War

Read “War,” by Timothy Findley.

Do you think you really understand why adults do the things they do?

Respond to the Story

  • Whose war does the author refer to in the title? Support your view with examples from the story.
  • With a small group, discuss whether you think the way Neil reacts to his father leaving is typical of a ten-year-old boy. Why do you think he throws the stones?
  • Like most stories, the action builds up to an event that’s the high point or climax. What is the climax of “War”?

Explore Personal Feelings
Have you ever felt so strongly about something that you lost control of your emotions or the way you acted? What event or situation in your life made you lose control? Jot down in note form what happened, how you felt at the time, how you felt afterwards, and how the situation was resolved.

Use your notes to write a story about that incident. You might use a structure similar to “War.” The beginning could introduce the main characters and the problem or situation. The middle section could explore how everyone had to deal with this problem. The climax could occur when you (or your character) lose control. The end could briefly describe how everything was resolved.

When you write your story, how do you write conversations between characters? Could your style be improved? How?

A Sunrise on the Veld

Read “A Sunrise on the Veld,” by Doris Lessing

Respond to the Story

  • Describe the boy’s feelings and state of mid before he comes upon the buck. Describe a time in your life when you experienced a similar emotion.
  • Why does the boy not shoot the buck?
  • How does the boy feel at the end of the story? What has caused his mood to change so dramatically?

Poetic Language
The author, Doris Lessing, expresses the boy’s thoughts and feelings very poetically in the two paragraphs before the boy hears the buck’s cries. With a partner, discuss some of these phrases and the images they create. What emotions do the images raise? Is the use of poetic language effective? What types of writing techniques are used?

Using phrases from these two paragraphs, write a poem that expresses the character’s joy at being young and alive. You could draw or find an illustration that captures the spirit of your poem.

Thank You Ma’am

Read “Thank You Ma’am,” by Langston Hughes.

Langston Hughes

 

Respond to the Story

  • The first sentence of the story suggests that the tone will be humorous. What other details in the story add to the humorous effect?
  • Despite the light tone, the story deals with a serious subject. Which details in the story tell you that the purpose of the story is more serious?
  • Do you think that meeting Mrs. Jones will turn out to be a turning point in Roger’s life? Explain.
  • What is the kindest thing that a stranger has ever done for you or someone you know?
Create a Thank-You Letter
Write a thank-you letter to Mrs. Jones using the point of view or voice of Roger after several years have passed. In the letter, you should review the events and the effect her kindness had on Roger. Tell her about what has happened since. Remember the course focus, “The Human Condition – In Search of Self.” Try to include some comments about how Mrs. Jones changed Roger’s life.