Choose an incident in your life that was meaningful, humorous, joyous, or distinguishable in some other way. Write a memoir based on that incident.
A memoir must incorporate all of the following:
It must be 2-3 pages, double-spaced, 1” margins all around, 11 or 12-pt. Times New Roman or Calibri or Ariel. [at least 2 full pages]
Send it to me by 12/21.
2. Excerpt from Stephen King’s On Writing
My earliest memory is of imagining I was someone else— imagining that I was, in fact, the Ringling Brothers Circus Strongboy. This was at my Aunt Ethelyn and Uncle Oren’s house in Durham, Maine. My aunt remembers this quite clearly, and says I was two and a half or maybe three years old. I had found a cement cinderblock in a corner of the garage and had managed to pick it up. I carried it slowly across the garage’s smooth cement floor, except in my mind I was dressed in an animal skin singlet (probably a leopard skin) and carrying the cinderblock across the center ring. The vast crowd was silent. A brilliant blue-white spotlight marked my remarkable progress. Their wondering faces told the story: never had they seen such an incredibly strong kid. “And he’s only two!” someone muttered in disbelief. 18 Stephen King Unknown to me, wasps had constructed a small nest in the lower half of the cinderblock. One of them, perhaps pissed off at being relocated, flew out and stung me on the ear. The pain was brilliant, like a poisonous inspiration. It was the worst pain I had ever suffered in my short life, but it only held the top spot for a few seconds. When I dropped the cinderblock on one bare foot, mashing all five toes, I forgot all about the wasp. I can’t remember if I was taken to the doctor, and neither can my Aunt Ethelyn (Uncle Oren, to whom the Evil Cinderblock surely belonged, is almost twenty years dead), but she remembers the sting, the mashed toes, and my reaction. “How you howled, Stephen!” she said. “You were certainly in fine voice that day.”
A year or so later, my mother, my brother, and I were in West De Pere, Wisconsin. I don’t know why. Another of my mother’s sisters, Cal (a WAAC beauty queen during World War II), lived in Wisconsin with her convivial beer-drinking husband, and maybe Mom had moved to be near them. If so, I don’t remember seeing much of the Weimers. Any of them, actually. My mother was working, but I can’t remember what her job was, either. I want to say it was a bakery she worked in, but I think that came later, when we moved to Connecticut to live near her sister Lois and her husband (no beer for Fred, and not much in the way of conviviality, either; he was a crewcut daddy who was proud of driving his convertible with the top up, God knows why). There was a stream of babysitters during our Wisconsin period. I don’t know if they left because David and I were a 19 On Writing handful, or because they found better-paying jobs, or because my mother insisted on higher standards than they were willing to rise to; all I know is that there were a lot of them. The only one I remember with any clarity is Eula, or maybe she was Beulah. She was a teenager, she was as big as a house, and she laughed a lot. Eula-Beulah had a wonderful sense of humor, even at four I could recognize that, but it was a dangerous sense of humor—there seemed to be a potential thunderclap hidden inside each hand-patting, butt-rocking, head-tossing outburst of glee. When I see those hiddencamera sequences where real-life babysitters and nannies just all of a sudden wind up and clout the kids, it’s my days with Eula-Beulah I always think of. Was she as hard on my brother David as she was on me? I don’t know. He’s not in any of these pictures. Besides, he would have been less at risk from Hurricane Eula-Beulah’s dangerous winds; at six, he would have been in the first grade and off the gunnery range for most of the day. Eula-Beulah would be on the phone, laughing with someone, and beckon me over. She would hug me, tickle me, get me laughing, and then, still laughing, go upside my head hard enough to knock me down. Then she would tickle me with her bare feet until we were both laughing again. Eula-Beulah was prone to farts—the kind that are both loud and smelly. Sometimes when she was so afflicted, she would throw me on the couch, drop her wool-skirted butt on my face, and let loose. “Pow!” she’d cry in high glee. It was like being buried in marshgas fireworks. I remember the dark, the sense that I was suffocating, and I remember laughing. Because, while what was happening was sort of horrible, it was also sort of funny. In many ways, Eula-Beulah prepared me for literary criticism. After having a two-hundred-pound 20 Stephen King babysitter fart on your face and yell Pow!, The Village Voice holds few terrors. I don’t know what happened to the other sitters, but EulaBeulah was fired. It was because of the eggs. One morning Eula-Beulah fried me an egg for breakfast. I ate it and asked for another one. Eula-Beulah fried me a second egg, then asked if I wanted another one. She had a look in her eye that said, “You don’t dare eat another one, Stevie.” So I asked for another one. And another one. And so on. I stopped after seven, I think—seven is the number that sticks in my mind, and quite clearly. Maybe we ran out of eggs. Maybe I cried off. Or maybe Eula-Beulah got scared. I don’t know, but probably it was good that the game ended at seven. Seven eggs is quite a few for a four-year-old. I felt all right for awhile, and then I yarked all over the floor. Eula-Beulah laughed, then went upside my head, then shoved me into the closet and locked the door. Pow. If she’d locked me in the bathroom, she might have saved her job, but she didn’t. As for me, I didn’t really mind being in the closet. It was dark, but it smelled of my mother’s Coty perfume, and there was a comforting line of light under the door. I crawled to the back of the closet, Mom’s coats and dresses brushing along my back. I began to belch—long loud belches that burned like fire. I don’t remember being sick to my stomach but I must have been, because when I opened my mouth to let out another burning belch, I yarked again instead. All over my mother’s shoes. That was the end for Eula-Beulah. When my mother came home from work that day, the babysitter was fast asleep on the couch and little Stevie was locked in the closet, fast asleep with half-digested fried eggs drying in his hair.
DAY 1: HOUSEKEEPING
Maycomb, Alabama (CH.1)
ACTIVITY: Maycomb [Complete Activities II A and III A with a partner]
DAY 2: CH. 1:
INTRODUCTION TO THE NOVEL
first-person point of view
introduction of themes of coming of age, parental influence, nonconformity, and prejudice
Analysis of first paragraphs
Boo: parental influence; bias
HOMEWORK: read chapters 4-6 (voc.: unanimous, evasion, benevolence, uncompromising, inference);
DAY 3: CH. 4-6
ACTIVITY: Inference (with a partner)
HOMEWORK: read Chapters 7 & 8 (voc.: simultaneous, ruthless, , oppressive, coming of age)
DAY 4: Ch. 7 & 8
Boo--inferences about the truth
HOMEWORK: read Ch. 9-10 (voc.: inconsistent, proclaim, ethics, elude, speculation, tedious, tentative, defendant, prohibit)
DAY 5: Ch. 9 & 10
prejudice and nonconformity (Atticus)
themes of bias and misconception (Atticus)
Jem's coming of age
symbolism of the title
HOMEWORK: Read Ch. 11. (voc.: antagonize, benevolence, irk, transaction, inevitable)
Day 6: Ch. 11
ACTIVITY: in small groups: Discuss three of the Jim Crow laws and respond to the following:
HOMEWORK: Read Ch. 12 up to the line "While she was shelling peas, Calpurnia suddenly said, 'What am I gonna do about you all’s church this Sunday?'" Read 13-14 (voc.: coming of age, justification, contradict, antagonize, perpetuate)
DAY 7 & 8: Ch. 12-14
themes of prejudice and nonconformity
HOMEWORK: Read Ch. 15 (voc.: vengeance, aggravate, apprehension, acquiesce, unanimous); JOURNAL ASSIGNMENT: Describe some incident of a mob you witnessed, participated in, or something you saw in the media. Reflect on the mob's influence on the mob itself and on others.
themes of prejudice and nonconformity
HOMEWORK: Read Ch. 16; voc.: accommodate, assurance, testimony, inference, inconsistent)
DAY 10 & 11
Analyzing the testimony of Ch. 17-19
HOMEWORK: Read Ch. 20-21 (voc.: inevitable, inference, verdict, acquit, unanimous, vicious); JOURNAL: Write a letter to Tom Robinson expressing your opinion about the trial and verdict. End with some advice you would give him.
Research: Scottsboro Boys Scottsboro Boys
themes of parental influence, nonconformity vs. conformity; bias
HOMEWORK: Read Ch. 22-23;
DAY 13: Ch. 22-23
themes of coming of age (loss of innocence), parental influence, nonconformity, bias
HOMEWORK: skip Ch. 24; Read Ch. 25-27;
JOURNAL ACTIVITY: Look at the last paragraph in Chapters, 22, 25, and 27. Come to a generalization based on what these paragraphs have in common and explain why you've come to this conclusion.
DAY 14: Ch. 25-27
themes of prejudice, coming of age
foreshadowing (Ch. 27)
HOMEWORK: finish novel
DAY 15: Wrap-up
MAJOR ASSIGNMENT: Integration of quotes into a written analysis.
Due date TBD
For each theme, write a concise analysis about each theme. [250-300 words per theme]
Instead of proving that the theme exists in the novel, you will assume it does exist. You will focus on one aspect of the theme in one scene and examine it, coming up with your unique perspective that you prove by incorporating evidence from the novel.
For example, you might focus on:
DAY 19: INTRODUCTION
DAY 20: pp. 9-50
Literary Analysis Essay
Body Paragraphs (3 total) format:
Conclusion: Now that you have proved your thesis, it can be considered to be a true statement (no longer just your opinion).
The following NY Times resources: