Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Invisible Man (through chapter 11) Pre-Session Work

On Monday, July 6 we will meet to deepen our understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the first eleven chapters of Ralph Waldo Ellison's novel Invisible Man.

To be prepared for the first summer session do the following...

1. Actively read the Prologue through chapter 11 of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. (Reading the introduction is optional.)

What does it mean to read actively?

To read actively, we must think about the significance of what we are reading. To guide this we should all reflect upon the struggle to create an identity and develop a self that will survive within precarious and often hostile environments. This struggle -- common among thoughtful high school students -- is also the struggle experienced by the protagonist of Invisible Man.

To read actively, we will not only think about the novel's central theme; we will also jot down or mark whatever seems significant. So keep track of significant characters, events, and motifs. In Invisible Man aspects of vision (eyes, sight, blindness, and, of course, invisibility) are among the motifs. Other motifs include light and dark, colors (especially white, black, and red), the underground, dreams, sex, violence, food, speech-making, music, and blood. You should jot these down or mark them as you find them so we can go back to them to puzzle out how they are significant in the novel.

2. What else should we do before July 6?
In addition to your other active reader notes and markings, choose a motif and write down five specific places where it appears. Write down each of the five quotations and page numbers. Bring these notes to class on July 6.

Also write down the page numbers of three passages that illustrate some aspect of the protagonist's struggle to figure out how to live within hostile and confusing environments. This struggle is often called identity formation. Pick one passage from the Prologue or chapter one; pick another passage from chapter two through chapter six and another passage from chapter seven through chapter eleven. Write an open-ended discussion question for each of the three passages.

Choose one image (a sensory experience created with words) from the first eleven chapters that for you most vividly conveys the protagonist's struggle between self and environment. Write down (or type out) the exact words Ellison uses to present the image.

Email me at jcook@gloucester.k12.ma.us or apenglishghs@gmail.com with any questions.

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