Thursday, March 27, 2014

Reading Period 28: March 26 - April 1: Thomas Hardy


From Chapter 11 of Tess -- Beware lusty cousins!
In your textbook: 652-656, 690-704
Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Chapter 1 (and Chapter 11)
Jude the Obscure, Chapter 1
(Don't forget to fill out your First Chapter Challenge form for these two novels!)


Art Connection:

Sketch the three men who arrive at the shepherd's party in the story "The Three Strangers." Make sure their facial expressions, props, costumes, and other indicators let us know exactly which is which.

History Connection:

Read this essay on the Victorian theme of the "fallen woman" and Thomas Hardy's approach to this theme in Tess of the D'Urberville's. In 250 words, explain how the Victorians generally thought of a "fallen woman" and how Hardy turned that upside down. How do we view this subject differently today?

Writing Connection:

Jude's beloved Christminster was based on the real Oxford.
In the novel Jude the Obscure, Jude is relentlessly driven to pursue higher education even though he has no money and no social standing. In our time, it is very normal for someone from a working class family to go to college and learn whatever they want. In Jude's time, however, it was very unusual for someone to even want that, let alone achieve it. For Jude, college represents a "city of light" where anything is possible and he can completely change his life. In 250 words, explain your own expectations of college, if you intend to go, and whether you feel it will or can change your life.


1. In chapter 1 of the novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles, what is the reason for the change Jack Durbeyfield experiences in his attitude and self-assessment, from the start of the chapter to the finish?
2. Based on this chapter, what do you imagine the book will be about?
3. In chapter 1 of the novel Jude the Obscure, what was the reason the village schoolmaster was leaving the village?
4. Given that this is in the first chapter, how might this foreshadow the events of the book, do you imagine?
5. In the poem "Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?" (654) who is digging on the grave, and why? Why is this funny?
6. Summarize the meaning of "In Time of "The Breaking of Nations"" (655) in a sentence or two. What is the meaning of this poem?
7. Explain or paraphrase in simpler terms this line from the story "The Three Strangers" (692, middle of second column): "Absolute confidence in each other's good opinion begat perfect ease, while the finishing stroke of manner, amounting to a truly princely serenity, was lent to the majority by the absence of any expression or trait denoting that they wished to get on in the world, enlarge their minds, or do any eclipsing thing whatever -- which nowadays so generally nips the bloom and bonhomie of all except the two extremes of the social scale."
8. What is the profession of the stranger in cinder grey?
9. After the identity of the second stranger and the third stranger are revealed, and the villagers are chasing the third stranger into the night, (p 701) what pressing question naturally weighs heavily on the mind of any reader?
10. Why did the first stranger become so legendary in Higher Crowstairs?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Reading Period 27: March 19-25: Rudyard Kipling


Textbook, pages 705-710
"Rikki Tikki Tavi", a short story found online here.
Chapter 1 of Captains Courageous, found online here.
"If", a poem found online here.


Choose two of these connections: art, history, and writing. And don't forget to fill out your "First Chapter Challenge" form for the first chapter of Captains Courageous.


Create a bestiary for the short story "Rikki Tikki Tavi" where you include illustrations and a few brief facts for each animal represented in the tale.


In our textbook are the following lines: "Afterward, [Kipling] was criticized as a defender of British Imperialism.  Such criticism has to be taken seriously and should enter into our evaluation of Kipling as a master storyteller." To understand why Kipling is characterized as defending British imperialism with his stories, we must first understand the British empire in India.

Use these three articles to inform you:

A collection of primary sources related to British rule in India from the National Archive of the UK. (Make sure you also click on and read the "Background" to this collection.)
"The Benefits of British Rule" by Dadabhai Naoroji (1871)
"British Atrocities Against Indians" by  Adnan Karsewak (2010)

Write 250 words addressing these questions: What does it mean that Kipling's defense of the British Empire in India has to "enter our evaluation" of him? Should we not read Kipling because he documented the British rule in India? How does your modern perspective on the atrocities of the British or the long term benefits of British occupation affect your reading of Kipling? Does it prejudice you against him or make you think of him more favorably?


The East India Company was responsible for the first incursion of Britain into India. They were not only a trading company, but fought wars, built factories, minted their own money, and eventually conquered local rulers. They illegally traded opium to China, allowed locals to starve while exporting grain to Europe -- oh, and they were the people whose tea the Americans threw into Boston Harbor, because they were exempt from taxes that colonial merchants had to pay. They paved the way for India to become an actual part of the British Empire, and for Victoria to be crowned Empress of India, thereby foregoing the need to "trade" and allowing Britain to just take what they needed. The East India Company is a symbol of imperialism and exploitation. AND YET, it still exists and operates in England, selling tea and exotic foods.

The modern East India Company web site is a brilliant example of "spin," a rhetorical method in which writers take inconvenient realities and twist them into positives (or negatives) for their organization. Read more about spin here. Then find three examples of "spin" on the East India Company web site. Specifically, take a look at "Our Heritage," "Gunpowder and Health," and the movie in "Historical Views." Or maybe you find that this web site is accurately representing the history of the East India Company, and they have nothing to cover up or "spin"?

Write a 250 word letter to the East India Company either criticizing their use of a name that is historically connected with exploitation and suffering, or commending them for owning their history and creating something positive for the future.


The quiz is over the short story "Miss Youghal's Sais" in your textbook.

1. Why was Strickland trying to blend in with the Indian people?
2. List three words Kipling uses to refer to the Indians on the first page.
3. Why did the Youghals not want Strickland to marry their daughter?
4. Who was the sais who approached the narrator with Strickland's request for cigarettes?
5. What does the line mean, on page 709 in the first column, "That book will be worth buying; and even more worth suppressing."
6. Why was it impossible for Strickland to keep pretending to be Dulloo when the general rode out with Miss Youghal?
7. What was the general's reaction when he heard of the young lovers' predicament?
8. How was Strickland received by the Youghals once he put on his English clothes again?
9. What new behavior did Strickland agree to, before the marriage could happen?
10. Do you think there is sarcasm in the phrase "But he fills out his departmental returns beautifully"?


Memorize the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. You can find it here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Reading Period 26: March 12-18: George Eliot


Biography of George Eliot at
First chapter of Silas Marner
First chapter of The Mill on the Floss

Remember to complete the First Chapter Challenge form for the two first chapters you're reading this week!


Art Connection:

Take a look at these three portraits of George Eliot, as well as a photograph of her at the bottom.

Which one of these portraits do you think is the most accurate? Which one is the least accurate? Why do you think someone might have changed George Eliot's appearance for an author portrait? Do you think these changes would have been made for a male author? Google "author photo" and take a look at the images that appear. Write 250 words about author photos, addressing what authors seem to want to present about themselves, different techniques/poses they employ, and how successful or unsuccessful they are. Now take a picture of yourself as an author -- it can be funny, demonstrating cliches of author photos, or serious, presenting yourself how you'd like to appear on a book jacket.

History Connection:

George Eliot was interested in the pseudo-science of Phrenology, a popular idea in Victorian times that a person's personality could be mapped onto their scalps. Read this article about her involvement with the idea, including having a cast made of her head. Then check out this list of the 35 areas a phrenologist would "read" on a patient's skull. Write 250 words about phrenology, your reaction to the rationality of this idea, and a response to the fact that someone as smart and interesting as George Eliot could have believed in it, even remotely. Can you take someone seriously who believes in this stuff? Do we judge authors by their beliefs in ideas we now know to be silly? Does this judgment only apply to authors living in recent times?

Writing Connection:

Choose one of these poems by George Eliot.

Mid by Gold-Brown Curls
Count That Day Lost
Sweet Endings Come and Go, Love

Describe the rhyme scheme of Eliot's poem, and write your own poem in the same rhyme scheme. In the case of "Sweet Endings Come and Go, Love" you'll need to repeat one word throughout the poem, like Eliot repeats "love."


From George Eliot's biography:

1. Why did Mary Ann Evans choose the pen name George Eliot? What was the significance of each name?
2. What morally questionable behavior was George Eliot criticized for during her life?
3. What literary form did George Eliot mostly publish?

From "Silas Marner":

4. What two villages appear in chapter 1?
5. What was the Raveloe villager's impression of Silas Marner?
6. Google "David and Jonathan." Why is this allusion used to describe William Dane and Silas Marner?
7. What evidence do the villagers in Lantern Yard have that Silas Marner is sometimes possessed by Satan?

From "The Mill on the Floss":

8. What is the main purpose of this chapter?
9. What one character appears in the story?
10. Are there any words with negative connotations in this chapter? See if you can find at least one.


Our memory challenge for next week is going to be Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If." There will be significant prizes for anyone who memorizes this poem, so get the jump on it this week.