Historical context

Thinking About Literature:
Approaching Literature
“Out, Out”
• Read thoughtfully pg. 12-17 of Lit. & Comp.
beginning with “Approaching Literature”.
• Do the activity on pg. 16 (about 7 pages into
your composition notebook), writing approx. 1
paragraph for each:
– Experience
– Analysis
– Extension
• Enter the world of the poem!
• Respond…anything goes
– I don’t like it…because…
– I don’t get it…because…
– It was sad…because…
– People aren’t really as callous as the ones in this
• Go further into the text
• Notice as many details as possible
• Try to figure out not just what is written, but
• Focus on effect: how the text means
– Meaning beyond the actual event in the text
• Move beyond the text
• Extend your interpretation from the world of
the poem to the real world
– Research the author’s background
– Examine the historical context of the work
– Application of the ideas in the piece to general life
“Out, Out!”
by Robert Frost
• Define Theme and explain your process for
identifying it in a text.
• What is Frost saying about home and family?
“Out, Out!”
by Robert Frost
• Structure:
– How is this poem organized? What effect does
this organizational pattern convey to a reader?
• Language:
– Identify two examples of effective word choice.
Explain their effect and why you believe the poet
intentionally used them to enhance his message.
Extending “Out, Out!”
• Historical context:
– Which time period do you believe provides the setting
for “Out, Out!”?
– Which contextual clues suggest a particular historical
time period?
• Philosophical possibilities:
– What philosophical comments does the poet imply
setting the poem in this historical context?
by Julia Alvarez
• Poet’s Background:
– B. 1950 Dominican Republic
– Immigrated to U.S to escape military dictatorship
– Excerpt taken from How the Garcia Girls Lost Their
Accents, her first novel
– Explores the immigrant experience from the
viewpoint of a young girl, Yolanda, one of the four
Garcia sisters
Yolanda’s feelings
• unfamiliarity
• Separation
• Outsider
Text connection:
• Is the nun being kindly or condescending in
her slow enunciation of new vocab words and
in her decision to seat Yolanda near her?
Historical Context
• Cuban Missile Crisis
• Cold War
• Term “holocaust”
• What does school mean to Yolanda?
– Is it a refuge from the shifts and changes in her home
• Is Sister Zoey really a kind and caring person, or
does she mean well and miss the mark?
• Read the last sentence in Yolanda’s voice: is her
tone fondly nostalgic or sarcastic?
• Is she remembering this incident with affection?
anger? both?
• How does this story treat language—the
acquisition of it, the joy of it, the distinction
between word and reality?
• What about snow: atomic fallout or natural
• Consider the ways young immigrants struggle
to make their way in a new land and in a new
school, where their new experiences often
drive a wedge between themselves and their