Walkabout Novel Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

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

Racism, cultural intolerance and stereotypes are all themes explored in Walkabout by James Vance Marshall. Students will read two lessons, answer discussion questions, analyze characters and quotes and take a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson students will be able to:

  • Analyze the characters, quotes and theme of Walkabout
  • Explain how lack of communication exacerbates racial tension
  • Discuss desegregation and racism in the 1950s


60 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Vocabulary Terms

  • Walkabout
  • Rite of passage
  • Australian Outback
  • Xenophobia
  • Desegregated
  • Indigenous
  • Pivotal



Walkabout: Book Summary & Analysis

  • Review the vocabulary terms with the class to ensure understanding.
  • Introduce the topic by asking students to discuss this following phrase: 'Racism is based on fear of the unknown.' After a lively discussion, tell students they are going to discuss a book called Walkabout, a story about how people are perceived from different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Distribute copies of the Walkabout: Book Summary & Analysis lesson. Choose a volunteer to read the first section, 'The Rite of Passage,' then ask students to describe a walkabout and a rite of passage as it relates to the Australian Aboriginals.
  • Next, select another student to read 'A Story of Survival,' then lead a discussion with the following:
    • Describe some of the challenges Mary and Peter encountered after the plane crash. Identify challenges listed in the lesson and discuss at least three assumptions based on where they crashed.
    • How does the author, James Vance Marshall, show the communication struggles between the two cultures?
    • Discuss how non-verbal communication created havoc between the two groups.
    • What did the Australian Aboriginal boy find strange about the South Carolinians and vice versa?
  • Now, choose another student to read the next two sections, 'Culture Clash' and 'Civilization and the Savage.' After the reading, shoulder pair students and pose the following questions, allowing each pair to share their responses:
    • What is xenophobia and why do you believe it exists?
    • Survival and racial differences are main themes in Walkabout. What are some examples of these themes in the book?
    • Do you believe the author further perpetuated stereotypes by exemplifying the South Carolinians as civilized and the Australian Aboriginals as savages? Explain.
  • Select another volunteer to read the remainder of the lesson. Afterwards, lead a discussion with the following:
    • Describe the interaction between Southern black and white people in the 1950s.
    • Explain desegregation and discuss how it impacted both cultures.
    • What do you think Mary and Peter learned from the Australian Aboriginal boy?
  • Distribute the lesson quiz and require students to complete independently.

Walkabout: Book Characters & Quotes

  • Now explain to students that they are going to explore the characters in more detail.
  • Distribute a copy of the Walkabout: Book Characters & Quotes lesson and have a volunteer read the first section, 'Exploring the Outback.'
  • Ask the class why they believe the author wrote substantially about the Australian outback?
  • Select another volunteer to read the next section, 'Introduction,' and ask the class to explain and discuss the new information they learned about the novel.
  • Have another student read 'The First Encounter' section.
  • Ask students to compare and contrast the lives of the siblings to the life of the Aboriginal boy. Allow students to share their responses.
  • Select another student to read the remainder of the lesson. After the reading, lead a discussion with the following:
    • How did the author used language as a literary device?
    • Discuss how the Aboriginal culture tests a boy's mental and physical preparedness by requiring a walkabout.
    • Discuss the correlation between the walkabout and death.
  • Afterwards, pair students and ask them to complete the lesson quiz to demonstrate learning.

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