Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK through 5. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English from Gordon College and a Master's degree in Special Education from Salem State University.
As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:
- identify several works by author Truman Capote.
- critically analyze Capote's short story, ''A Christmas Memory.''
- 60-90 minutes
Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
- Copies of the text lesson Truman Capote: Biography, Books & Facts and accompanying worksheet
- Short story ''A Christmas Memory'' by Truman Capote
Instruction and Activities
An Author's Biography
- As class begins, instruct students to write a response to the prompt:
- How does an author's life experience impact their writing? Should an author's work be evaluated in light of an author's biography, or considered separately?
- After allowing students several minutes to write, discuss the students' responses.
- Distribute copies of the text lesson Truman Capote: Biography, Books & Facts.
- Students spend time reading the lesson individually or in small groups, highlighting information they feel is relevant.
- Students should work through the worksheet that accompanies the lesson to check for understanding.
A Christmas Memory
- Students read the short story ''A Christmas Memory'' by Truman Capote. You may choose to read aloud together as a whole class or in small groups; or you may assign the story to be read prior to the beginning of class.
- Briefly review the literary elements of character, setting, theme, and plot.
- As a class, create a plot diagram of the story. Include exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution.
- Students work with a partner to create a character sketch of one of the two main characters, the narrator or his friend. The sketch should be as complete as they can make it, but students should provide textual support for any claims they make about the character.
- Students should choose the format for their sketch. Examples include styling their sketch after an actor biography in a playbill or creating a social media profile page.
- Discuss as a class:
- What notable omissions does the author make in regards to characters in this story? How does this help or hinder the story?
- In what way does the choices of first person limited narration affect the impact of the story?
- Alone or in small groups, students should work to draw or construct the setting of the story ''A Christmas Memory,'' including as many relevant details as possible. Remind them to consider time, place, historical context, and physical and emotional details.
- After students have attempted to piece together the setting, discuss the following:
- Which elements of the setting were easy to piece together?
- Which elements of the setting were difficult to find or missing altogether? How would the story be different if these elements were more explicit?
- Remind students of the definition of theme.
- Give students a few minutes to consider what they think the theme is in ''A Christmas Memory'' and write their theme on a piece of paper.
- Collect the papers, then group students with similar ideas together.
- In their groups, students should gather textual evidence to support their idea of theme.
- Individually, students should write a few paragraphs discussing their idea of theme, their textual evidence, and their personal response to the theme.
- Read additional short stories by Truman Capote. Compare and contrast his use of characters, setting, theme, and plot in the different stories.
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