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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•  Using the Video
•  Authors
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•  Activities
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Activities: Author Activities

Eudora Welty - Teaching Tips

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  • "Petrified Man" is narrated by an omniscient, third-person voice--a voice outside the story which refers to the characters as "he," "she," etc. How does this outside narrator depict Leota and Mrs. Fletcher? Since the story is primarily dialogue, it should be relatively easy for your students to pick out the narrator's descriptions of the characters. Have them list those descriptions, focusing on the adjectives applied to each character. Using these lists, ask your students to describe how the narrator seems to view these characters. How does this narrative voice affect our overall impression of the story?

  • In The Eye of the Story, a collection of her essays and reviews, Welty wrote that "a fiction writer's responsibility covers not only what he presents as the facts of a given story but what he chooses to stir up as their implications; in the end, these implications, too, become facts, in the larger, fictional sense. But it is not all right, not in good faith, for things not to mean what they say." Discuss Welty's comments with your students in the context of "Petrified Man." Using the chalkboard or an overhead projector, work with the class to produce two lists. One list should include the "facts" of the story; the other should include the "lies" of the story. What role do the "lies" serve for Leota? Does Mrs. Fletcher really believe them?

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