I want students to see how fictional and real life characters are, as the cliché suggests, products of their surroundings. The way place and setting affect fictional characters mirrors life in many ways. What characters do and say, how they act, what decisions they make are often influenced by their surroundings. Similarly, place and architecture actually help to shape what type of personality we have and what sort of people we become. A Native American growing up on a reservation in South Dakota has quite a different outlook on life than does a young girl growing up on a farm in New England. Of course there are other factors that shape our lives and our personalities, but place is a huge factor in decisions and ideas that we are involved with daily.
Students will examine fictional characters in relation to their setting and environment in pairs of works that will allow them to see characters interacting in the same setting or the same type of setting. Students will be able to compare and contrast the importance of architecture and setting in the pairs and, most importantly what effect setting and architecture have on the characters, authors and ultimately the reader. How does where a character lives affect the manner in which he/she acts and reacts to the story that unfolds around him/her? How important does place become to a character without him/her even knowing it? I believe that by examining characters in relation to their surroundings, students will make discoveries not only about the protagonists, but about themselves as well.
I have also included a literature pair that will allow students to think about what happens when a character is taken out of his/her setting, out of his/her element and put into something very foreign to them. How does it feel to be out of one's place? How do real people react when taken out of their element? What sort of adjustments must we make? How do we deal with the strangeness of a new setting?
Finally I will introduce an artistic element to this unit, which will allow the students to bring all of what we have been discussing around to themselves. In the story map section of the unit students will be encouraged to look closely at how all of this talk of setting and architecture can fit into their own lives.
Students will be preparing themselves for CAPT testing by making connections with the literature and examining authors' craft in discussion that will lead to critical thinking. Using the pairs of literature, students will be comparing and contrasting and looking closely at authors' craft as we make our way through this unit.