Thursday, May 14, 2015

Reading Period 28: May 13-19: The Trial Begins

Long Read: 

To Kill a Mockingbird, chapters 17-21.

Short Read: 

"Our Town" by Thornton Wilder, Act 2.


Spoken Word Poetry: Watch this video!

Creative Assignments:
Think about the minimalist style of the staging of "Our Town." Now think about minimalism in drawing. What are the fewest pencil marks needed on a page to communicate a wedding like George and Emily's? Experiment a little bit and post your results. How can you depict a wedding in a pencil drawing, as minimally as possible?


Do as Sarah Kay suggests in the video about Spoken Word Poetry, and write down ten things you know to be true.

Writing Assignments:

Since we are reading about a trial, this week's writing assignments both pertain to laws.

In the novel, characters use the goal of protecting women as an excuse to bully and wrongfully accuse an innocent man. Consider the "Ladies' Law" from the criminal code of the state of Alabama:

  [The "Ladies' Law" states: "Any person who enters
     into, or sufficiently near to the dwelling house of
     another, and, in the presence or hearing of the
     family of the occupant thereof, or any member of
     his family; or any person who, in the presence or
     hearing of any girl or woman, uses abusive, insulting,
     or obscene language must, or conviction, be fined not
     more than two hundred dollars, and may also be imprisoned
     in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labor for the county
     for not more than six months." THE CODE OF
     ALABAMA, Vol. III --- CRIMINAL [Nashville,
     Tenn.: Marshall and Bruce Compant, 1907], p. 272.]

Do you think this law is a good one? Or is it condescending and belittling to the women it's meant to protect from harm? Can women handle listening to obscene language? How hard do you think this law would be to properly enforce? Write a short persuasive essay arguing that this law should be upheld as just and moral, or that it be stricken from the books as irrelevant and outdated. In your argument, address why you think this law was ever included in the criminal code, and why it was ever necessary to give people six months' hard labor for swearing in front of a woman. 


Watch this video and read this article about the history of the Ku Klux Klan. Atticus, in the novel, Atticus says he believes the Ku Klux Klan does not exist in Maycomb, that its influence is gone. Did you know that the Ku Klux Klan is not gone from America, even now in 2015? We have always struggled, in this country, with the problem of free speech. If we have free speech, then we have the freedom to create, for example, Ku Klux Klan web sites that openly promote "white, Christian" America, and use symbols and ideas that evoke a horrible history of violence. Many organizations and churches have denounced the Klan as a terrorist organization, and its existence is controversial and often dangerous.

Now read this, from the code of the state of Virginia, an anti-mask law. It is written to stop people from wearing masks for criminal purposes, including members of the Ku Klux Klan. It has exceptions for holiday masks, surgeons, etc., but there are no exceptions for people who wear masks for religious reasons. Write a short persuasive essay arguing that this law should be upheld, or argue that it is restricting free expression and should be removed from the criminal code. Does outlawing masks help? Is it a sneaky way to address a larger problem? 


One final extension. You have until Tuesday the 19th. Why not? We're all friends here.


This quiz is over chapters 17-21 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

1. Where do the kids sit, in order to see the trial? (This is from back in chapter 16)
2. What was Heck Tate's involvement in the incident? Why is he a witness?
3. Why do you think Atticus wants to establish that no one called a doctor for Mayella?
4. What role does Mr. Gilmer play in the trial?
5. Why is it important that Mr. Ewell is left-handed?
6. What does Mayella say she asked Tom Robinson to do?
7. What is unusual about Tom Robinson's left hand?
8. Why didn't people leave the courtroom during the recess?
9. What does Tom Robinson say that Mayella Ewell did when she invited him into the house?
10. Why does Scout defend Mr. Gilmer when Dill says he's being hateful?

BONUS: How is a trial like a spoken word poem? 

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