursday.

    HW:     Read and consider this Essay Prompt:

    In Hamlet, Laertes, Fortinbras, Claudius, and Ophelia can be viewed as literary foils who, when compared and contrasted with Hamlet, help us to see Hamlet more clearly and help to emphasize important ideas in the drama.   

    Examine the ways in which any one of these foils exert, impose, subordinate, and/or question their agency. What forms of machinations, transgressions, submissions, denials, boundaries and awareness do they demonstrate? How does Hamlet compare and/or contrast with this character? What ideas might these parallels or differences relate to and emphasize?

    In preparation for writing your essay, compare and contrast the characters in any of the following categories:

                                                                                Hamlet                                 Foil (select one)



















    Controlled by

























    Monday, Dec. 16

    1. Discuss questions from the worksheet on Act 5, scene 1.

    2. Discuss some of the following:

    Act 5, scene 1 Student-Generated Questions

    1. How does the dark comedy impact the overall feel of the scene? Does it impact the play as a whole?
    2. What is the significance of the word play exchanged between Hamlet and the gravedigger and the fact that Hamlet is the one to have to adjust himself around the gravedigger’s word play?
    3. Does Hamlet actually love Ophelia? How is this contradicted with his competitiveness to somehow "prove" that he loved Ophelia?
    4. How has Claudius' treatment of Gertrude changed over the course of the play?
    5. When Hamlet and the grave digger refer to rotting corpses, how does it relate to corruption in society?
    6. Why does Hamlet have strong obsession over the physicality of death? Why does he ask questions about death?
    7. How does Claudius’s use of the pronoun “your” when referring to Hamlet represent his attempt to distance himself from the responsibility he felt for Hamlet?
    8. Why is it significant that Hamlet and Laertes fight over who loves Ophelia more? Why do they do this after she is dead?
    9. How does Hamlet pretending to not be himself when talking to the clown relate to the theme of spying?
    10. What does Hamlet reflect on after he discovers the skull as his jester?
    11. How are divisions between economic and social classes blurred by death and during Hamlet's conversation with the grave digger?
    12. How do the grave digger's comments about Ophelia suggest that special societal status can corrupt Christian morals?
    13. Why would Hamlet choose Alexander the Great as a mighty historical figure to consider?
    14. What might the grave digger's use of wordplay suggest about his agency?  How does this parallel Hamlet's wordplay?
    15. Why does Laertes want his sister to have a proper Christian burial if he claimed to not care if he goes to hell or not?

    3. Watch four minutes of Act 5, scene 2.

    HW: Write 6 questions based on Act 5, scene 2, pages 109-122. Email them to me. 


    Friday, Dec. 13

    1. Discuss Ophelia's death. What does her means of death say about her agency? 

    2. Receive a worksheet for Act 5, scene 1. Complete in small groups.

    HW: Complete the worksheet for Act 5, scene 1. Then read and annotate Act 5, scene 2. Complete the worksheet for Act 5, scene 2. Visit Handouts on side menu for a downloadable copy.


    Thursday, Dec. 12

    1. Observe the juxtaposition:

    End of Act 4: Death of Ophelia - sensitive handling of the nature of her death

                                                  - pathos, sorrow

                                                  - poetic description

    Beginning of Act 5: Gravediggers - insensitive attitude toward death

                                                  - comic relief

                                                  - dark humor

    1. Receive handout with terms:
    • Comic Relief - A humorous or farcical interlude in a serious literary work or drama, especially a tragedy, intended to relieve the dramatic tension or heighten the emotional impact by means of contrast.
    • Dark comedy/ black comedy - A black comedy (or dark comedy) is a comic work that employs black humor, which, in its most basic definition, is humor that makes light of otherwise serious subject matter.
    • Malapropism - the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example, “dance a flamingo ” (instead of flamenco ).
    • Parody - an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.
    • Repartee - conversation or speech characterized by quick, witty comments or replies.
    • Equivocation - the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth or to avoid committing oneself; prevarication.
    • Pathos - a quality that evokes pity or sadness
    • Sardonic - grimly mocking or cynical as in "sardonic humor"
    • Confidant(e) - one who is trusted and in whom one confides

    3. Watch Act 5, scene 1

    4. Working in small groups, evaluate student-generated questions about Act 5, scene 1. Email the best 8 questions to me. 

    HW: NONE


    Wed., December 11

    1. To what extent do people reshape the meaning of other people's words or actions either as a result of less-than-conscious assumptions or as a result of conscious manipulation of words and actions? Skilled and agenda-driven people may purposely manipulate communication to influence the thinking and behavior of the populace. Claudius, for example, expertly manipulates others.

    2. Claudius, like Hamlet, suggests that human reason distinguishes humans from animals. In lamenting Ophelia's madness, Claudius says, "Divided from herself and her fair judgement,/ Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts;..." (4.5). Hamlet had earlier called people "the paragon of animals" and exclaimed, "How noble in reason..." (2.2)

    3. To say that "we are pictures" if we do not possess reason, seems to suggest a reason for not hearing the meaning behind Ophelia's words. Is she reduced to a spectacle in everyone's eyes? 

    4. Recognize Claudius's manipulation of Laertes through numerous tactics in Act 4.

    5. Recognize that concern for "honor" and "being honorable" may not coincide. For instance, we see that Laertes is concerned about the honor he feels ought to be paid to his father, but simultaneously, Laertes can be viewed as dishonorable in the treachery of his plan to poison the tip of his sword when fencing with Hamlet.

    HW: Read and annotate Act 5, scene 1. Write 5 questions and email to me. 


    Tuesday, Dec. 10

    1. Discuss student-generated questions for Act 4, scene 5:

    1. Why does Gertrude protect others but not herself?
    2. Why doesn’t Claudius immediately tell Laertes it was Hamlet who killed his father
    3. Why was the Queen reluctant to see Ophelia?
    4. Does Ophelia's madness give her liberty to express herself? How does this liberty relate to her past?
    5. Why does Ophelia sing, and what is the meaning of her lyrics?
    6. Does Ophelia's madness give her knowledge, since she repeatedly hints at Claudius's wrongdoings?
    7. Why does Ophelia sing, and what is the meaning of her lyrics?
    8. Why is Ophelia constantly referred to as "pretty lady"?
    9. What is the meaning of the flower imagery?
    10. In what ways are Hamlet and Laertes foils?
    11. How does Claudius use his words to soothe and persuade Laertes?
    12. "Where the offence is, let the great axe fall" How does this relate to the king's request of England?
    13. Does Ophelia's use of the flower diction relate to the unweeded garden motif?
    14. How is it ironic that Claudius compares grief to poison?
    15. How does Laertes´ assumption about the death of his father characterize him and assert that he subscribes to the warrior ethos of Denmark?  What could the people's immediate approval of him suggest?
    16. In what ways is the language Claudius uses with Laertes manipulative?  How does he prime him for anger and revenge?  Does Claudius give Laertes a false sense of free agency?
    17. The way in which Claudius and Gertrude each interact with Ophelia is starkly contrasted.  What might that contrast suggest about the role of women in each other's lives?
    18. What is the significance of Ophelia referring to the men as ladies when she bids them farewell?  Does this in any way mirror Hamlet calling Claudius his mother?
    19. How do the different plants that Ophelia hands out further the association of corruption, infidelity, etc with certain characters?

    HW: None.


    Monday, Dec. 9

    1. Recall the circumstances preceding Hamlet's final soliloquy.

    2. Reread his soliloquy delivered in Act 4, scene 4. Trace the progression that leads to his declaration, "My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth." What emotion propels him?

    3. Watch scene 5. 

    4. Work in small groups to formulate 6 questions about the scene. Email them to me. 

    HW: Read and annotate Act 4, scene 7, pages 94-100.


    Friday, Dec. 6

    1. Watch Hamlet, Act 4, scenes 1-4.

    2. In Act 4, scene 1, Claudius demonstrates his concern for his public image after Hamlet has killed Polonius. 

    3. Gertrude says of Hamlet, "he weeps for what he has done." Is this true? Why does she say this?

    4. Hamlet calls Rosencrantz a sponge who soaks up "the King's countenance, his rewards, his authorities." Hamlet also suggests that Claudius will discard Rosencrantz after squeezing him dry.

    5. Hamlet presents a kind of puzzle when he says, The body is wiith the King, but the King is not with the body. The King is a thing--...Of nothing." Recall the body politic, wherein the king is the head and the people are the body. Paraphrase: The people are loyal to Claudius, but Claudius is not loyal to his people. He is, therefore, a king of nothing. 

    6. In scene 3, Hamlet says that Polonius is at supper. Hamlet degrades Claudius by saying that beggar and king alike will fatten maggots. Furthermore, he shows how "a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar."

    7. Through a brief soliloquy at the end of scene 3, we learn that Claudius has asked England to execute Hamlet upon his arrival. Claudius thereby frees himself of responsibilty (the second prong of agency). Neither Gertrude nor the populace (who love Hamlet) will cast blame, therefore, on him.

    8. In scene 4, Hamlet learns that the Young Prince Fortinbras is leading troops for the sake of regaining a worthless piece of land.   

    9. Hamlet recognizes that fighting over this land cannot be reasoned since iit is like fighting over a straw or an eggshell.   

    HW: Read and annotate Act 4, scenes 5 and 6, pages 86-94.  Also, review class notes. 


    Thursday, Dec. 5

    1. In his closing lines of Act 3, scene 2, Hamlet states, "Now could I drink hot blood,/ And do such bitter business as the day? Would quake to look on." These are fiendish words. He also states, in regard to his mother, "I will speak daggers to her, but use none." 

    2. Claudius's soliloquy clearly exposes his guilt. Now there is no question he is the murderer. His words expose his internal confliction: "like a man to double business bound,/ I stand in pause...and both neglect." He wants to seek foregiveness but does not wish to relinquish his "crown", "ambition", and "queen". 

    3. He wonders if heaven can wash away sins if one keeps what one has gained through their sin. His agency is limited through his uncertainty. 

    4. The concluding couplet is Claudius's self-assessment: "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below./ Words without thoughts never to heaven go."

    5. Hamlet's desire to kill Claudius in this scene is thwarted by Hamlet's reasoning based on the appearance that Claudius is confessing his sins. Does Hamlet merely come up with an excuse; demonstrate thoughtful deliberation; or display a most sinful desire? 

    6. Hamlet is not satisfied to take Claudius's life; rather, he wishes to damn Claudius's soul for eternity.

    7. Of course Hamlet's human agency is limited by his inability to know Claudius's thoughts; that is, Hamlet doesn't know that Claudius isn't repenting. 

    8. Hamlet self-accesses his treatment of his mother in Act 3, scene 4 when he says, "I must be cruel, only to be kind." To what extent do you agree with his assessment of his behavior? 

    9. Critics point to the killing of Polonius as a watershed moment in the play, a turning point. Hamlet has acted uncharacteristically rashly.  His impulsiveness results from an assumption that the male voice belonged to Claudius.  His hamartia - a tragic error in judgment - creates a turning point. 

    10. Hamlet instructs his mother by comparing the images of her former and present husbands. Hamlet accuses her of not using judgment and her sensibilities (those features that make humankind "the paragon of animals"). 

    11. Hamlet's words wound Gertrude, "These words like daggers enter in my ears." Gertrude recognizes the darkness of her soul. He had been determined to "set up a glass/ wherein [she] may see the inmost part of [herself]". (3.4)

    12. Hamlet presses his mother not to blame his words on his madness; that is, he insists she not soothe her soul with this "flattering unction" but rather "Confess [herself] to heaven." Clearly, he wants her to take responsibility for her behavior.

    13. Hamlet returns time and again to instructing his mother not to return to her incestuous marriage bed. His instruction might remind you of Polonius and Laertes instructing Ophelia on her sexuality. 

    14. Curiously, Hamlet states, "heaven hath pleased it so,/...that I must be their scourge and minister." Has heaven mandated Hamlet to carry out punishment?

    15. At the close of Act 3, Hamlet speaks of having to go to England, escorted by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. If you read the imagery of his lines, you will see that Hamlet anticipates mischief against him. Hamlet suggests that he will work that much more deviously to strike at them instead of the other way around.  

    HW: Read and annotate Act 4, scenes 1-4, pages 79-86. Write 5 questions and email them to me. 


    Wed., December 4

    1. Watch Act 3, scene 4 of Hamlet.

    2. Form groups to discuss the following student-generated questions based on pages 69-78:

    1. Are Claudius's prayers genuine?
    2. What is the significance of the fact that Hamlet missed his chance to kill Claudius after it is revealed that Claudius was not able to sincerely pray, and therefore, if he had been killed at that moment, would have been sent to Hell?
    3. Why does Shakespeare have Hamlet murder Polonius as he is preaching to his mother about good and evil?
    4. How is Hamlet a hypocrite when he demands to see his mother’s remorse for her sins?
    5. In scene iii, is Claudius genuine in his desire for forgiveness?
    6. To what extent does Gertrude know of Claudius’s wrongdoings?
    7. Will Hamlet manipulate his childhood friends in England since they tried to do the same to him in the first place?
    8. Does Gertrude’s unquestioning acceptance of Polonius’s plan to trap Hamlet suggest she is submissive to what men tell her?
    9. What is Hamlet’s purpose in confronting his mother?
    10. Why was Hamlet's first reaction to finding out someone else was in the room, to kill them?
    11. Why does Hamlet accuse his mother of killing his father when he knows his Uncle did it?
    12. How do Queen Gertrude’s responses to Hamlet’s actions and stories characterize her?
    13. Why isn't Hamlet bothered by the fact that he just killed someone?
    14. What does the ghost remind Hamlet of?
    15. When Hamlet sees the ghost of his father and states “Save me, and hover o’er me with your wings, you heavenly guards!” is it significant and/or ironic that both he and Claudius have called upon angels for help?
    16. What does Hamlet’s decision to wait to kill the king show about his sense of morality, spirituality, and justice?
    17. Why does Hamlet, a moral warrior, show no remorse when he kills Polonius?
    18. Does Hamlet's action of killing Polonius illustrate his inability to think before he acts and therefore represents a tragic flaw? 

    HW: None. Please catch up if you have fallen behind.


    Tues., December 3

    1. Take a reading comprehension quiz on Claudius's soliloquy.

    2. Discuss with group members and reach concensus on answers. Make your thinking visible to one another. 

    HW: Read and annotate pages 72-78. Write 6 questions based on pages 69-78. Email them to me.


    Mon., December 2

    1. Form groups to discuss the following Student-Generated Questions based on pages 57-68.

    1. What does Gertrude mean when she says: “The lady doth protest too much” and why would Hamlet think this is significant?
    2. What is the significance of Hamlet's conversation about recorders with Guildenstern?
    3. How do Hamlet's interactions with Horatio in this scene differ from his earlier interactions with Guildenstern and Rosencrantz?  What do they suggest about his relationship with Horatio?
    4. What might be the significance of Hamlet speaking in verse with Horatio, but in prose with all the other characters in the scene?
    5. How does the play put on in this scene mirror the events that Hamlet believes to be true?
    6. Can the player’s agency be considered limited by Hamlet?
    7. Does Hamlet’s desire to rid the play from exaggerations, deviations from the true story, mirror his desire for truth in real life? Explain.
    8. “That is not passion's slave… wear him in my heart’s core. (pg. 59)” How is this quote paradoxical in terms of Hamlet’s recent actions, and how might this explain his self-hatred?
    9. Why does Hamlet use deception, tricking his uncle into revealing his secret, when he himself despises facades and false appearances?
    10. How does Hamlet’s sardonic answers to his family and friends both protect and harm him?
    11. How do Hamlet’s comments and diction when talking to Ophelia reflect the way he thinks about her? In what way does this make him no different from Polonius and his treatment of her?
    12. How is it ironic that Gertrude thinks the actress playing the Queen is exaggerating her part?
    13. Why does Hamlet say, "I will speak daggers to her, but use none”?
    14. Is Hamlet justified in his anger towards Rosencrantz and Guildenstern when they ask again about his behavior?
    15. Are Hamlet and the actors comparable in the sense that they have to put on a "disguise" to perform at their greatest?
    16. Why does Hamlet keep taking shots at Gertrude, instead of Claudius, whose fault the whole situation is?
    17. How does the motif of fortune effect the themes of the play?
    18. During the play does King Claudius react out of his guilt, or out of fear in the fact that in the play the nephew killed his uncle?


    HW: Read and annotate pages 68-71 carefully. Tomorrow, you will take a multiple choice quiz based on these pages. 


    Wed., November 27

    1. Watch Act 3, scene 2.

    2. Hamlet instructs the Players: "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action... to hold, as 'twere amirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image..." (3.2).

    3. Hamlet commends Horation for his even-tempered nature, saying, "Give me that man/ That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him/ In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,/ As I do thee" (3.2).

    4. Note that Hamlet speaks crudely and with disrespect to Ophelia in that his comments are full of sexual innuendo. Furthermore, when Ophelia suggests that the prologue to the play is brief, Hamlet remarks, "As woman's love" (3.2).

    5. The lines of the Player King include comments on friendship as well as human agency. See page 63.  He suggests that prople tend to be fair-weather friends and that although we have desires we strive for, our fate is not within our control.

    6. Although the plot of play-within-a-play parallels the murder of King Hamlet as told by the Ghost, one detail is different: Lucianus, who poisons the Player King, is the nephew to the king. Has Hamlet confounded his purpose? Didn't he wish to get a clear read on Claudis's guilt? Has this detail provided a veiled threat that might alo cause Claudius to react?


    HW: None. Happy Thanksgiving!


    Tuesday, Nov. 26

    1. Take out your outline and your copy of Hamlet.

    2. Write your essay.

    HW: Read and annotate pages 57-68, Act 3, scene 2 of Hamlet. Write 6 questions and email them to me.


    Monday, Nov. 25

    1. Watch Act 3, scene 1. 

    2. Note Hamlet's treatment of Ophelia. What prompts him to treat her so harshly? How do you feel about Ophelia and her suffering?

    3. Claudius, recognizing that Hamlet's behavior is not driven by love, determines to send Hamlet away to England.

    4. Polonius, still believing Hamlet's maddness may be a consequence of love denied, plans to spy once again. This time he will hide in Gertrude's chamber while Gertrude speaks to Hamlet. 

    2. Read pages 153-4 in textbook, Integrating a Quotation into Your Own Sentence. Discuss.

    3. See example of topic sentence outline on page 116. 

    4. Seek assistance with your thesis statement from me.

    5. Return to relevant sections of the text. Read closely with your topic in mind. Strengthen your views. Select material to quote in essay tomorrow.

    HW: Perfect your thesis statement. Write your topic sentence outline and make final decisions about material to be quoted. 


    Friday, Nov. 22

     1. Discuss Act 3, scene 1. 

    HW: Complete steps 3 and 4 below. Email your thesis to me at orianic@gcufsd.net  Place your thesis directly into the email.

    Essay Prompt:  

    What are the external and internal forces affecting Hamlet? Why is Hamlet vulnerable to them? How has he responded thus far? How do his responses help to characterize him? To what extent are his responses admirable or not? In what ways do his struggles illustrate the human condition? 

    Step 1: Write an exploratory paragraph of 250 words. Focus on your thoughts, not the quality of your writing. You should seek to be insightful. Link your thoughts to agency, anomie, the warrior ethos, wordplay or any other strong concept we’ve discussed that somehow intersects with your ideas about the above prompt. Linking your thoughts to a significant concept will help you to construct a workable thesis later on. Print your paragraph and bring it to class. 

    Step 2: Voice ideas in class. Gain credit for your comments. Listen to others’ ideas. Develop your ideas in response to what is voiced by classmates.  

    Step 3: Develop an insightful thesis statement. Focus on what you have found interesting and worth discussing. You must narrow your topic sufficiently in order to handle it within an essay written in 42 minutes. 

    Step 4: Search for supportive textual evidence. 

    Step 5: Write a brief outline of the essay you plan to write in class. Place Post-Its in your copy of Hamlet where relevant textual evidence appears.  Do not overwhelm your essay with quotations. Don’t use more than 3 brief quotations. Use ellipses (they allow you to delete irrelevant material) and or brackets (they allow you to add or change a word to provide clarity) if helpful.

    Step 6: Write a well-constructed essay in class. You may use your copy of Hamlet in order to quote accurately. You may also have your thesis statement and a bare-bones outline on your desk while writing the essay.


    Thursday, Nov. 21

    1. What are the external and internal forces affecting Hamlet? Why is Hamlet vulnerable to them? How has he responded thus far? How do his responses help to characterize him? To what extent are his responses admirable or not? In what ways do his struggles illustrate the human condition? 

    2. Voice ideas in class. Gain credit for your comments. Listen to others’ ideas. Develop your ideas in response to what is voiced by classmates.  

    3. Hamlet's use of the word "monstrous" in this soliloquy may point to Hamlet's being amazed by the Player's ability to assume the appearance of passion without a reality that would engender it, but he might also recognize the terrible ability of human beings to project an appearance that does not match reality. Claudius, of course, is certainly capable of this horror.

    4. Hamlet's reasoning, however mad he may seem, leads him to consider the possible demonic nature of the Ghost who might, through his request of Hamlet, damn Hamlet's soul. Is Hamlet merely indecisive or is he demonstrating a reasoned approach to his circumstances?

    5. Hamlet plans to have the Players present a play that mirrors the late King Hamlet's murder. By observing Claudius's response, Hamlet will judge whether or not Claudius is guilty. "The play's the thing/ Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."

    HW: Reread pages 51-56. Then read Act 3, scene 1, pages 57-68. No need to annotate at this time.


    Wed., November 20

    1. We have heard the humor in Polonius’s lines. Note that he provides comic relief within this tragedy.

    Comic relief:  A humorous or farcical interlude in a serious literary work or drama, especially a tragedy, intended to relieve the dramatic tension or heighten the emotional impact by means of contrast.  

    2. Recognize the "mirroring" that occurs through Hamlet's request that the Player recite Pyrrhus's act of vengeance in the slaughter of Priam. Pyrrhus is perhaps "reflecting," that is, presenting an image of Hamlet's objective.  Note also, that Pyrrhus is a brutal avenger.

    3. Discuss the dissonance between Hamlet's humanitarian and generous suggestion to Polonius to treat the Players well and his ill-treatment of himself for not carrying out revenge as of yet. Is Hamlet's scholarly and humanitarian nature at odds with the warrior role the Ghost requires of Hamlet? Hamlet, it can be said, must give up his identity in order to carry out murder.

    "Use every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is your bounty."

    4. Hamlet berates himself in his second soliloquy for not having taken revenge as of yet.

    5. Hamlet's reasoning, however mad he may seem, leads him to consider the possible demonic nature of the Ghost who might, through his request of Hamlet, aim to damn Hamlet's soul. Is Hamlet merely indecisive or is he demonstrating a reasoned approach to his circumstances?

    5. Hand in your annotated copy of Hamlet's second soliloquy.

    HW: Complete Step 1 below. 

    Essay Prompt:  

    What are the external and internal forces affecting Hamlet? Why is Hamlet vulnerable to them? How has he responded thus far? How do his responses help to characterize him? To what extent are his responses admirable or not? In what ways do his struggles illustrate the human condition? 

    Step 1: Write an exploratory paragraph of 250 words. Focus on your thoughts, not the quality of your writing. You should seek to be insightful. Link your thoughts to agency, anomie, the warrior ethos, wordplay or any other strong concept we’ve discussed that somehow intersects with your ideas about the above prompt. Linking your thoughts to a significant concept will help you to construct a workable thesis later on. Print your paragraph and bring it to class. 

    Step 2: Voice ideas in class. Gain credit for your comments. Listen to others’ ideas. Develop your ideas in response to what is voiced by classmates.  

    Step 3: Develop an insightful thesis statement. Focus on what you have found interesting and worth discussing. You must narrow your topic sufficiently in order to handle it within an essay written in 42 minutes. 

    Step 4: Search for supportive textual evidence.

    Step 5: Write a brief outline of the essay you plan to write in class. Place Post-Its in your copy of Hamlet where relevant textual evidence appears.  Do not overwhelm your essay with quotations. Don’t use more than 3 brief quotations. Use ellipses (they allow you to delete irrelevant material) and or brackets (they allow you to add or change a word to provide clarity) if helpful.

    Step 6: Write a well-constructed essay in class. You may use your copy of Hamlet in order to quote accurately. You may also have your thesis statement and a bare-bones outline on your desk while writing the essay.


    Tuesday, Nov. 19

     1. In Act 2, sc. 2, pages 38-40, Hamlet is simultaneously:

           - being clever with words (allowing him to express what he thinks and feels)

           - feigning madness (providing cover for the dangerous knowledge he possesses)

           - disparaging Polonius (putting him down)

           - making serious comments about his views of life and human behavior (he has grown quite cynical and depressed)

    2. After finally receiving an honest response from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about why they came to Elsinore, Hamlet shares with them some of his true feelings. However, he withholds the reasons behind his feeling so depressed. 

    3. Discuss "my uncle-father and aunt-mother" (a jab at each who has taken on too many roles), "I am mad north-north-west." (inconsistently mad) and "O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!" (a biblical allusion to a father who sacrificed his daughter).

    4. Hamlet asks the player to recite lines from a play that features Pyrrhus, a young warrior who seeks to avenge his father, Achilles, who was killed in the Trojan War.  

    5. Note the reference to Fortune as a strumpet and to her wheel. This is an ancient figuration that suggests the disloyalty of good fortune, how one's fortune is subject to change.

    6. Hamlet plans to have the Players present a play that mirrors the late King Hamlet's murder. By observing Claudius's response, Hamlet will judge whether or not Claudius is guilty. "The play's the thing/ Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."

    HW: Read and annotate Hamlet's second soliloquy from the end of Act 2, scene 2.


    Monday, Nov. 18

    1. Form small groups and discuss some of the following student-generated questions:

    1. Did King Claudius invite Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to Denmark to "fix" Hamlet in order for the well being of Hamlet or the king's own reputation? Does he actually care about Hamlet's mental health?

    2. Why does the King of Norway and Claudius trust Fortinbras' change of heart and promise to not attack Denmark if he already lied about his actions once? Why are they so forgiving?

    3. Was Rosencrantz's reaction to Hamlet's explanation appropriate?

    4. Why has Hamlet become so cynical?

    5. What is the meaning of the conversation of Lady Luck between Hamlet, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern?

    6. Why does Polonius ask for Gertrude and Claudius’s opinions on him? Why does he ask them how their opinions would differ if he didn’t tell them about Ophelia and Hamlet?

    7. Why are Rosencratz’s and Guildenstern’s lines never in iambic pentameter? Why is Hamlet’s speech to Rosencratz and Guildenstern out of iambic pentameter?

    8. Does Hamlet actually know who Polonius is but says that he's a fishmonger just because he wouldn't let Ophelia see him?

    9. Why does Hamlet view Denmark as a prison?

    10. Why aren’t the friends telling Hamlet why they were sent to see him? Are they more loyal to the King and Queen rather than their long-time friend?

    11. How has the reader’s perception of Polonius changed as the play progresses? How do the other characters view Polonius (the king, queen, Hamlet, Ophelia, etc.)?

    12. How does Polonius actions seem to go against the wishes of his daughter (for example, he seems very insensitive to her feelings while reading the letter to her from Hamlet aloud to the king and queen)? How does this show his character and his true loyalties?

    13. When Hamlet says that women do not make him happy either, is this because he doesn’t truly love Ophelia? Or because he thinks she doesn’t really love him? Would this be different if Polonius had not given Ophelia the direction to go against her own desires to be with him?

    14. How are Hamlet and Polonius contrasted in their ability to create meaning through wordplay and how does it this characterize both of them?

    15. How does Polonius continuously resort to spying and plotting to keep eyes on his children and what does this say about him as a parent?

    16. Does Hamlet’s “nonsensical” conversation with Polonius have meaning? How can Polonius be related to the “kissing carrion” mentioned by Hamlet? 

    2. Euphemism - a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.

    3. Notice the wordplay in the madness of Hamlet's behavior as he speaks to Polonius. He calls Polonius a fishmonger, a seller of fish. However, fishmonger is a euphemism for fleshmonger, a seller of flesh; that is, a pimp. 

    HW: Read and annotate pages 43 - 56 in Hamlet


    Friday, Nov. 15

    1. Act I ends with Marcellus and Horatio swearing not to disclose any knowledge of the Ghost nor any suggestion as to why Hamlet might behave oddly. 
    2. Hamlet states, "...I perchance hereafter shall think it meet/ To put an antic disposition on --"; that is, he may think it appropriate or necessary to act as if he were mad.
    3. In a rhyming couplet Hamlet expresses the overwhelming burden he feels, "The time is out of joint. O cursed spite,/ That ever I was born to set it right!"
    4. Act II, scene i: Polonius instructs Reynaldo how to spy on Laertes. "Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth;/...By indirections find directions out." Note the use of metaphor as well as paradox. Polonius is quite pleased with his "cleverness".
    5. Ophelia is distraught as she informs her father about Hamlet's crazed behavior when he visited her closet (room). Polonius concludes, "This is the very ecstasy (madness) of love..." (II.i).
    6. Claudius has sent for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet's childhood friends, to discover why Hamlet has changed so drastically. R&G say they are willing to do the King's bidding. Note the King’s willingness to exploit the bond of friendship between Hamlet and R&G as well as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s willingness to serve the King and abuse the trust of their longtime friendship with Hamlet. 
    7. Voltemand, returned from Norway, reports that Fortinbras has been reprimanded by his uncle and has agreed to wage war against the Pollacks, not Denmark. He requests free passage through Denmark as he marches against the Pollacks. Claudius is pleased that Fortinbras has been put in his place. This is another instance wherein the elder generation has imposed its will on the younger generation. Both Norway and Claudius believe that the young upstart has been brought under control. What does their satisfaction with the supposed outcome demonstrate about them? (35-36)
    8. In reporting to the King and Queen, Polonius continues to use flourishes of language that prompt Gertrude to say, "More matter, with less art." Recognize the obsequious behavior of Polonius and R&G.
    9. Polonius plans to contrive a meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia so that Polonius and Claudius can spy on them while hiding behind an arras.

    HW: Read and annotate pages 33-43 in Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2. Write 6 questions and email them to me at orianic@gcufsd.net


    Thursday, Nov. 14

    1. Horatio fears for Hamlet's physical and mental health, warning him not to follow the ghost. Marcellus famously says, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." In response, Horatio makes a statement of faith when he says, "Heaven will direct it" (1.4).

    2. Does the Ghost emanate from purgatory or from hell? Does the Ghost's behest endanger Hamlet's soul?

    3. Hamlet suggests that once he is told about the unnatural nature of his father's murder, he will "sweep to [his] revenge" (1.5); that is, move swiftly.

    4. Three poisonings have occured:

    • The metaphorical poisoning of the ear of Denmark in that the people have been told a lie about King Hamlet's death.
    • The literal poisoning of King Hamlet when Claudius poured poison in his ear.
    • The metaphorical poisoning of Hamlet's mind in being told the disturbing and dangerous knowledge of his father's murder by a brother's hand.

    5. King Hamlet says he was "sent to his account/ With all [his] imperfections on [his] head"; that is, with all of his unconfessed sins. Therefore, he must suffer for them most horribly.

    6. In carrying out revenge, the Ghost tells Hamlet:

    • "Taint not thy mind,
    • nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother..." (1.5)

    7. Hamlet submits to the Ghost's desires and subordinates his identity to the demands of his father's "commandment".  He is a scholar who will take on a warrior's role.

    8. Hamlet and the Ghost command Horatio and Marcellus to swear not to unfold anything about this experience even if they witness Hamlet's strange behavior in the future.

    9. Hamlet states, "I perchance hereafter shall think it meet/ To put an antic disposition on--"; that is, Hamlet says he will play the role of a madman when and if he believes it is appropriate.

    10. Is Hamlet going to be further alienated, now from himself, as a result of playacting madness wherein his reality and appearance may be at odds? Is he casting off the integrity of his person? Will this pretense in fact drive him to madness?

    HW: Review the notes above. Read Act 2, scene 1. What instruction does Polonius provide Reynaldo? What experience has frightened Ophelia? Be prepared to discuss these questions in class tomorrow.


    Wed., November 13

    1. Receive a list of student-generated questions. Choose 8-10 questions you would like to discuss with your group.

    2. Participate in a discussion of Act 1, scenes 4 and 5.

    Student-Generated Questions based on Hamlet: Act I, Scenes 4 and 5

    1. How does Claudius pouring poison down the king's ear match the way he rules his people?
    2. Why is there a contrast between Hamlet's view of his father and his father's own admittance to having a "sinful life"?
    3. How is Hamlet characterized up to this part in the play?
    4. What can we conclude about the new King's character through the telling of Hamlet's murder?
    5. Through the first act, whose agency is being limited most?
    6. What does the fact that Hamlet is against drinking show about his character?
    7. Why does Hamlet decide to make revenge his priority, to the point where he decides to void his mind of everything else?
    8. Why does King Hamlet want his son to leave Queen Gertrude alone until she is judged and punished in the afterlife?
    9. What sins is the ghost referring to?
    10. Why is Hamlet unsure of whether or not the ghost is evil when he knows it’s his father’s spirit?
    11. If Hamlet is already an emotional wreck about trying to fix the mess, how is he actually going to succeed in the vengeance?
    12. Will Hamlet ever be able to have a strong agency- with everyone else surrounding him- pushing himself to be the warrior?
    13. Will this incestuous relationship that young Hamlet's mother has with Claudius affect his relationship with Ophelia?
    14. Even though King Hamlet's ghost says to leave Gertrude alone, will young Hamlet be able to?
    15. Could Hamlet ever recover his morals if he does succeed with this vengeance?
    16. What is the effect of the ghost talking to Hamlet and Horatio from beneath the stage?
    17. Why does Hamlet feel he will begin to act strange in the near future?
    18. Why is the King so concerned with not being able to repent his sins? What sins is he talking about?
    19. Why does Hamlet not want the responsibility of avenging his father?
    20. How is Claudius similar to a serpent? What does the garden scene allude to?
    21. How are the afterlife and Heaven portrayed?
    22. How does religious diction play a role in scenes 4 & 5?
    23. Why does it feel like Hamlet almost takes a satirical tone with this ghost father on pages 27 and 28?
    24. It is pretty evident that Hamlet loves his father, but the Ghost continuously says “If thou didst ever thy dear father love”, is the Ghost attempting to guilt trip his sone into a deed over his head? 
    1. How does Hamlet interpret indulgence and enjoyment at the beginning of the scene? Explain the significance of his point of view.

         26. Why would King Hamlet make Hamlet take revenge on behalf of himself if it means that Hamlet may go to hell or purgatory for it like King Hamlet?

         27. In Hamlet, Act 1 scene 4, how does Marcellus's declaration, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark", relate to the motif corruption/mortality?

         28. How does the allusion to the Neman lion further the meaning of the play?

         29. How does the method Claudius used in killing his brother connect to the Hamlet’s quote from Scene 2, ”Nor shall you do my ear that violence”, when speaking of a falsehood?

         30. “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain; At least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark” (Shakespeare 26). How does this contribute to the theme of public vs. private identity, and further contribute to Hamlet’s sense of anomie based on his seemingly different sense of morality?

         31. In the beginning of scene 5, why is the word “foul” repeated three times? 

         32. What possible themes and motifs have been revealed in the exposition (Act 1) of this play?

    3. Note parallels:

      King Claudius (uncle) ---> Hamlet (nephew) ---> lost father; seeks revenge                      

      King Norway (uncle) --> Fortinbras (nephew) --> lost father; seeks revenge


    Tuesday, November 12

     1. Important vocabulary:

    Anomie (noun) - the state of alienation experienced by an individual or group in response to a collapse of the social and moral structures governing a given state.

    • Recognize that Hamlet is experiencing anomie. 

    Ethos (noun) - the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations, Ex.: The company made environmental awareness part of their business ethos.

    • Hamlet’s culture embraces the warrior ethos.

    2. Recognize that Hamlet is suffering from anomie resulting from the collapse of social and moral structures he relied on:

    • Hamlet is alienated when the court of Denmark abandons their mourning to celebrate a wedding
    • Hamlet is alienated when the court accepts the marriage as legitimate rather than incestuous
    • Hamlet is alienated when his mother accepts Claudius as her husband and lover
    • Hamlet is alienated when he learns his uncle has murdered King Hamlet, his brother

    3. Ophelia, another woman whose sexuality is the subject of male concerns, is introduced. Her agency, not only in terms of her behavior but in terms of her ability to think for herself, is limited by both Laertes and Polonius. 

    4. Polonius: "Think yourself a baby,/ That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay,/ Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;/Or...you'll tender me a fool" (I.iii).

    Note the shifting use of "tender" to suggest value or payment. Also, does Polonius's shift from a concern about his daughter to a concern about himself suggest his real motivation for barring Ophelia from seeing Hamlet? Lastly, is the use of "tender" suggesting the value of a woman on the marriage market? Traditionally, a woman's value drops dramatically if she is not a virgin.

    5. Ophelia weakly objects but ultimately submits to her father's will. She shows some gumption, however, when she tells her brother that he ought to model his own advice.

    6. Note: Hamlet's "tether" may be longer than Ophelia's but there are limits on his agency also. Laertes points out that public demands will impact his personal desires.

    7. Watch Act 1, scenes 4 and 5.

    HW: Read and annotate Act 1, scenes 4 and 5. Write 8 discussion questions and email them to me.


    Friday, November 8

    1. When Hamlet says, "Nor shall you do my ear that violence (1.2)," he suggests that a falsehood is a kind of violence.

    2. Act 2, scene to ends with a rhyming couplet:

                Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds rise,

                Though all the earth o'erwhlem them, to men's eyes.

    Hamlet states that misdeeds, currently unseen, will be revealed.

    3. Laertes warns Ophelia to be cautious in her relationship with Hamlet, to recognize that because of his public role, Hamlet's will in marriage is not his own. Laertes' warning includes imagery that is part of the corruption motif, for he says, "The canker gauls the infants of the spring/ Too oft before their buttons be disclosed,"  an image that suggests the flower of her womanhood could be corruptd even before it has a chance to bloom.

    4. Discuss Polonius's interaction with Laertes and Ophelia in Act 1, sc. 3.


    Thursday, Nov. 7

    1. Review Hamlet's wordplay on page 9; continue.
    2. Discuss Hamlet's first soliloquy.
    3. Reasons for Hamlet's alienation and world-weariness:
    • horror at mother's speedy remarriage
    • personal loathing of Claudius
    • perception of his mother's sexuality as a kind of animal lust
    • perception of the marriage as incest
    1. Metaphor: the world is "an unweeded garden" overtaken by "things rank and gross in nature" (I.ii).
    2. Allusion: satyr - half man, half beast; lover of wine and women inclined to lust and the animalistic fulfillment of desires
    3. Apostrophe: "Frailty, thy name is woman!--" (I.i) Hamlet speaks as though he is addressing frailty directly. Hamlet, upset with his mother's swift remarriage, harshly judges women in general. He perceives women as weak, both physically and morally.
    4. Mythological Allusion: "My father's brother, but no more like my father/ Than I to Hercules...." (I.ii) Hercules is known for his strength and adventures. 
    5. Limited agency: "But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue." (I.i) 
    6. Note the limits on Hamlet's agency and his statement about what he is not: not a hero, not a warrior (like Hercules). This is a statement of identity. Identity is an important theme in the play, and, given the fact that Hamlet wants to return to Wittenburg, we can deduce that he is a student, a scholar, an intellectual. 

    HW: Read and annotate Act I, scene iii of Hamlet.


    Wed., Nov. 6

    1. Watch Act 1, scene 2 of Hamlet.

    2. The setting of scene 2 is in sharp contrast to the setting of scene 1. The characterization of Horatio (trustworthy)(natural emotions and considerations) and Claudius (a consummate politician)(polished emotions and reasoned presentation) are also in sharp contrast. Contrasts or oppositions such as these often offer windows through which we can peer and gain greater insight. 

    3. Discuss scene 2 in which we recognize Claudius's adroit maneuvers to project a public image. His use of "our" suggests unity of thought and feeling and distributes responsibility in the acceptance of a marriage that would have been seen as incestuous according to the norms of the times.  Note an emerging theme: Appearance versus Reality. Does Claudius's public persona match his private persona?

    4. Recognize the limits of Claudius's agency as a public figure who requires the respect and high regard of his subjects. He, therefore, in order to circumvent these limits, projects a public persona that may or may not match his private self.

    5. In Hamlet's lines, beginning at the top of page 9, we can see how he resorts to wordplay as a symptom of his limited agency. He has very limited options. He uses wordplay to express himself through multiple meanings. 

    6. Discuss the aside in which Hamlet states, "A little more than kin and less than kind."  Note that "kind" may be defined here as "natural" - a definition prevalent in Shakespeare's time. 

    7. Further notes about agency:

    •   Claudius, it can be argued, attempts to expand his agency as king. He can be seen transgressing social boundaries (by marrying his brother's wife - incest by standards of the time). He is politically adept at dispersing responsibilty among all those who "have freely gone/ With this affair along." Additionally, through manipulation, he may be violating the agency of his peope.
    •   Young Fortinbras can be seen attempting to exercise agency in raising an army without the consent of his uncle. 
    •   Laertes' limited agency requires him to ask permission of his father and king.    
    1. Note the emerging subplot that parallel's Hamlet's situation: Young Fortinbras seeks retribution in the aftermath of his father's death while his uncle is king of Norway.

    HW: Review the notes above. Read, analyze and annotate Hamlet's first soliloquy (see below). Be sure to define unfamiliar words and research allusions. Be prepared for a quiz on elements within these lines. 

    Visit the Shakespeareswords website that you will find under Links at the left-hand side of this page. This website enables you to define words by searching its Glossary and to research allusions by searching under Language Companion. I highly recommend using this website rather than the internet in general when analyzing and annotating Shakespeares' works. 


    Tuesday, Nov. 5

    Election Day


    Monday, November 4

    1. Tragedy is an enduring genre that has existed for over 2400 years.

    2. In analyzing ancient Greek tragedies, Aristotle recognized the following characteristics:

    1. They are written in elevated language and deal with self-contained action.
    2. They involve dramatic reversals and climactic recognition (anagnorisis) and evoke fear and pity.
    3. Tragic protagonists are usually elevated by rank and/or ability and fall victim to hamartia: an error in action. 
    4. Tragic protagonists suffer a crisis of an extreme combination of internal and external forces.
    5. The result of viewing a tragedy is a purging of emotions for the audience (catharsis).

    3. Blank verse - unrhymed iambic pentameter

    4. Scan the following line for the accented syllables: 
                                             You come most carefully upon your hour. (exemplifies iambic pentameter with five 'feet' of iambs)
    5. Now scan the following line for accents: 
                                              Friends upon this ground.

         Note the variation and resulting emphasis on Friends. Also note the fact that this line contains only two accents and is completed by the next character's  line. 
                                                                       And liegemen to the Dane.
         Here, Shakespeare duplicates the shorter lines that exemplify conversation.

    6. Note Shakespeare's use of "unfold" as a pivotal word selection here and in the play as a whole. It suggests the command to:

                    1. disclose your identity

                    2. tell your story

    7. Note: Shakespeare is highly skilled at exposition. His opening scene provides hints that cannot be appreciated until after reading the entire play and returning to the beginning for careful consideration. For instance, Francisco's line: "I am sick at heart" can be recognized as setting a mood and relating to Hamlet who is central to the story and who is clearly very "sick at heart." 

    8. Hamlet can be seen as loyal, skeptical, well-respected, scholarly, circumspect, courageous, duty-bound, trust-worthy. 

    9. Note on the bottom of page 5 that the men are unable to exert their agency over the ghost. 

    10.  Take special note of "Wherein our Savior's birth is celebrated" that serves to indicate that Denmark is a Christian nation. Christianity informs Hamlet's sense of boundaries and is thus important to the quandary with which he struggles.

    HW: Read and annotate Act 1, scene 1 of Hamlet, pages 7-14. How are Claudius, Gertrude and Hamlet characterized? Place adjectives alongside text. 


    Friday, November 1


    HW: Read and annotate Act I, scene i of Hamlet while using the following questions as a guide:
    1. Who's there?
    2. What's going on?
    3. What should be done?
    Your annotations should address these questions as well as:
    4. How does Shakespeare suggest the mood?
    5. How is Horatio characterized?


    Thursday, October 31

    1. Shakespeare’s Tragedies:

    Certain themes and problems regularly occur in the mature tragedies. 

    1. These works explore tensions between the will and desires of the individual and the constraints emanating from his or her society—the relationship between public and private life.
    2. Shakespearean tragedies frequently anatomize the workings of power (political power, erotic power, the power of language and the imagination, the power of the theater itself).
    3. The major characters often question the workings of the metaphysical forces that ostensibly shape their universe.
    4. Shakespearean tragedies are generally family matters and, therefore, much concerned about divided loyalties.
    5. Shakespearean tragedies raise questions about agency: about who does or does not get to act and to reflect upon their actions in the imaginative space of these plays.
      1. They also explore the borderline between action and transgression and invite us to ponder the moments at which characters overstep a moral or social or cultural boundary.
      2. They raise questions concerning the gendering of experience and action and the seeming monopoly held by male characters on the most elevated tragic experience.
      3. They regularly offer variations on the theme of tragic knowledge.         

    (adapted from University of Virginia, Professor Clare R. Kinney’s lecture entitled Shakespeare’s Tragedies, published by The Teaching Company)


    2. Glossary

    Agency: 1) The power to act freely and, by extension, 2) to take responsibility for one’s actions. In the imaginative universe of tragedy, characters often struggle to assert their agency in the face of forces (social, political, or metaphysical) that inhibit their desires; alternatively, they may speak in ways that mystify or deny their agency, their responsibility for their deeds. 

    Catharsis: Aristotle’s term for a tragedy’s emotional effect on its audience—in particular, its power to purge the strong emotions (especially pity and fear) that it has created in the viewer. 

    Tragic knowledge: The special insight or vision sometimes granted to the tragic protagonist.

    3. Watch the first scene of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet.



    Wed., October 30

    Writing Effective Thesis Statements and Literary Analysis/Arguments

    1. An effective thesis statement
    • is interpretive; that is, it makes an arguable claim
    • and offers plenty to comment on in an essay.
    1. Connection to a thematic ideaas well as discussion of literary devices will lead you toward analysis and argument and away from mere summary.
    2. When citing supporting evidence or referencing a device explainHOW it illustrates your interpretation and/or functions within your interpretation. The more you explain HOW rather than state THAT, the stronger your essay will be. 
    3. When presenting evidence, be sure your comments address not just WHAT but SO WHAT.

     HW: None. Make up missed work if necessary. Make appointments to work with me in the Writing Center if your Walton paragraph demonstrated weaknesses.


    Tuesday, October 29

    1. Take a reading comprehansion quiz. 

    2. If you are absent, you'll need to arrange a make-up.

    HW: None. Concentrate on completing college applications. 


    Monday, October 28

    1. Discuss the plot, setting, characterizations and symbols in Susan Glaspell's "Trifles."

    2. The editors of our textbook suggest that an effective thesis statement

    • is interpretive; that is, it makes an arguable claim
    • offers plenty to comment on in an essay

    3. Reference to a thematic idea as well as discussion of literary devices will lead you toward analysis and away from mere summary.

    4. When citing supporting evidence explain HOW they illustrate your interpretation. The more you explain HOW rather than state THAT, the stronger your essay will be. 

    5. When presenting evidence, be sure your comments address not just WHAT but SO WHAT.

    HW: None.


    Friday, October 25

    1. Based on the thesis statement you have devised, write an essay about Frankenstein.

    2. Submit your copy of the novel so that I can grade your annotations.

    3. Take a copy of Susan Glaspell's "Trifles". 

    HW: Read and annotate "Trifles" by Susan Glaspell. Be prepared to discuss the play on Monday and to work toward writing a thesis statement about it. 


    Thurs., October 24

    1. Thesis statements must be clear, well-reasoned and well-constructed. They must respond to the prompt and suggest how the topic relates to a larger idea within the work.

    2. The following themes are handled in Frankenstein. Perhaps this list will help you relate your topic to a larger idea. 

                       Alienation and Loneliness

                       Dangerous Knowledge

                       Nature VS Nurture

                       Appearance VS Reality

                       Duty and Responsibility

                       Justice VS Injustice

                       Language and Communication

                       Heart VS Mind

    3. Visit Handouts in the left-hand menu on this page. See the Review Sheet for Frankenstein. Items on this review sheet may enhance your discussion, moving you toward analysis and away from mere summary.  

    4. Be certain to discuss the novel within the body paragraphs. DO NOT make connections to technology or A.I. within the body. You may do so in the concluding one or two sentences of the essay. You need not make connections to technology and A.I. 

    HW: Reconsider and revise your thesis statement in preparation for writing your essay tomorrow. Read the above for suggestions. If you need help from me, find me before class tomorrow. I am on hall duty period 1 near cafeteria. I am in the Writing Center periods 3, 5, 6 and 8. 


    Wed., October 23

    1. Receive an Essay #3 prompt from a former exam:

    Many works of literature feature characters who have been given a literal or figurative gift. The gift may be an object , or it may be a quality such as uncommon beauty, significant social position, great mental or imaginative faculties, or extraordinary physical powers. Yet this gift is often a burden or a handicap.

    Select a character from a novel, epic, or play who has been given a gift that is both and advantage and a problem. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze how the gift and its complex nature contribute to an interpretation of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

    2. Typically you will be given 40 minutes to write an essay. Take the first 1/3 to prepare and the remaining 2/3 to write the essay.

    3. Using a "13-Minute Approach", brainstorm ideas and write a thesis statement that responds to the prompt. 

    4. Review the AP grading rubric.

    HW: Email your thesis statement to me at orianic@gcufsd.net  Write your thesis directly into the email. If you were absent today, please take 13 minutes to brainstorm a response to the prompt above (Discuss Frankenstein). 


    Tuesday, October 22

    1. Continue yesterday's seminar.

    2. Add the following question: "How is duty, obligation or responsibilty a significant topic in the novel?"

    HW: Read and annotate "Frankenstein: Giving Voice to the Monster" by Langdon Winner.


    Monday, October 21

    1. Read through the following student-generated questions. Which are most intriguing to you?

    1. What causes the monster to weep and feel guilt?
    2. Why does Victor encourage the crew in their expedition even though he was the one cautioning the captain against such lofty goals?
    3. “His soul is as hellish as his form, full of treachery and fiend-like malice” (Shelley 155). As Victor only sees the monster as pure evil, what does he fail recognize about his own hand in creating this evil and about the monster’s potential for good if he had been accepted into society? 
    4. “Must I then lose this admirable being? I have longed for a friend; I have sought one who would sympathise with and love me. Behold, on these desert seas I have found such a one; but I fear, I have gained him only to know his value, and lose him. I would reconcile him to life, but he repulses the the idea” (Shelley 157). How does Walton’s description of his relationship with Victor further the theme of the necessity of human connection and parallel the monster’s desire for relationships, connecting the outer and inner narratives?
    5. How can Walton still so much admire Victor after knowing the full truth? Why does he not accuse him of being selfish and careless? What is it about Victor that makes him so glorified by Walton?
    6. If the monster felt guilt and agony over killing innocent people, why didn’t he stop and try to find another way to be happy in his life? Did he not have any control over his emotions, and his rage and jealousy dominated over any reasoning?
    7. Even in his lowest state, Victor still shows signs of hubris, calling himself a “fallen archangel.” Has Victor truly learned his lesson yet, or is he still trying to act like God? What about his speech to push the sailors onward (or does he say that only to pursue the monster)?
    8. How did Victor not see the attempt on Elizabeth's life/ murder coming? Was his thinking affected by his hubris?
    9. How do the elements of Gothic literature function in this section of the novel? (wind, rain, shadows, etc)
    10. How does the monster react to Victor's passing? 
    11. “The die is cast; I have consented to return if we are not destroyed. Thus are my hopes blasted by cowardice and indecision; I come back ignorant and disappointed. It requires more philosophy than I possess to bear this injustice with patience.” How does this quote show the difference between Walton and Victor’s characters?
    12. Why do Victor and the monster share some of the same thoughts and feelings towards the end of the novel?
    13. Does Shelley purposely not include if the monster really died or not? The novel states, “He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance” (Shelley 166).
    14. The women in this story suffer tragic circumstances and because of their demises and lack of central presence in the story are often described as weak characters but to what extent are they stronger than their male counterparts?
    15. Why is the Arctic a fitting place for the desolation of Victor and the Monster?
    16. Why does the monster leave Victor food and dead animals to help victor pursue him?
    17. How does the frame narrative contribute to the overall impact of the novel?
    18. Why does Walton upon hearing what the monster has to say, feel sympathetic for the monster then immediately dismisses his sympathy?
    19. Why does Walton see Victor as a noble man and the monster as a hideous creature when Victor and the monster are so similar on the inside at this point in the story?
    20. Are the lives of Victor and the monster connected? As in their health? It seems like Victor is weakened when he is around, but the monster is stronger. That is, up until Victor dies.
    21. Why is the monster sad when Victor dies? Did he only want the attention of his master?
    22. Has Victor been stripped of his humanity and torn away from human society?
    23. How do you think Frankenstein failed as a human being? What traits or attributes do you think led to the creature's fate?
    24. When Victor says “How ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!” Why is this so ironic?
    25. Is the monster a tragic victim or a villain?
    26. How could the monster have viciously murdered so many innocent people and yet feel so guilty and hate himself for doing it?
    27. What does the monster mean when he states,” I was the slave, not the master, of an impulse which I detested, yet could not disobey.”?
    28. Victor’s obsession with exacting revenge on the monster parallels his original obsession with creating the monster.  Does this suggest that Victor has not learned from his past mistakes? Conversely, the monster displays extreme grief and sorrow over his creator’s death.  Does this suggest the monster has learned from his mistakes (i.e. outgrown anger and vengefulness → feels regret)?
    29. Is Victor really a monster too? Are there two monsters now? What would characterize someone as a "monster" and would both Victor and the monster fit this description?
    30. Are the Monster and Victor doppelgängers?
    31. How is justice handled and questioned in this novel?

     2. Paricipate in a seminar that addresses a few of the questions above. 

    HW: Tomorrow, we will continue to discuss the novel using some of the above questions. You should gather your thoughts on questions you would like to pursue. You will earn credit through:

    1. Commenting

    2. Providing textual evidence

    3. Referencing notes on ideas/allusions Shelley has incorporated into her novel


    Friday, October 18

    1. Take the Unit 1 Progress Check available at MyAPClassroom. You'll need to make this up if you were absent. Speak to me.

    HW: Finish reading and annotating Frankenstein. Write 5 questions and email them to me at orianic@gcufsd.net  Write the questions directly into the email so that I do not need to open additional documents.


    Thursday, October 17

    1. In small groups discuss the following student-generated questions: 

         1. Is it a good idea for Victor to create another monster?

         2. What is the significance of Paradise Lost to the identity of the Monster?

         3. In what ways is Victor a cold and distant god? Might Shelley view her Christian god similarly?

         4. In what ways does Shelley comment on social and political injustice?

         5. Does Shelley demonstrate political and social biases?

         6. How is Safie depicted compared to other women in this novel Similarities and differences?

         7. Why does the Monster call the cottagers his "protectors"?

         8. In what ways is the Monster conflicted?

         9. What role do the seasons weather play?

        10. To what extent is Victor to blame for the Monster's pain and suffering?

    2. Receive a handout on The Gothic Novel (available in Handouts).  Read and discuss these elements as seen in Frankenstein.

    HW: Due Monday: Finish reading and annotating Frankenstein. Write 5 questions and email them to me at orianic@gcufsd.net  Write the questions directly into the email so that I do not need to open additional documents.


    Wed., October 16

    I was absent from school today.

    HW: Read and annotate pages 128-143 of Frankenstein. Write 5 questions.


    Tuesday, October 15

    1. The following are important elements of the Monster's experience:

           A. LANGUAGE - The Monster learns to value language and strives to acquire it, for he believes language will serve his needs for companionship.

           B. EMPATHY - "When they were unhappy, I felt depressed; when they rejoiced, I sympathized in their joys" (79).

           C. SELF-PERCEPTION - I became fully convinced...I was in reality the Monster that I am" (80). I "became filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification" (80).

    2. A number of BOOKS serve to educate the Monster:

           A. Ruins of Empires by Volney - 

                  1. Monster sees humans as capable of extremes:

                            NOBILITY <----> BASENESS

                            VIRTUES  <----> VICES

                  2. Monster recognizes societal ranking is based on:

                           a. family lineage

                           b. wealth

           B. The Sorrows of Werter - learned despondency and gloom

           C. Plutarch's Lives - learned "to admire and love heroes of the past ages" (91)

                                                    "I felt the greatest ardour for virtue rise within me and abhorence for vice..." (92).

           D. Paradise Lost by John Milton - experienced "wonder and awe"  (92)

                                                    Like Satan, the Monster felt "the bitter gall of envy" (92).

    HW: Read and annotate pages 108 - 128. Write 5 questions.


    Friday, October 11

    1. Important ideas evident in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein:

            The Sublime – the passion and astonishment caused by the awesomeness of nature

            Tabula Rasa – John Locke’s notion that human beings are born with a “clean slate” and begin to fill their minds through experience.

            Noble Savage – Rousseau’s notion that humans possess natural goodness when in the state of nature; society corrupts natural goodness

            Amour de soi – (according to Rousseau) a natural and positive self-love; positive self-love includes a drive for self-preservation

            Amour propre– (according to Rousseau) an artificial and negative self-love which arises when humans compare themselves to others, creating fear and leading one take pleasure in the pain and weakness of others

    2. Receive a handout on The Sublime. Go to Handouts on the lefthand menu of this page to see and print a downloadable copy.

    3. Discuss ways in which these concepts are exemplified in the novel. For instance, the sublime is experienced by Victor when the oak tree is completely devasted by the lightening strike (23) and when he hikes in the Alps (64).

    HW: Read and annotate pages 81-108. Write 8 questions. 


    Thursday, October 10

    1. Carefully observe and comment on this painting (text):

     Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the sea of fog.jpg

    2. Recognize parallels between elements of the painting and elements of the novel.

    3. Prometheus was punished by Zeus for giving fire to humans. The immortal was bound to a rock, where each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to eat Prometheus' liver, which would then grow back overnight to be eaten again the next day.

    HW: Read and annotate pages 70-81. Write five questions.


    Wed., October 9

    No School


    Tues., October 8

    1. Take a quiz on the Author's Introduction - Ch. 6.

    2. Continue reading and annotating Frankenstein

    HW: Read and annotate Chapters 8 - 10, pages 54-70. Be alert to silence VS communication as well as the role of nature.


    Mon., October 7

    1. Be sure you know the following terms:

    Allegory – a story in which persons, places and things form a system of clearly labeled equivalents, in other words, each represents something else.

                               Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Animal Farm by George Orwell are allegories. 

    Allusion -     An implied or indirect reference to something assumed to be known, such as

                         a historical event or person, a well-known quotation from literature, or a

                         famous work of art.

                              Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on (Anne Sexton)

                              Frankenstein includes allusions to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

    Ambiguity – doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention 

    Apostrophe - A figure of speech in which an address is made to an absent or deceased

                          person or a personified thing

                               Little Lamb, who made thee? (Blake)

                              O loss of sight, of thee I most complain! (Milton) 

    Epistolary – in the form of letters 

    Overstatement (Hyperbole) - A bold, deliberate overstatement, e.g., “”I’d give my right arm for a piece of pizza.”  Not intended to be taken literally, it is used as a means of emphasizing the truth of a statement.

                             Our hands were firmly cemented. (John Donne)

    Paradox – a statement which appears self-contradictory, but underlines a truth

                         Elected silence, speak to me. (Hopkins)

    Synecdoche – a form of metaphor through which mentioning a part signifies the whole    ("a sail on the horizon" - the sail represents a ship)

    Travelogue - a record of places visited and experiences encountered by a traveler.

    Understatement – implying more than is said.

                Last week I saw a woman flayed and you would hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse. (Swift)

    2. In small groups discuss some of the following.

    Frankenstein, Chapter 5 Student-generated Questions

    1. How does the weather function in this chapter?
    2. What does the detail of the monster’s grin demonstrate or contribute?
    3. Why didn’t Victor think about what would happen after creating his monster?
    4. What can the reader determine about Ictor’s and Henry’s relationship based on this chapter?
    5. Victor says he cares about his family, yet he seldom writes to them. He says he would be a wonderful creator, yet he abandons his creature. What do these contradictions say about him?
    6. Is there a reason why his name, Frankenstein, is only revealed after Victor creates the monster?
    7. Does Victor’s mental health correlate with his physical health?
    8. Does Victor really fear the monster or who he becomes through making it?
    9. Why is Henry Clerval willing to nurse Victor for so many months and put his education on hold?
    10. What is the importance of the monster staring at Victor when he wakes?
    11. Why did Victor work in isolation?
    12. Does Victor run away from more than the monster?
    13. Why is the church the first thing Victor sees in the morning?
    14. Will the monster be harmed by Victor’s running away?
    15. Why does Victor keep his experiment a secret?
    16. What is the significance of Victor’s dream?
    17. Victor falls asleep and later becomes “lifeless” after his creature has finally been “awakened” and given life. Does this inverse relationship hold meaning?
    18. The monster seemed to be reaching out, perhaps for a friend, yet Victor refuses.Similar to Walton’s struggle for companionship, they both deny it to themselves. Does Victor have a problem with the truth?

    3. Recall the "pale student of unhallowed arts" Shelley spoke of in the introduction. Victor is a student of unholy arts. 

    • He feels no compunction in disturbing graves
    • He imagines that "a new species [would] bless him as its creator..." (32) - hubristic 
    • He neglected nature, family and friends
      • "my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature"
      • "I knew well my silence disquieted them" (33)
      • "I shunned my fellow-creatures as if I were guilty of a crime." (34)

    4. Silence VS Communication 

    • "alone together" with Henry Clerval
    • "I could not ...allude to the occurences of the preceding night" (37)

    5. Note: Remember the bigger picture includes many more details than I will have time to point out to my classes. Please see the details I point out within the larger context of the work.  

    HW: Review all of our class webpage notes on Frankenstein, starting with Sept 23rd and working forward.  You should also review your annotations. The quiz tomorrow will cover the Author's Introduction through Ch. 6. 

    Read and annotate Chapter 7. 


    Friday, October 4

    1. Victor is "deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge"; wanted to "divine" "the hidden laws of nature" while Elizabeth "contemplated" "the appearance of things" with a "serious and satisfied spirit." (18)
    2. Clerval has an adventurous spirit. Has interest in romantic and chivalrous stories like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He "occupied himself...with the moral relation of things" (19). Note: Overtones of Christianity, right and wrong.
    3. Elizabeth is presented as angelic, "...her sweet eyes were ever there to bless and animate us" (19); she moderates Victor's and Clerval's ambition with her goodness. (20) To what extent does Victor see her as human?
    4. "Natural philosophy" is a term that refers to "science", science as it has been investigated leading to and including the time in which the novel is set.
    5. Parallels in Seeking the Forbidden:
    • Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
    • Prometheus stealing the fire the gods have hidden from humans
    • The Ancient Mariner killing the albatross
    • Walton upon the Artic sea despite his father's dying wish forbidding a seafaring life
    • Victor studying Agrippa after his father dismisses it
    • 6. The destruction of the oak tree:
    • inspires awe in Victor, "I never beheld anything so utterly destroyed" (22)
    • current scientific explanation turns Victor away from Agrippa and the other alchemists
    • seeks assurance in mathematics
    • speaks of Guardian Angel having tried "to avert [him] from the storm" (23)
    • alas, "Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter destruction" (23)
      • Vocabulary: immutable - unchanging
    1. Caroline Beaufort - characterized as selfless in caring for Elizabeth. (23)

              Elizabeth - characterized as selfless in comforting her "family" after the death of Caroline. (24)

    1. Professor Kempe derides Agrippa while Professor Waldeman credits Agrippa for having provided early foundations for science.
    2. Victor resolves to return to his "ancient studies".  Victor: "...far more will I achieve...I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of the world" (28).
    3. Note: Victor prejudges each professor based on their appearance.
    4. Victor pursues life by examining "the cause and progress of this decay" (30). Without fear, he removes bodies from the graveyard. His father purposely raised him without superstition. "In my education my father had taken the greatest precautions that my mind should be impressed by no supernatural horrors" (30). Ironically, his fearlessness leads to a most fearsome accomplishment. He will never again live without fear.

         12. Examination of death leads to discovery "from the midst of darkness a sudden light broke in upon me...(31)". Note imagery that presents opposition: light/dark

    HW: Read through all of the Frankenstein notes on our class webpage in preparation for quiz next week. Read and annotate Chapter 6. Write 5 questions. 


    Thurs., October 3

    1. Here are some excellent student-generated questions based on Chapters 1-3 of Frankenstein.  Read through them and select five questions to discuss in a small group.   

    1. Why do the women appear only in relation to men and not as main characters? Why is there no mention of Caroline’s mother? Why are the women characterized as passive?  

    1. Might Victor’s desire to bring something back to life be related to his mother’s death? 

    1. How does the use of heavenly diction characterize Elizabeth? Why is Elizabeth portrayed as if she could do no wrong?  

    1. Why does Victor seem so possessive of Elizabeth that he doesn’t seem to see her as human? Is their relationship healthy? Why does Caroline present Elizabeth as a “present”? 

    1. Why does the narrator refer to Elizabeth as an “inmate” of their home? 

    1. Why does Shelley personify Nature? 

    1. How is his father’s view of Caroline similar to Victor’s view of Elizabeth? 

    1. Does Victor’s fascination with the destruction of the tree foreshadow his own downfall as he pursues science? 

    1. Frankenstein foreshadows his own doom through angel and demon symbolism. How do these symbols lend themselves to the tone of the novel? 

    1. Based on Victor’s description of his own nature, how will he fare in isolation without the calming presence of Elizabeth? 

    1. How does Clerval compare to Victor?  

    1. What does Caroline’s willingness to take care of Elizabeth during her illness illustrate? 

    1. How do destiny and fate play a role and present a contradiction in a book primarily about a scientist and an experiment? 

    1.  How does his father’s attitude affect Victor? How does Elizabeth affect Victor and Clerval? 

    1. Why does Victor find so much amusement in science and the natural world? 

    1. Why is Victor so fascinated by the destroyed oak tree? How does the destruction of the oak tree affect Victor? 

    1. Who is his “guardian angel”? Why does he speak of a guardian angel? 

    1. How does Victor’s pursuit of knowledge differ from Elizabeth’s and Clerval’s? What do these differences suggest about their temperaments? 

    1. What frustrates Victor in his studies? What causes friction between Victor and his father? 

    1. Describe Victor’s studies at the university. What are some of the significant views expressed by his professors? How do their views affect Victor? 

    2. Now pursue the questions you wrote last night in response to reading Chapter 4. 

    HW: Read and annotate Chapter 5. Write five questions. 


    Wed., October 2

    1. Vocabulary: 

    Transgression - an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct; an offense; a stepping beyond boundaries

    Atonement - action(s) that make up for a past wrong-doing 

    2. Discuss: "There was a sense of justice in my father's upright mind, which rendered it necessary to that he should approve highly to love strongly" (15). This sounds like conditional love, not unconditional love.

    3. Discuss the description Victor presents of his childhood. It sounds pretty ideal; however, stop to consider word choices like "plaything" and "idol".

    4. Note: The dark-eyed peasant children are described as "hardy little vagrants" and "dark-leaved brambles" whereas Elizabeth is described as "very fair" and "bearing a celestial stamp", "fairer than a garden rose" (17).  These are judgments based on appearance. 

    5. Meet in small groups to discuss Chapters 1-3, using the questions you each wrote.

    HW: Read and annotate Chapter 4. Write 5 questions.


    Friday, Sept. 27

    1. Keeping our essential question in mind, discuss Walton's letters. 

    2. Essential Question: When does pride/ambition cross over into hubris?

    3. Look closely at Walton's comments about his ambitions and quest for glory.

    • Discuss Walton's desire to know what others do not, to go where others have not; to seek glory.Although Walton claims to love his sister and seek companionship, he clearly values glory more so.
    • Walton exhibits hubris: "But success shall crown my endeavors. ...What can stop the determined heart and resolve of man?" (7)

    4. Recognize a literary allusion on page 6 to: 

       “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798) A poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge about an old sailor who is compelled to tell strangers about the supernatural     adventures that befell him at sea after he killed an albatross, a friendly sea bird. A famous line is “Water, water, everywhere, / Nor any drop to drink.”

       What is the albatross a symbol of?

       The word albatross is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse. It is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's      poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798). ... The albatross is then literally hung around the mariner's neck by the crew to symbolize his guilt in killing the bird.

       What is the main theme of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"?

       Sin and repentance are the central themes of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." The Mariner commits a terrible sin when he kills the albatross, one of God's  beloved creatures. He spends the rest of his life trying to atone for his sin through his suffering and humility.

    5. Frankenstein is presented as a frame narrative, for it contains a story within a story.


    HW: Write a well-developed paragraph (200 words) in which you assert your view of Captain Robert Walton as seen through his letters. Be sure to present a topic sentence that presents an overarching opinion of his personality and/or behaviors. Develop your comments and support them with carefully chosen textual evidence from pages 1-14. Type and print.


    Thursday, Sept. 26

    1. Visit from Guidance Dept. 

    2. Create a Common Application account on Naviance.

    HW: Read and annotate chapters 1 - 3 of Frankenstein. Write and type 6 questions. Use a proper heading:

    Name                                                                           Date
    AP  Literature                                                              Period

                               Frankenstein, Chapters 1 -3


    Wed., Sept. 25

    1. Consider the differences in terms of both denotations and connotations among the meaning of these words: 

                    aloneness, loneliness, solitude, isolation, alienation

    2. Then, rank them from most desireable state of being to least desireable. Discuss.

    3. Begin discussion based on a close reading of the "Author's Introduction". Move paragraph by paragraph to comment on significant sentences, words, ideas. If you missed class, please speak to and get notes from a classmate.

    4. Recognize word choices and comments that may be significant. For example, "vainly" on page vii may be understood to mean:

    • in vain - without success or result
    • with vanity - with an excessive focus on one's self

    5. Galvanism - In biologygalvanism is the contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by an electric current. In the 1780's and '90's, Luigi Galvani's experiments led to a controversial view that a corpse could be reanimated. 

    6. Add to vocabulary log:

    unhallowed - unholy

    HW: Reread pages 2-14 and place the appropriate word/s (from list below) in the margins alongside text that demonstrates any of the following qualities in Robert Walton:



    sense of wonder


    desire for human relationship




    admiration for selflessness/nobility

    sense of standards


    Tuesday, Sept. 24

    1. In a sense, Ms. Turkle's TedTalk asks us to consider what makes us human; what we value about being human; and what is worth nurturing and preserving about our humaness. 

    2. Frankenstein can be seen as a story about the unintended consequences of human endeavor. 

    3. Discuss each part of Mary Shelley's name:

                Mary    Wollstonecraft    Godwin    Shelley

    4. Notes on Mary Wollstonecraft (mother): died soon after giving birth to Mary; an Enlightenment Thinker; intellectual; early feminist, concerned with women's rights; writer; her writings influenced Mary profoundly

    5. Notes on William Godwin (father): emotionally distant parent; Mary's excessive attachment to him was perhaps born of neglect; an intellectual, journalist; novelist; philosopher; concerned with political justice

    6. Notes on Percy Bysshe Shelley (husband): a major English Romantic poet

    7. Subtitle: "The Modern Prometheus" - In Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus had a reputation as a clever trickster. He famously gave the human race the gift of fire (the gods had hidden fire from humans), an action for which he was punished by Zeus.

    8. Add words to your personal vocabulary log:

              ostensible - stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so.

              overweening - showing excessive confidence or pride.

              eponymous - (of a person) giving their name to something. Frankenstein, the character, gives his name to Frankenstein, the novel

    9. Mary Shelley's name did not appear on the 1818 publication of Frankenstein

    10. In small groups, begin to discuss last night's reading assignments based on the questions you wrote.

    HW: None


    Monday, Sept. 23

    1. In preparation for our study of Frankensteinby Mary Shelley, watch the following TED Talk by Sherry Turkle:   https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together
    2. After listening to the presentation, take out a piece of looseleaf and explore responses (for 20 minutes) to the following: 
    • To what extent are you personally aware of and sensitive to the distinction Ms. Turkle recognizes between "being alone together" and actually being together?
    • What do you believe is gained or lost?
    • Do you agree that we are losing the capacity to reflect? Explain.
    • Is our technology about being in control and avoiding our vulnerabilities?
    • Turkle suggests that we "sacrifice conversation for mere connection". To what extent do you agree? Is no one listening?
    • Do we "expect more from technology and less from each other"? Are you willing to settle for "the illusion of connection"?
    • Turkle claims that without the capacity for solitude, we "end up using people as though they are spare parts" to compensate for the fragility of our sense of self.
    • Is solitude different from being lonely? How? What is the value of solitude? In your opinion, how does solitude prepare you for actually being together?

    3. Do not attempt to respond to each of these questions. Please allow yourself to explore your views and experience by jumping among these questions and taking your thoughts wherever they lead.

    HW: (If you missed class today, please complete the work you missed by following the three steps listed above.) 

    Read each of the following in your copy of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:

                Note, p. iii

                Author's Introduction, p. v-x

                Letter I - Letter IV, p. 1-14

    Write six questions that demonstrate close reading and engagement with the text.  To clarity: Attempt to write productive questons; that is, questions that would lead you toward seeing more in the text. Type your questions. I will collect them tomorrow.


    Friday, Sept. 20

    1. Receive a compilation of statements of themes written by students and based on "The First Day" by Edward P. Jones. 

    2. Discuss the statements of theme, critiquing them in terms of content and style. 

    3. Recognize that some statements 

    • suggest a misreading of the story
    • demonstrate a confusion between statement of theme and thesis statement 
    • exhibit wordiness
    • lack of clarity
    • make an unintended point
    • need qualification
    • use informal, non-academic language or symbols

    HW: No homework. Do something to advance your college application process. 


    Thursday, Sept. 19

    1. Review a number of devices that are part of a close analysis. Read pages 22-25 in textbook.

    2. Note: concrete nouns versus abstract nouns . 

            Concrete nouns signify something that can be perceived by at least one of the senses. Examples: book, soundtrack, incense 

            Abstract nouns have no physical reality. Examples: glory, freedom, luck

    3. Discuss Inverted Sentences - sentences that present words in an alternative order rather than the typical subject, verb, object arrangement.

            Exercise: Rearrange the four words in the following sentence to create six inverted sentences. You may not add anything except commas.

                I won the trophy.

    4. We participated in a close analysis of "To an Athlete Dying Young" and the Mnemoic Device I gave out yesterday is designed to assist you in such an analysis.

    5. Read a sample close analysis of a prose paragraph from Eudora Welty's "Old Mr. Marblehall" on pages 24-5 in textbook.

    6. We will often read and analyze a text closely in this cours, but we must also be prepared to zoom out from the details and see the work from a broader, wider perspective. When called upon to state a theme of a work, we must be able to see how little things add up to something big.                   

    7. Discuss "The First Day" by Edward P. Jones in terms of seeing themes presented in the short story.  

    8. Arrive at several statements of theme that are seen in "The First Day". 

    9. Receive a copy of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

    HW:  Write one statement of theme as seen in "The First Day". Email it to me at orianic@gcufsd.net


    Wed., Sept. 18

    1. Complete discussion of "To an Athlete Dying Young". 

    2. Receive Mnemonic Device for Analysis.

    3. Discuss denotation versus connotation. 

    4. Receive a copy of "The First Day". Email me if you need a copy.

    HW: Read and annotate "The First Day" by Edward P. Jones. Feel and think your way through the piece. Observe, question and make inferences. 


    Tuesday, Sept. 17

    1. Work with a partner to share observations and to explore questions about "To an Athlete Dying Young".

    2. Discuss the poem as a class.

    3. Recognize how observations lead to questions and questions lead to inferences.

    HW: None


    Monday, Sept. 16

    1. Read an excerpt from Willa Cather's My Antonia.

             A. FEEL your way through the excerpt; annotate.

             B. THINK your way through the excerpt; annotate.

                         i. Make observations.

                         ii. Pose questions.

    2. Share some of the questions you wrote. Read through a list of questions students have written. Note that the most productive questions grow out of what the students have observed. 

      What is the effect of the shorter sentences toward the middle of the passage?

      Why is the speaker so content with “nothing happening?”

      Is there a reason why the speaker often begins sentences with “I did…” or “I was…”?

      Why does the narrator compare happiness to death?

      What does the “it” refer to in the last line?

      Do the snakes and garden setting allude to the Garden of Eden?

      Is there any significance in the personification of some of the garden’s inhabitants?

      What does vermillion mean?

    3. Read "To an Athlete Dying Young" and annotate it as you FEEL your way through it.

    4. Make observations about "To an Athlete Dying Young" as you THINK your way through it.

    HW: Write 6 questions that grow out of the observations you made when reading "To an Athlete Dying Young."


    Friday, Sept. 13

    1. Assemble in a circle.

    2. Participate in Seminar on Tender is the Night.

    3. Earn points by commenting and also by citing textual evidence.

    HW: Add to your reflection. The seminar should have prompted you to think beyond your initial ideas. Keep exploring identity as it is presented in the novel. On Monday, I will collect 3 pages of notes as well as the type-written reflection. Your reflection should be 350 words in length with the following heading:

    Name                                                Date

    AP Literature                                   Class Period 




    Thursday, Sept. 12

    1. Form small groups.

    2. Select two subtopics for discussion. Discuss.

    3. Gather four additional pieces of textual evidence. 

    HW: Begin writing a reflection based on your group's discussion (150-word exploration - follow your thoughts where they lead you; no special structure necessary). Bring it to class tomorrow along with the notes and the novel.

    Seminar Prompt for tomorrow: 

    Woven into Tender is the Night’s exploration of its characters’ psychology is the question of identity. For this seminar, consider as an overarching question how the book addresses identity: how it’s formed, how or why it shifts, how it affects our experiences in the world, as well as the roles of performance and consciousness in identity.


    Wed., Sept. 11

    1. Read and/or reread Tender Is the Night

    2. Take notes.

    HW: Bring Tender is the Night and your summer reading notes to class. 

    Small group work on Thursday will include the following topics:

    1. Violence

    2. Performance

    3. Parents and Children

    4. Marriage and Relationships

    5. Intersections with The Great Gatsby

    6. Social Strata

    7. Gender Roles and Identity

    8. Setting and Identity

    9. Role of Youth

    10. Morality, Immorality, Amorality


    Tuesday, Sept. 10

    1. Reread and annotate the excerpt from The Scarlet Letter with step one in mind. Write words that indicate your emotional response to the text. Step one prepares you for step two.

    2. Listen to the words that indicate my emotional response to the piece. Share your emotional response and what triggered it. 

    3. Reread and annotate with step two in mind. Analyze the text: observe; question and infer. 

    4. Share your observations, questions and inferences. Analyzing the text is at the core of AP Literature. 

    5. Let's consider step three: Extend (Connect to ideas or material outside the text).

    6. Biographical background: Nathaniel Hawthorne's ancestor was one of the judges in the Salem witchcraft trials. Extend: How might this family history relate to Hawthorne's novel?

    7. Extend: The US imprisons its citizenry at a higher rate than any other country in the world. How might this present-day reality relate to the roots of our nation?


    Monday, Sept. 9

    1. A 3-Step Approach to Reading:

    1. Experience: (Feel)
      • Respond subjectively, emotionally, personally
    2. Analyze: (Think)
      • Observe, observe, observe
      • Ask questions
      • Draw inferences
    3. Extend: (Connect)
      • Relate to biographical, historical, literary research
      • Relate to ideas in the world, other literature, other disciplines

    2. Read and feel your way through "Shawl" by Albert Goldbarth. 

    3. Write a journal response for 6 minutes discussing your personal experience of the poem. Share with others.

    4. Read and feel your way through "Introduction to Poetry" by Billy Collins.

    5. Write a journal response for 6 minutes discussing your personal experience of the poem. Share with others.

    6. Read and feel your way through an excerpt from Nathaniel Hwathorne's The Scarlet Letter. Annotate with the emotions you experience.

    HW: Please note the prompt for our upcoming seminar: 

    Woven into Tender is the Night’s exploration of its characters’ psychology is the question of identity. For this seminar, consider as an overarching question how the book addresses identity: how it’s formed, how or why it shifts, how it affects our experiences in the world, as well as the roles of performance and consciousness in identity.

    Small group work on Thursday will include the following topics:

    1. Violence

    2. Performance

    3. Parents and Children

    4. Marriage and Relationships

    5. Intersections with The Great Gatsby

    6. Social Strata

    7. Gender Roles and Identity

    8. Setting and Identity

    9. Role of Youth

    10. Morality, Immorality, Amorality


    Friday, Sept. 6

    1. Consider: 

               Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --

               Success in Circuit lies

    2. Make observations about these lines.

    3. Pose questions about these lines.

    4. Make inferences about these lines.

    5. Read entire poem:

                Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --

                Success in Circuit lies

                Too bright for our infirm Delight

                The Truth's superb surprise


                As Lightning to the Children eased

                With explanation kind

                The Truth must dazzle gradually

                Or every man be blind --

                                      Emily Dickinson

    6. Continue doing the above.

    7. A 3-Step Approach to Reading:

    1. Experience: (Feel)
      • Respond subjectively, emotionally, personally
    2. Analyze: (Think)
      • Observe, observe, observe
      • Ask questions
      • Draw inferences
    3. Extend: (Connect)
      • Relate to biographical, historical, literary research
      • Relate to ideas in the world, other literature, other disciplines


    Thursday, Sept. 5

    1. Introduce yourself and mention one thing that relates to something from our first two classes together.

    2. Introduction to class webpage with Course Overview, Grading Policy, Classwork and Assignments, Handouts and Links (on GCHS's website under my name in the English Department).

    3. Join Remind: Enter 81010; text @43h8d9

    4. Consider: 

                Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --

                Success in Circuit lies

    HW: Finish reading Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald if you have not already done so. The seminar will take place next Friday, and a day of small-group preparation will take place on Thursday. 


    Wed., Sept. 4

    1. Recall the thoughts I shared with you yesterday. Reflect on them. Recognize the various regions through which your reflections might traverse. For instance, you may think about how I was thinking; what I was thinking about; how my thoughts intersect and influence your thoughts; how my process of thinking resembles or differs from yours; what it is you wish to remember; what you wish to discard and why; and what you wish to follow through on in some way and why. How does it feel to think?

    2. Now, take 25 minutes to write down your reflections. Allow your writing to flow freely; there’s no need to organize your thoughts for this assignment. Write as though you were making a journal entry. Remember: thinking can be messy.

    3. Review the "16 Habits of Mind". Which habits did you emply in class yesterday and today? Add to your reflection. 

    4. Share your reflection with someone. 

    5. Handin your reflection.

    HW: Finish reading Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald if you have not already done so. 


    Tuesday, Sept. 3

    1. District Initiative: "Making Thinking Visible"

    2. Listen to my thoughts as I make my thinking "visible".

    3. Receive a copy of the "16 Habits of Mind" by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick

    4. Notes from my thinking:

    Making Thinking Visible - Karin Morrison, Mark Church, and Ron Ritchhart

    Habits of Mind – Arthur L. Costa, Bena Kallick

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (2008)

    • pleasure vs. enjoyment
    • greatest enjoyment occurs when skill sets are challenged and promote growth

                The Evolving Self (1994)

    • Exhorts us to develop complexity

    Buckminster Fuller – inventor, architect, philosopher

    • Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

    Synergy - The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.


    James Balog – geographer, photographer, outdoorsman

    Differentiation into the Self

    Integration into a Community

    Complexity = Differentiation + Integration

    Art = Complexity

    James Balog – geographer, photographer, outdoorsman

    • Chasing Ice (film, 2012) photographic chronical of melting glaciers

    Chinese character for person

    Native peoples teach that the ultimate norm for morality is the impact our choices have on persons living seven generations from now.