While thinking about strategies for teaching each narrative section, I realized that I must develop a plan for teaching both disciplines concurrently. I also realized the importance of the teacher’s understanding of each subject to allow him/her to move fluidly from the history to the literature. This is not easily accomplished. The sample lessons include my attempt to take one topic which may be explored through either discipline. It is one point at which the two intersect. Other lessons are included to provide the students with the introductory knowledge needed by them to understand the unit objectives, i.e. short story elements, geography of India. The rest is comprised of a suggested outline of lessons. The teacher is the final judge regarding the teaching of this course, and it is up to him/her to amend these lessons as necessary.
The Short Story
Kipling is considered to be one of the masters of the short story. His use of the word and the sentence is efficient. To understand what makes Kipling so good at his craft on needs to learn about the short story, a relatively young art form. In pursuit of this I have included a plan to teach the elements of the short story and apply them to
The Man Who
Would Be King
The first point to convey to students is that the short story is not some alien gift to mankind. Short stories happen to everyone, on a daily basis, in a variety of places and circumstances.
Some people are very good at telling stories, others are good at writing stories. (you may want to share a few in class)
Stories usually have a beginning and an ending (they exist in time).
There are many ways to tell stories, e.g. written, orally, chronologically, out of sequence.
Stories involve characters and events.
There are six major aspects of the short story; plot, character, point of view, tone, setting and theme. We will explore each of these in isolation and in the context of
The Man Who Would Be King
PLOT Plot is defined as a series of interrelated events that make up the story. The writer is careful to choose only those details that are essential to the story. How those details are arranged is an important aspect of plot. Why would a writer tell a story in an out of sequence arrangement, as opposed to the way the events really happened, chronologically? Plot also involves the essential ingredient to give substance to these events, conflict. So, plot is a series of connected events, within which a problem is solved, or apparently solved.
Plot in the short story is consistent with the above definition with one especially important facet, the use of words must be efficient. The writer chooses his/her words carefully, adding only those details that are essential. As someone once said, “if a gun is mentioned in the story, one could be reasonably sure that it will be used by the end of it.”
CHARACTER People are the focus of stories. The characters must be credible. The reader must believe that the characters’ actions are reasonable and consistent. In the short story the writer selects those details about the characters that are essential to their development and the development of the story. Usually one central character is the focus.
There are several ways through which can learn about a character:
What a character does
What a character says
What a character thinks
How other characters interact with him/her
The author’s direct description of the character
POINT OF VIEW How the author chooses to tell the story is as
important to it as the details that are chosen. There are two
major ways by which the author may tell the story, from the person
outside the story and through a character within it. In the first
approach the author either goes into the thoughts and actions of
a character or just describe the character’s behavior. In the
second approach the author assumes the role of the major or minor
character. The story is told in the first person. The author is
the observer of events and teller of the story.
TONE Suffice that eighth graders merely learn that tone is basically the attitude of the speaker. Students could relate to the old saying,”it’s not so much what he said, it’s HOW he said it!” A book by Boynton and Mack,
Introduction to the Short Story
, illustrate the subtle aspects of tone very well (pp 51-57). I don’t feel that too much time should be spent on this particular element.
SETTING All stories take place in time and space. They exist in a believable environment. The images created by the description of the setting are as important to the story as the characters that act within it.
THEME A writer doesn’t happen to sit down to write a story without having something for the reader to discover about the human condition. The characters that the author develops and the events which occur all intertwine to present an author’s commentary.
There are a number of ways that teacher may choose to teach these elements. Also, which of these elements to teach to students is teacher’s choice. What follows is a sample lesson utilizing
The Man Who Would Be King
. For further ideas on teaching these elements see curriculum units written by teachers in the Twentieth Century Short Story seminar, or Boynton and Mack’s book.
Preparation for first reading:
Locate the following on a map of the world; India’ Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, England.
Point out the vast distances between India and England
Ask students if they could in any way connect England and India at some point in history. Some may be able to refer to India once being a colony of the British Empire.
Cite the following definition of imperialism: the policy of extending and increasing a nation’s power and authority by acquiring territories or by establishing political and economic dominance over other nations.
Discuss this definition. Apply it to India/England. If more background is desired with regards to how this imperial relationship began, refer to Spear’s book,
History of India, Vol. 2
, pp. 61-69.
Read aloud with entire class, choosing different students to read, stopping as often as necessary to interpret and describe events. Set a pace that is appropriate for the students. Take as many class sessions as needed. Readings for homework are recommended, also. During this first reading have students to underline in red all references to time. Noting the time changes is important because it moves in the plot of the story. The narrative on this story ought to be helpful as an aid, as well as the books cited in the bibliography.