Titus Oates Activities

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

We've all had an imaginary friend at some point. In 'The White Darkness,' Titus Oates represents Sym's imaginary friend. This lesson provides activities to help students identify the importance of Titus in the story line.

Opposites Attract

Titus Oates appears on Sym's darkest day, the day her father dies. When Sym tries to explain Titus to her friends, they react in the way most friends would, unbelieving. Nevertheless, Titus and Sym develop a strong bond throughout the book.

The adage 'opposites attract' definitely fits Titus and Sym's relationship. When Sym is feeling some kind of way, Titus feels the opposite. Students will analyze those differences through this activity.


  • Index cards
  • Pens


Distribute an index card and pen to each student. Then, divide the class into two groups: Titus and Sym. Ask each group to write an adjective or descriptive phrase that describes how their assigned character is different from the other. Afterward, pass out the Titus index cards to the Sym group, and vice versa. Ask each person to read the index card out loud and explain a scene in the book that corroborates the information on the card.

Will the Real Titus Oates, Please Stand Up!

While The White Darkness is a fictional story, Lawrence 'Titus' Oates was an actual person who served as an officer in the military and led a famous expedition. Students will connect the real life Titus to the imaginary character in this activity.


  • Computer
  • Presentation software
  • Projector (optional)


Ask students if they knew Titus Oates was an actual person. Then, explain that this activity will introduce the real Lawrence 'Titus' Oates and review his contributions as an explorer.

Divide students into three groups and assign one of the following topics to each:

  • Personal life (birthdate, childhood, family)
  • Career
  • Explorations

Ask students to create a brief presentation on their assigned topic and include appropriate visuals. Then require each group to answer these questions in their presentation:

  • How is the real life Titus different from the fictional character?
  • Describe their similarities.
  • Which Titus do you think Sym would like best? Why?
  • Which Titus would you prefer to play the fictional character in the book? Why?
  • Define irony.
  • Lawrence 'Titus' Oates died during an exploration in Antarctica. Discuss the irony presented in the book as it relates to this continent.
  • Why do you believe the author decided to mix an ounce of truth with fiction?

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