Category Archives: LITERATURE

W8, #6: NAME GAME

Set-Up: Like many new parents, my wife/I went through endless lists of possible names for our first child. Our goals at the time were pretty simple:

  • Retro/classic but with a ‘modern’ twist (“Beckett” seemed to fit that mark)
  • Not typical, or at least not expected by most people who’ve heard a lot of baby names
  • Had good/solid nickname possibilities over time (aka “Bex” or “Becks” thus far)
  • No obviously ‘bad’ playground nicknames
  • Fit well with “Long” as a last name

Ultimately we stumbled upon ‘authors’ names one afternoon while driving around Fort Worth, hence the choice to take Samuel Beckett‘s (author of Waiting for Godot) last name as our son’s first (although Mr. Long will often claim that his lifelong love of the Boston Red Sox was the real reason; just don’t tell his wife).

Challenge: With a new kid soon to arrive in our home this coming March, we’re beginning to toss around various possibilities for her/his name. We won’t know the gender for 2 more weeks, so we’re still pretty wide open to suggestions.

  • Offer a literary name — author, character, location, concept, title — that you think would be an interesting boy’s or girl’s name for my wife/me to name our next child.
  • Make sure that it fits the criteria mentioned above (nicknames, retro/modern, etc).
  • Explain why you think it would work, including anything cool trivia-wise about that literary connection.

Length: 5+ sentence

W8, #5: FESTIVAL OF MINI-ESSAYS

Set-Up: Last week, we took a brief look at a series of mini-essays about Chapters 5 & 6 (that were written by periods 1, 2 & 3 as a group in-class essay project). Each of you picked one you thought would be interesting based on the title alone and gave us a few things to look at that you thought was successful.

Challenge: Take a look at the full list one more time.

  • Pick a new essay title to look at and read the entire essay.
  • Tell us which essay you picked.
  • Identify 5 very specific things in that essay that you thought were done well.

Length: Varies

The list:

Small group mini-essay paragraph writing challenge (in lieu of the typical in-class essay):

Links to the specific student responses

W8, #4: HIDDEN IN THE JUNGLE

Set-Up: We’ve crossed a certain point in the Lord of the Flies experience — by the beginning of chapter 5 — where it seems that every page is intentionally loaded with imagery. Seems that something vital is cleverly hidden in the jungle by Golding at every turn of the pig trail and curve of the horizon line.

While we don’t pretend to ‘get’ everything he’s throwing our way quite yet, we are developing decent radar for ‘tracking’ a few gems hidden in the creepers along the way.

Challenge:

  • Point out 1 thing that you think is really clever on the part of the author in terms of weaving together a many-layered story that obviously is hinting at something fare more complicated than just having ‘boys on an island’ try to get ‘rescued’.
  • Tell the rest of us what it means and why you think Golding is doing some pretty solid work as a writer in terms of pushing well beyond basic plot/action to hint at something bigger at the end of the novel.

Length: 5+ sentences

W8, #3: WISDOM OF CROWDS

Set-Up: Ever get that feeling that no matter how closely you read/highlight a book the first time around, there are still dozens upon dozens of things ‘under the surface’ that you can’t quite put your finger on? Well, if you do, you’re a healthy human being. At the same time, all of us are working very hard to grasp the deeper mysteries found on the island right now…even if we only have a few chapters, a couple of class discussions, and our gut instincts to guide us at this point.

Clearly there is something to be said for employing the ‘wisdom of crowds’ when where trying to figure out the hidden ideas that a novelist weaves into his/her story that go far, far beyond plot/action. In fact, there even is an amazing book by that title if you’re curious how groups (even anonymous groups of average people) are ’smarter’ than individuals (even experts).

With that said, let’s help each other out with a series of questions that one of your classmates asked me recently. Something tells me that a few others might find these really intriguing/helpful.

Challenge: Pick one of the following Ch 3 & 4 questions (or more, if you’d like) that were sent to me by a fellow student. Offer a solution/idea.

Here are the questions:

  • On pg 62, there is this random part about Roger throwing rocks at Henry. I think that I must have seriously blacked out when I was reading because it has no relevance to the story!! Arg. Is it showing how childish they are or foreshadowing or something because that would make a lot more sense than Golding randomly putting in a kid throwing rocks. Is there a relevance to the fact that he missed? Golding says, “perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw”. Does that mean he’s missing on purpose?
  • Jack is obviously more savage now. He’s constantly talking about hunting and and how “we” need meat when it’s actually just him. If he has an entire army of choir members, then why is he wasting time trying to explain his military tactics on page 63 to the youngest boys on the island? At first I thought that jack was going to be some sort of evil dictator, but now he’s confusing me with his strange kindness.
  • What is Simon doing on page 57? All that I see is that he sits down in the grass as the sun is going down and he gets up. I noticed that as Simon gets up, the same “candle buds” he mentions to Jack on pg 30 open up. What does that mean?
  • On page 56, Golding compares Simon to Jack two times saying, “his feet were bare like Jack’s” and “he looked over his shoulder as jack had”. Why? Why does Jack force Simon to eat the meat on pg 74? Well, he told everyone to eat it, but he tells Simon directly.
  • What does Simon mean by “it wasn’t a good island” on page 52? Why are the boys so surprised to hear him speak? They did invite him into their ‘group’ on the first day. I still don’t get why they did that by the way. Simon isn’t exactly special. All that he did was faint, so why is he included?

Length: 5+ sentences

Note: Consider reading the 21 responses already received for this entry that were written by Per 1, 2 & 3 over week ago.  You might find a few intriguing ideas to consider there.

W7, #5: ARE YOU A DECENT FORTUNE TELLER?

Set-Up: On a simple level, Lord of the Flies appears to just be a story about a bunch of young boys (12 and under) who crash-land on a tropical, jungle-filled island without any adults to tell them what to do or how to survive.

As you will soon see, however, this is a far more complicated story, a puzzle within a puzzle within a puzzle.

Fortunately, the author — William Golding — tries to help us this puzzle by allowing us to ‘see’ the answer within the first few pages.  Throughout the story, he hides clue after clue after clue.  You’ll find them on the beach, in the jungle, near the rescue fire, on the mountain, in caves, on the pig trails, and just about anywhere else you care to look.

In other words, this novel is a foreshadowing treasure hunt like you’ve never encountered, possibly one of the best examples of challenging readers to predict the characters’ future that you’ve ever read.

Challenge: Based on what you’ve read so far — going NO further than chap 3 (which is due for Mon) — predict what is going to happen to these boys using EVIDENCE from the story.

Length: 5+ sentences

W7, #3: PACK YOUR BAGS (VERY CAREFULLY)

Set-Up: It’s a question that seems to pop up over and over, but I think you’ll see how it has relevance to reading Lord of the Flies starting this week.

Challenge: Imagine you are going to be stranded on an island by yourself for a full year.

While you’ll have access to basic food, water, and materials to make a basic shelter so that you’ll technically ‘survive’, it’s also obvious that the ‘quality’ of your life will be improved if you had a few personal items — from the real world — with you during your stay on the island.

  • Identify 5 objects (non-living) that you currently have at home that you’d want to bring with you while stranded on an island yourself.
  • Explain in 1-2 sentences (for each one) why each of these objects would make your life better in this unique circumstance.

Note: You’ll have no access to electricity or a way to re-charge batteries.  Please consider the ‘value’ of any electronic items after a day or two given that you’ll be there for a year…and can only bring 5 things with you.

Length: See above.

W7, #2: WHO’D YOU PICK FOR THE BOMB SHELTER?

Set-Up: Before we head to a tropical island to follow the lives of a group of boys who crash-land in an airplane, we had a 2-day discussion centered on a fictional “bomb shelter” and the tough choices you’d have to make as the youngest mayor in your town’s history faced with selecting 7 (of 20) people to spend a year with you during some sort of ‘attack’ on your town.

At first, we made choices based on very little information (generally just their occupations).  Over time, however, we had a bit more information to go on (relationships, unique skills, problems/crimes, etc) that each person would bring with them into the protected bomb shelter.

Our job was to consider which combination of 7 people (plus you as the mayor) would best work together and possibly help to re-build the community/society after a year’s time hidden in the bomb shelter.

Challenge: Who were your 7 and why did you choose them?

Length: List each of the 7 and add 1-2 sentences for each.  Plus, explain in 2-3 sentences what your overall thinking was with regards to the reason these 7 people needed to be together.