SUMMER READING ASSIGNMENT:

 

Read the first two plays in the Theban Trilogy: Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King) and Oedipus at Colonus. You are responsible for getting your own copy of the works. Try this site to download a free e-text version of the trilogy: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/31.

 

Answer the discussion questions for each play. Please have this ready by the first week of school. Specific due dates will be given during the first week of school.

 

Each group will submit one paper with the answers to the questions. Each group member is responsible for answering at least one question and should write her/his name next to the number of the question(s) that he/she answered. Due 10/4 along with the mini-movie.

 

Oedipus Rex Discussion Questions:

1.       What are your first impressions of Oedipus as a person and ruler?

2.       Oedipus’ kingdom, Thebes, is beset by the plague and agricultural decline – “crises.” What does this foreshadow for the characters during the remainder of the play?

3.       What did Oedipus hope to gain by sending his wife’s brother, Creon, to pray to the Oracle at Delphi?

4.       What can only be termed as “magical thinking” permits Oedipus to connect the murder of Laius, former ruler of Thebes, with the state of the kingdom at the outset of the play. On what religious or moral premise must such a connection be based?

5.       As readers or playgoers, we would not question the sincerity of Oedipus’ extended speech if we didn’t already suspect that someone other than a cold-blooded murderer is responsible for the death of Laius and the state of Thebes. What makes us think there is some other reason for these events (even if we already know that Oedipus himself performed the crime)?

6.       Why does Tiresias initially refrain from divulging the truth to Oedipus and assembled others?

7.       What is Oedipus’ response to Tireseias’ refusal, and then later, to his accusations?

8.       Tiresias replies that he is beholden to no one but Apollo – the “higher authority” that the Greeks thought was God. This allows him to speak the painful truth to Oedipus. What caused Tiresias to change his mind and speak the truth?

9.       Now that you have seen Oedipus react directly to adversity, is your opinion of him different? Would you characterize Oedipus as evil, or merely human, in his angry reaction to Tiresias’ speeches?

10.   With whom does “I” of the Chorus identify as it vows to keep an open mind about Oedipus until there is “certain proof” of his guilt?

11.   Creon tells Oedipus that he has “lost his sense of balance” and is “sullen in yielding and brutal in rage.” Is Oedipus’ anger measured, or does it seem paranoid to you?

12.   What effect do the Chorus’ repeated vows of faith for his “good helmsmanship” have on your perceptions of Oedipus? Would you feel the same way if there were no Chorus speeches?

13.   Why did the lone surviving slave of Laius’ party plead with Jocasta to leave Thebes when he saw Oedipus on the throne? Does this explain why Oedipus wants him back?

14.   Oedipus calls himself an “abomination” for killing his father and marrying his mother. If he was aware of neither, why does he call himself evil? Is a man responsible for the evil of his actions if he is truly unaware that they are evil? Explain Oedipus’ ancient Greek thinking and your own.

15.   The death of polybus raises the question in everyone’s mind but those who know the truth – “Is Oedipus’ biological father Laius or polybus?” What does it say about Oedipus and his feelings of guilt (or lack of) that he clings to the illusion that Polybus was really his biological father?

16.   “Many a man before you, in his dreams, has shared his mother’s bed.” Explain the significance of this statement of Jocasta’s in relation to the significance of this play down through the ages.

17.   In a short paragraph, recount the events that lead up to the self-blinding of Oedipus.

18.   Does it seem fair for Oedipus to call himself “the worst of men?” Why or why not?

19.   What basis is there for Oedipus’ fears that his daughters will not easily find spouses?

20.   “Count no man happy till (Oedipus) dies,” says the Chorus to the audience. Why?

 

 

Oedipus at Colonus Discussion Questions:

21.   What is the difference between Oedipus’ relationship with his daughter Antigone, and with his other daughter Ismene?

22.   Although there is little or no onstage violence in the Theban plays, the characters in Oedipus at Colonus are very much concerned with war. What different things does war mean to each of the play’s characters?

23.   All three of the Theban plays are shaped by Oedipus’ incestuous marriage to Jocasta. What do these plays suggest about incest?

24.   In each of the three plays, the Chorus repeatedly gives us moral lessons, often condemning pride. Are we to take the proclamations of the Chorus as absolute truth, or is the Chorus just as fallible as the other characters? Is pride really the catalyst for all of the catastrophes of the plays?


English II Honors Assignment

Summer Reading – Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus Mini-Movie

Due: 10/4

 

Divide into two groups – Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus. Each group member should assume a specific role: actor/wardrobe, script writer/director, videographer/film editor:

 

·         Actor/Wardrobe – there are at least 10 roles and can be combined by actors if needed. Each actor is responsible for her/his costume(s). Actors may use script cards (index cards only) while filming but must have clearly rehearsed prior to filming.

·         Script writer/Director – this person will choose the dialogue for the mini-movie and determine which lines are necessary and which lines can be combined or omitted. The script writer must provide a hard copy of the script to all group members. Once filming begins, this person will assume the role of director and help with staging and lines.

·         Videographer/Film Editor – this person must have computer editing abilities at home. The camera used to film will be school property, but the videographer is responsible for the media hardware.

 

As a group, you will film a mini-movie of the play. You may stay after school to film, but you must let your teacher know in advance that you plan to stay. Be sure to mention all important aspects of the play and introduce the characters because your viewers will be exposed to this information for the first time while watching your movie. You may use the original text, or you may update the language – be sure to use appropriate language and keep it reasonable. Refer to the rubric for specific details and requirements.

 

Facts that should be mentioned somewhere in the movie: (Your audience will be answering these questions while watching your movie)

1.       Author

2.       Names of the three plays in the Theban Trilogy

3.       Oedipus’ tragic flaw

4.       Meaning of the name “Oedipus”

5.       Sphinx’s riddle and the answer

6.       Clarify Oedipus’ real parents

7.       Setting

8.       Which of Oedipus’ sons should rightfully become king?

9.       Who is ruling Thebes in Oedipus’ place?

10.   Where is Oedipus’ final resting place?

11.   What is ironic about the prophet Tiresias?

12.   Athens receives Oedipus’ ______ and Thebes receives his _____.

 

 

 

English II Honors Assignment Rubric

Summer Reading – Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus Mini-Movie

 

 

CATEGORY

12.5

10

7

5

Knowledge

All students showed excellent knowledge of content, needing no cues and showing no hesitation while filming. Names and places were pronounced correctly.

All students showed good knowledge of content, but 1-2 students needed prompting or referred frequently to note cards. 1-2 names and/or places were mispronounced.

Most students showed good knowledge of content, but 3-4 often needed prompting or referred to note cards regularly. Many names and/or places were mispronounced.

Most students needed prompting or read directly from note cards. No evidence of rehearsal is evident. Names and/or places were mispronounced.

Required Facts

All required facts have been correctly included in the movie.

1-2 required facts have been omitted from the movie OR 1-2 facts are incorrect.

3-4 facts have been omitted from the movie OR 3-4 facts are incorrect.

5 or more facts have been omitted from the movie OR 5 or more facts are incorrect.

Costume & Props

All students are appropriately costumed and props have been used for effect.

Most students are appropriately costumed and some props have been used.

Several students are not costumed or the costumes are inappropriate. A few props have been used.

Most students are not costumed or the costumes are inappropriate. No props have been used.

Videography – Clarity

The video did not rock or shake and the focus was excellent throughout.

The video did not rock or shake and the focus was good for the majority of the video.

The video had a little rocking or shaking, but the focus was good for the majority of the video.

The video had a significant amount of rocking or shaking and the focus was not very good.

Videography – Interest

The video offered many different “takes,” camera angles, sound effects, and/or careful use of zoom provided variety in the video.

The video offered several different “takes,” camera angles, sound effects, and/or careful use of zoom provided variety in the video.

One or two different “takes,” camera angles, sound effects, and/or careful use of zoom provided some variety in the video.

Little attempt was made to provide variety in the video.

Length of Video

Video is 12-15 minutes in length.

Video is 10-12 minutes in length.

Video is 6-9 minutes in length.

Video is 5 minutes or less in length.

Titles & Credits

All titles and credits are accurate, legible and draw the viewer’s attention.

Most titles and credits are accurate, legible and draw the viewer’s attention.

Some titles and credits are accurate, legible and draw the viewer’s attention.

Few (less than 75%) titles and credits are accurate, legible and draw the viewer’s attention.

Interest & Purpose

The video has a clear and interesting purpose.

The video is interesting but the purpose is somewhat unclear.

The video is not very interesting and the purpose is somewhat unclear.

The video is not interesting and has no discernible purpose.

Total Points

_____/100

 

 

 

 

 

English II Honors Assignment

Video Presentation Fact Sheet

 

Please record the following information while viewing the videos chronicling Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus.

 

1.       Who is the author of the Theban Trilogy?

2.       What are the names of the three plays in the Theban Trilogy?

3.       What is Oedipus’ tragic flaw?

4.       What is the meaning of the name “Oedipus”?

5.       What are the Sphinx’s riddle and the answer?

6.       Clarify who Oedipus’ real parents are.

7.       What is the setting of the plays?

8.       Which of Oedipus’ sons should rightfully become king?

9.       Who is ruling Thebes in Oedipus’ place?

10.   Where is Oedipus’ final resting place?

11.   What is ironic about the prophet Tiresias?

12.   Athens receives Oedipus’ ______ and Thebes receives his _____.

13.   Provide another fact about the videos.

14.   Provide another fact about the videos.

15.   Provide another fact about the videos.

 


 

English II & World History Honors Assignment Semester 1 Rubric

Machiavelli’s The Prince

Name: _______________________________________________________________________________________  Period: _________________

 

Activity

Requirements

Points Awarded

PART I

DUE DATE: 9/27

 

Florentine Getaway

Brochure includes:

·         General introduction to the destination on the front cover [30 pts.]

·         Pictures and graphics of Florence in 1500 [30 pts.]

·         A map of the city in 1500 [15 pts.]

·         Information on popular attractions (3) [45 pts.]

·         Information about cultural life in 1500 (2) [30 pts.]

·         Information about political, religious, military (2) [30 pts.]

·         Information comparing Florence with other European destinations in terms of modern convenience, science, technology (2) [30 pts.]

·         Feature page on Niccolo Machiavelli (3 ¶) [45 pts.]

 

 

 

Total Points [255]

PART II

DUE DATE: 11/12

 

The Lion and the Fox: The Ultimate Defense

·         ¶1 – persona of fox, lion, wolf [40 pts.]

·         ¶2 – imitation [40 pts.]

·         ¶3 – modern politics [40 pts.]

 

Who Are You Calling Machiavellian?

·         ¶1 – definition [20 pts.]

·         ¶2 – meaning [20 pts.]

·         ¶3 – power & limitations [20 pts.]

·         ¶4 – Machiavellian [20 pts.]

 

 

 

Total Points [200]

PART III

DUE DATE: 1/12

 

Mac(hiavelli) the Knife or Mr. Softie?

·         ¶1 [30 pts.]

·         ¶2 [30 pts.]

·         ¶3 [30 pts.]

·         Chart [30 pts.]

 

“No Care or Thought but for War”

·         ¶1 – ruler [40 pts.]

·         ¶2 – response to quotes [45 pts.]

·         ¶3 – your views [40 pts.]

 

 

 

Total Points [245]

 

 

 

English II & World History Honors Assignment

Machiavelli’s The Prince

E-text available at http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince00.htm

 

Due Date: November 11, 2009 & January 6, 2010

 

Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince has become part of our cultural fabric, so much that we find it hard to separate fact from fiction in our accounts of this work. This has been true since the Renaissance, when Machiavelli was conveyed into England as a figure of pure diabolical evil; as he appears in Machiavelli-like characters, such as Shakespeare’s villain Iago. These activities are designed to freshen our awareness, help us to examine our values, and encourage a careful look under the masks of politics, where nothing is ever quite what it is purported to be.

 

Activities:

1.       Florentine Getaway

2.       The Lion and the Fox: The Ultimate Defense

3.       Who Are You Calling Machiavellian?

4.       Mac(hevelli) The Knife or Mr. Softie?

5.       No Care or Thought But For War

 

 

Florentine Getaway

 

Many of Machiavelli’s points seem universally applicable, but some of his arguments seem nonsensical if not viewed through the lens of fifteenth and sixteenth century Italian and European history. Create a travel brochure for Florence, Italy in the year 1500 (approximately). Your brochure must highlight the most important and most appealing aspects of the city in this time, and you must write the brochure to appeal to a general traveler who knows little to nothing about this time or place.

 

Requirements:

·         General introduction to the destination on the front cover

·         Pictures and graphics of Florence in 1500

·         A map of the city in 1500

·         Information on popular attractions in 1500 (impressive government buildings, cathedrals, parks, etc.) (3)

·         Information about the cultural life of the city in 1500 (what’s going on in music, art, literature, architecture) (2)

·         Information about political, religious,  and military forces that a traveler in 1500 might encounter (2)

·         Information about how the Florence compares with other major European destinations in terms of modern convenience, science, and technology

·         A feature page on Niccolo Machiavelli that includes general biography information (3¶)

 

 

The Lion and the Fox: The Ultimate Defense

 

“A prince being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves.  One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.” (The Prince, Chapter XVIII, 84)

 

1.       Take on the persona of a fox, lion, and wolf. Respond to the following questions in a paragraph:

Is the lion careful? Is the fox brave? Are wolves’ patient? Does the lion have many friends? Do the wolves work alone or together? How would each animal respond in the following situations? What if a bigger animal threatened you? What if you saw a human with a gun? What if you saw something you wanted (like a hen or some meat that belongs to someone else) that was difficult to get?

 

2.       Respond in a paragraph:

Why does Machiavelli state that a prince must “imitate the fox and the lion”? What kind of person does this image imply? Think of examples – from real life, fiction, film or television – of people or characters that are foxes, lions, or combinations of both. Explain these examples in detail.

 

3.       Respond in a paragraph:

Apply the character descriptions from the lion and fox to modern politics. Would you prefer a leader who is a fox or a lion? Explain your response.

 

Who Are You Calling Machiavellian?

 

Words have their own histories, which as the Oxford English Dictionary can show us for English, are often ancient, circuitous, and at times capable of reversing original meanings.  The adjective “Machiavellian” has a history of its own, which derives from our traditional view of Machiavelli himself.

 

Machiavelli’s The Prince was published in 1513. Though it was not translated into English until 1640, it was well-known in England itself from the time of Innocent Gentillet’s Anti-Machiavel (1576). As we can tell from the title, Gentillet’s book was hostile to anything connected with Machiavelli. English readers of the Elizabethan period, including great dramatists like Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, and William Shakespeare, picked up the still-current connotation of “Machiavellian,” defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “the doctrine that any means however lawless or unscrupulous may be justifiably employed by a ruler in order to establish and maintain a strong central government.”

 

Definitions of “Machiavellian”:

 

“the doctrine that any means however lawless or unscrupulous may be justifiably employed by a ruler in order to establish and maintain a strong central government.” – Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language

 

“characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty.” – infoplease.com

 

“using clever but often dishonest methods which deceive people so that you can gain power or control” – Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary

 

“suggestive of or characterized by expediency, deceit, and cunning” – American Heritage Dictionary

 

 

1.       Discuss (in writing 1¶) the definition of Machiavellian. Does the Webster’s definition seem an accurate description of the political philosophy described in The Prince? Does our current definition of “Machiavellian” accurately represent what The Prince is all about?

2.       Are words reliable vehicles for meaning? Think about the following selection of words: American, moo, dog, freedom, liberal, conservative. Can you supply a straightforward definition, or are some words laden with connotations? How might someone from France, China, Somalia, or Iraq define these words? How might someone have defined these words 40 years ago or 400 years from now? Does perspective change the definition? Discuss all of this in a paragraph.

3.       What does Machiavelli think of power and limitations of language? Find three examples from the text to support your assertions. (1¶)

4.       “Machiavellian.” Is the word useful or misleading? Does it matter? Are any words reliable, or are all words subject to shifts in meaning due to context and perspective? (1¶)

Mac(hiavelli) the Knife of Mr. Softie?

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause, but above all things he must keep his hands off the property of others, because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.” (The Prince, Chapter XVII, 80-81)

1.       What do you think Machiavelli meant by such assertions as “love is held by the tie of obligation” and that the tie of obligation is “broken on every whisper of private interest.”? (1¶)

2.       At the end of Chapter XXI, Machiavelli insists that a prince should recognize merit and achievement in his state, and reward these virtues. He must be busy always with projects for the betterment of his state, and must display “the dignity of his station” at all times. Do you think Machiavelli is saying that a prince should be a “good man”? Or is princely goodness valued only for its powerful political uses? In Chapter XX, Machiavelli says that “the best fortress you can have is not being hated by your subjects.” Is this a backdoor way of saying the prince should be “loved” by his subjects? (1¶)

3.       Is the president of a large nation-state like ours in some sense viewed as a “father” of his people? Why do we speak of our Founding Fathers? Have we, or do we want to seem to have, a child-father relationship to our “rulers”? Should a political “father” truly love his “children,” or does he have more important responsibilities? What might those responsibilities be? What does Machiavelli think those responsibilities are? (1¶)

4.       Using the following chart, fill out the Mac the Knife/Mr. Softie chart. Under Mac the Knife, list the actual line from the text that supports the argument that Machiavelli believed a prince should be coldly calculating and do whatever necessary to maintain power. Under Mr. Softie, list contradictions to this view – anything that seems to show that Machiavelli believed a prince should be moral, caring, or loving, or any evidence that Machiavelli himself believed such values.

Mac(hiavelli) the Knife or Mr. Softie?

 

Mac the Knife

Mr. Softie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No Care or Thought but for War”

 

We need no reminding that “war is hell.” Yet we continue to fight wars, and Machiavelli says war is the chief concern of a prince. In Chapter XIII he writes that good laws and good arms are the two essential strengths of a state, and that good arms are the more important of the two. In Chapter XIV, he writes that a prince “should therefore have no other aim or thought, nor take up any other thing for his study, but war and its organization and discipline, for that is the only art that is necessary to one who commands…” Since man’s gift for self-destruction seems endless, we should try to understand the rationale for the sport of war, which we cannot rid ourselves of. Why does Machiavelli believe that the prince should have “no care or thought but for war?”

 

1.       “Between an armed and an unarmed man no proportion holds, and it is contrary to reason to expect that the armed man should voluntarily submit to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should stand secure among armed retainers. For with contempt on one side, and distrust on the other, it is impossible that men should work well together. Wherefore, as has already been said, a Prince who is ignorant of military affairs, besides other disadvantages, can neither be respected by his soldiers, nor can he trust them. A Prince, therefore, ought never to allow his attention to be diverted from warlike pursuits, and should occupy himself with them even more in peace than in war. This he can do in two ways, by practice or by study.”  (The Prince, Chapter XIV, 69) Discuss in a paragraph whether a ruler is only as strong as his weapons, and whether a ruler should constantly attend to military affairs.

 

2.       In one paragraph, apply your understanding of Machiavelli’s view of war to the statements made by: General George Patton, Commander of the U.S. 7th Army in WWII, and one of the most celebrated military leaders in American history; and Mahatma Gandhi, the revered spiritual leader whose campaign of nonviolent resistance to British rule ultimately led to independence for India.

 

“You just wait and see. The lily-livered b******* in Washington will demobilize. They’ll say they’ve made the word safe for democracy again. The Russians are not such d***ed fools. They’ll rebuild; and with modern weapons.”

 

Lt. Col. Charles R. Codman: You know General, sometimes the men don’t know when you’re acting.

Patton: It’s not important for them to know. It’s only important for me to know.

 

“We’ll win this war, but we’ll win it by fighting and by showing the Germans that we’ve got more guts than they have; or ever will have…War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours.”

 

“Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God help me, I do love it so!”

 

“Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.”

“There’s a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and is much less prevalent. One of the most frequently noted characteristics of great men who have remained great is loyalty to their subordinates.”

 

~General George. S. Patton, Jr.

 

 

“Peace will not come out of a clash of arms, but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.”

 

“Hatred ever kills, love never dies; such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.”

 

“Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty.”

 

“Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”

 

~Mahatma Gandhi

 

3.       Discuss your views in one paragraph on the value of war to the ruler; that is, not the broad question of the value of war, but the usefulness of war as a strategic weapon for the ruler or administration of a modern state.


English II & World History Honors Assignment

Semester 2

 

This assignment will be divided into three parts – one per grading period (4, 5, & 6). Read the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyle.

 

Part One – due March 1, 2010

Answer the discussion questions:

1.       Discuss the relationship between Bruno and Gretel. Why does Bruno seem younger than nine? In a traditional fable, characters are usually one-dimensional. How might Bruno and Gretel be considered one dimensional? (2¶s)

2.       At age 12, Gretel is the proper age for membership in the League of Young Girls, a branch of Hitler’s Youth Organization. Why do you think she is not a member, especially since her father is a high-ranking officer in Hitler’s army? (1¶)

3.       What is it about the house at Out-With that makes Bruno feel “cold and unsafe”? (p. 20) How is this feeling perpetuated as he encounters people like Pavel, Maria, Lt. Kotler, and Shmuel? (1¶)

4.       Describe his reaction when he first sees the people in the striped pajamas. What does Gretel mean when she says, “Something about the way [Bruno] was watching made her feel suddenly nervous”? (p. 28) How does this statement foreshadow Bruno’s ultimate demise? (2¶s)

5.       Bruno asks his father about the people outside their house at Auschwitz. His father answers, “They’re not people at all, Bruno.” (p. 53) Discuss the horror of this attitude. How does his father’s statement make Bruno more curious about Out-With? (1-2¶s)

6.       Explain what Bruno’s mother means when she says, “We don’t have the luxury of thinking.” (p. 13) Identify scenes (3) from the novel that Bruno’s mother isn’t happy about their life at Out-With. Debate whether she is unhappy being away from Berlin, or whether she is angry about her husband’s position. How does Bruno’s grandmother react to her son’s military role? (2-3¶s)

7.       When Bruno and his family board the train for Auschwitz, he notices an overcrowded train headed in the same direction. How does he later make the connection between Shmuel and that train? How are both trains symbolic of each boy’s final journey? (1-2¶s)

8.       Bruno issues a protest about leaving Berlin. His father responds, “Do you think that I would have made such a success of my life if I hadn’t learned when to argue and when to keep my mouth shut and follow orders?” (p. 49) What question might Bruno’s father ask at the end of the novel? Explain what his answer might be. (1¶)

9.       A pun is most often seen as humorous. But, in this novel the narrator uses dark or solemn puns like Out-With and Fury to convey certain meanings. Bruno is simply mispronouncing the real words, but the author is clearly asking the reader to consider a double meaning to these words. Discuss the use of this wordplay (3 examples) as a literary device. What is the narrator trying to convey to the reader? How do these words further communicate the horror of the situation? (1-2¶s)

10.   When Bruno dresses in the filthy striped pajamas, he remembers something his grandmother once said. “You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be.” (p. 205) How is this true for Bruno? What about his father? What does this statement contribute to the overall meaning of the story? (1¶)

11.   Discuss the moral or message of the novel. What new insights and understandings does John Boyne want the reader to gain from reading this story? (1-2¶s)

12.   Discuss the differences in a fable, an allegory, and a proverb. How might this story fit into each genre? (3¶s – 1 per genre)

 

Response

Score

Criteria

Exemplary

10

·      The answer is complete.

·      All information provided is accurate.

·      The answer demonstrates a deep understanding of the content.

·      Writing is well organized, cohesive, and easy to read. 

Competent

9

·      The answer is missing slight details.

·      All information provided is accurate.

·      The answer demonstrates understanding of the content.

·      Writing is well organized, cohesive, and easy to read. 

Minor Flaws

8

·      The answer is missing multiple details.

·      All information provided is accurate.

·      The answer demonstrates basic understanding of the content.

·      Writing is organized, cohesive, and easy to read. 

Satisfactory

7

·       The answer does not address a portion of the question, or major details are missing.

·      Almost all information provided is accurate.

·      The answer demonstrates basic understanding of the content.

·      Writing is organized, cohesive, and easy to read

Nearly Satisfactory

6

·      The answer is lacking major details and/or does not address a portion of the question. 

·      Most information provided is accurate.

·      The answer demonstrates less than basic understanding of the content.

·      Writing may be unorganized, not cohesive, and difficult to read.

Fails to Complete

4

·      The answer to the question is lacking any detail.

·      Some information provided is accurate.

·      The answer demonstrates a lack of understanding of the content.

·      Writing may be unorganized, not cohesive, and difficult to read.  

Unable to begin effectively

2

·      Question is not answered. 

·      A small amount to none of the information provided is accurate.

·      The answer demonstrates a lack of understanding of the content.

·      Writing is unorganized, not cohesive, and very difficult to read. 

No attempt

0

·      Answer was left blank.

 

Question

Points Awarded

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

9

 

10

 

11

 

12

 

Total Points

 

Part Two – due April 12, 2010

Read the article by Rabbi Benjamin Blech. Write a three to five paragraph paper (typed, double space) supporting Rabbi Blech’s view OR disagreeing with Rabbi Blech’s view. Use specific details from the novel and the article to support your viewpoint.

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

This well-meaning book ends up distorting the Holocaust.

Soon there will be no more eyewitnesses. The Holocaust is inexorably moving from personal testimony to textual narrative.

Survivors, those who clung to life no matter how unbearable so that they could confirm the unimaginable and attest to the unbelievable, are harder to find after more than half a century. It is the written word that will have to substitute for the heart-rending tales of woe shared by those who endured hell on earth. That is, after all, all that will remain of six million victims.

Holocaust authors have a daunting responsibility.

Holocaust authors have a daunting responsibility. They must speak for those who cannot, but whose suffering demands to be remembered and whose deaths cry out for posthumous meaning. Their task transcends the mere recording of history. It is nothing less than a sacred mission. Holocaust literature, like the biblical admonition to remember the crimes of Amalek, deservedly rises to the level of the holy.

For that reason I admire anyone who is courageous enough to attempt to deal with the subject. No, there will never be too many books about this dreadful period we would rather forget. No, we have no right to ignore the past because it is unpleasant or refuse to let reality intrude on our preference for fun and for laughter. And John Boyne is to be commended for tackling a frightening story that needs to be told to teenagers today in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas -- a fictional account of the Nazi era that uses the powerful device of a tale told from the perspective of its nine year old hero.

I came to this book fully prepared to love it. Although the publisher insists that all reviewers not reveal its story, the back cover promises "As memorable an introduction to the subject as The Diary of Anne Frank." And indeed the writing is gripping. The style, sharing with Anne Frank the distinctive voice of youth, is extremely effective. One can readily understand why the book has had such a strong impact on countless readers, become required reading in high school Holocaust courses round the country, and is about to be released as a major motion picture.

And yet…

How should one react to a book that ostensibly seeks to inform while it so blatantly distorts? If it is meant as a way of understanding what actually happened -- and indeed for many students it will be the definitive and perhaps only Holocaust account to which they will be exposed -- how will its inaccuracies affect the way in which readers will remain oblivious to the most important moral message we are to discover in the holocaust's aftermath?

Without giving away the plot, it is enough to tell you that Bruno, the nine-year-old son of the Nazi Commandant at Auschwitz (never identified by that name, but rather as "Out-With" -- a lame pun I think out of place in context) lives within yards of the concentration camp his father oversees and actually believes that its inhabitants who wear striped pajamas -- oh, how lucky, he thinks, to be able to be so comfortably dressed --spend their time on vacation drinking in cafes on the premises while their children are happily playing games all day long even as he envies them their carefree lives and friendships! And, oh yes, this son of a Nazi in the mid 1940's does not know what a Jew is, and whether he is one too! And after a year of surreptitious meetings with a same-aged nine-year-old Jewish boy who somehow manages every day to find time to meet him at an unobserved fence (!) (Note to the reader: There were no nine-year-old Jewish boys in Auschwitz -- the Nazis immediately gassed those not old enough to work) Bruno still doesn't have a clue about what is going on inside this hell -- this after supposedly sharing an intimate friendship with someone surrounded by torture and death every waking moment!

According to the book's premise, it was possible to live in the immediate proximity of Auschwitz and simply not know -- the defense of those Germans who denied their complicity.

Do you see the most egregious part of this picture? As Elie Wiesel put it, the cruelest lesson of the Holocaust was not man's capacity for inhumanity -- but the far more prevalent and dangerous capacity for indifference. There were millions who knew and did nothing. There were "good people" who watched -- as if passivity in the face of evil was sinless. If there is to be a moral we must exact from the Holocaust it is the "never again" that must henceforth be applied to our cowardice to intervene, our failure to react when evildoers rush in to fill the ethical vacuum.

Yet if we were to believe the premise of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, it was possible to live in the immediate proximity of Auschwitz and simply not know -- the very defense of all those Germans after the war who chose to deny their complicity.

True, Bruno in the story was but a boy. But I have spoken to Auschwitz survivors. They tell me how the stench of burning human flesh and the ashes of corpses from the crematoria filled the air for miles around. The trains traveling with human cargo stacked like cordwood screaming for water as they died standing in their natural wastes without even room to fall to the ground were witnessed throughout every countryside. Nobody, not even little German children who were weaned on hatred of the Jews as subhuman vermin could have been unaware of "The Final Solution." And to suggest that Bruno simply had no idea what was happening in the camp his father directed yards from his home is to allow the myth that those who were not directly involved can claim innocence.

But it's only a fable, a story, and stories don't have to be factually accurate. It's just a naive little boy who makes mistaken assumptions. However that misses the point. This is a story that is supposed to convey truths about one of the most horrendous eras of history. It is meant to lead us to judgments about these events that will determine what lessons we ultimately learn from them.

So what will the students studying this as required reading take away from it? The camps certainly weren't that bad if youngsters like Shmuley, Bruno's friend, were able to walk about freely, have clandestine meetings at a fence (non-electrified, it appears) which even allows for crawling underneath it, never reveals the constant presence of death, and survives without being forced into full-time labor. And as for those people in the striped pajamas -- why if you only saw them from a distance you would never know these weren't happy masqueraders!

My Auschwitz friend read the book at my urging. He wept, and begged me tell everyone that this book is not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation. No one may dare alter the truths of the Holocaust, no matter how noble his motives.

The Holocaust is simply too grim a subject for Grimm fairytales.

 

Name _______________________________________________ Period __________

 

CATEGORY

17

15

12

10

Support for Topic (Content)

Relevant, telling, quality details give the reader important information that goes beyond the obvious or predictable.

Supporting details and information are relevant, but one key issue or portion of the storyline is unsupported.

Supporting details and information are relevant, but several key issues or portions of the storyline are unsupported.

Supporting details and information are typically unclear or not related to the topic.

Pacing (Organization)

The pacing is well-controlled. The writer knows when to slow down and elaborate, and when to pick up the pace and move on.

The pacing is generally well-controlled but the writer occasionally does not elaborate enough.

The pacing is generally well-controlled but the writer sometimes repeats the same point over and over, or spends too much time on details that don't matter.

The pacing often feels awkward to the reader. The writer elaborates when there is little need, and then leaves out necessary supporting information.

Flow & Rhythm (Sentence Fluency)

All sentences sound natural and are easy-on-the-ear when read aloud. Each sentence is clear and has an obvious emphasis.

Almost all sentences sound natural and are easy-on-the-ear when read aloud, but 1 or 2 are stiff and awkward or difficult to understand.

Most sentences sound natural and are easy-on-the-ear when read aloud, but several are stiff and awkward or are difficult to understand.

The sentences are difficult to read aloud because they sound awkward, are distractingly repetitive, or difficult to understand.

Word Choice

Writer uses vivid words and phrases that linger or draw pictures in the reader's mind, and the choice and placement of the words seems accurate, natural and not forced.

Writer uses vivid words and phrases that linger or draw pictures in the reader's mind, but occasionally the words are used inaccurately or seem overdone.

Writer uses words that communicate clearly, but the writing lacks variety, punch or flair.

Writer uses a limited vocabulary that does not communicate strongly or capture the reader's interest. Jargon or cliches may be present and detract from the meaning.

Adding Personality (Voice)

The writer seems to be writing from knowledge or experience. The author has taken the ideas and made them "his own."

The writer seems to be drawing on knowledge or experience, but there is some lack of ownership of the topic.

The writer relates some of his own knowledge or experience, but it adds nothing to the discussion of the topic.

The writer has not tried to transform the information in a personal way. The ideas and the way they are expressed seem to belong to someone else.

Capitalization & Punctuation (Conventions)

Writer makes no errors in capitalization or punctuation, so the paper is exceptionally easy to read. 0-1 errors

Writer makes 1 or 2 errors in capitalization or punctuation, but the paper is still easy to read. 2-3 errors

Writer makes a few errors in capitalization and/or punctuation that catch the reader's attention and interrupt the flow. 4-5 errors

Writer makes several errors in capitalization and/or punctuation that catch the reader's attention and greatly interrupt the flow.

6+ errors

Total Points

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Three – Assigned April 12, 2010 Due Date June 1, 2010

Choose another novel about the Holocaust and read it. This website has some good titles to choose from: http://www.elmhurst.edu/~susanss/holocaustvoices.html#Novels or you may choose your own. (You may NOT choose Night by Elie Wiesel.) Only five students per title allowed. Sign-up for novels –  4/12-4/15 – first come, first, served.

 

Write and perform a Book Talk designed to entice other students to read the book. A Book Talk is a “commercial” for a book. After you’ve read your novel, write a blurb on your book that takes between 3-5 minutes to present. A Book Talk starts with a hook, and then tells a little about the book and the author, enticing the viewer to read the book. At the end of the Book Talk, you leave the viewer with a question so that they will want to read the book to find out the answer. Include costumes and props in your presentation. A script must be provided at the time of the presentation.

 

Name _____________________________________________ Period __________

 

CATEGORY

10

7

5

0

Clarity of Explanation

Ideas are strong with rich details that draw the reader in and create vivid images.

Ideas are emerging and a t times are supported with details.

Ideas are weak so that the message is unclear; details are vague.

No presentation.

Costume & Props

Student uses costume and props in presentation that shows thought and effort.

Student uses only costume OR prop in presentation.

Student uses a costume and/or a prop but it is hastily put together.

No costume or prop used.

Hook

The presentation has an excellent hook to arouse the viewers’ interest.

The presentation has a hook that somewhat arouses the viewers’ interest.

The presentation has a mediocre hook that barely arouses the viewers’ interest

No hook has been used.

Leaves Reader With a Question

The presentation piques the viewers’ interest with an intriguing question.

The presentation ends with a question.

The presentation ends with a mediocre question.

No question has been asked.

Script

A written script has been submitted prior to the presentation.

 

 

No script has been submitted.

Presentation

The speaker is enthusiastic in her/his speech, speaks clearly, has good posture, maintains eye contacts with audience, and the volume is not too loud or too soft.

 

40

The speaker is somewhat: enthusiastic, speaks clearly, has good posture, maintains eye contacts with audience, and the volume is not too loud or too soft.

27

The speaker does not do or control:

Enthusiasm, speaks clearly, has good posture, maintains eye contacts with audience, and the volume is not too loud or too soft.

15

No presentation.

Presentation Time

4-5 minutes

2-3 minutes

1 minute or less

No presentation.

Total Points

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some other novel titles:

 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson

In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry