Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

13. Southern Renaissance

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Activities: Author Activities

Richard Wright - Teaching Tips

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  • Richard Wright is probably best known for his aggressive portrayal of African American characters like Dave, who are unhappy and unsatisfied with their lives but seemingly unable to do much to improve their situation. If you've read Native Son, it might be worthwhile talking to your students about Bigger Thomas and the controversy surrounding that novel. This might be a good way to introduce them to "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," but it could also be part of a follow-up class in which you discuss Dave's possible destination and future. Where is he going on that train? What will he find there? Does Wright suggest that it's inevitable that Dave will become Bigger Thomas, or does the story end more ambiguously than that? Use these questions to get your students thinking about the larger implications of the story; then ask them to consider contemporary parallels for Dave. Where might Dave be found today? Instead of plowing a field, what might Dave's job be? Have your students freewrite for ten minutes in response to these questions; then ask them to share their responses with the class.

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