by Sherman Alexie is a text used in the New Haven Public Schools 9
grade curriculum. Through attention to the main character, Zits, students are able not only to explore his self- identity but also to analyze the choices the author makes to develop and reconsider the main character’s commitment to his original identity.
The story centers on a young Native American boy who is called Zits. He lives in foster care and has a very negative opinion of himself. He sees himself as ugly and doesn’t seem to care about anything. He frequently turns to violence to avoid conflict and express his frustration. He eventually gets arrested and befriends a charismatic boy named Justice while in detention. He is convinced that violence will fix the wrongs of the world and agrees to help Justice rob a bank. During the heist, Zits pulls the trigger and the reader is immediately transported to another time and place.
The English I curriculum focuses on Zits’ journey through time and place. Many of the discussions involve symbolism, character analysis, and theme. Nightly homework will be assigned to ensure that the students are keeping up with reading and I plan mini activities with the general education teacher to get the students to think more deeply about what they are reading and to begin pulling evidence from the text to support some of their inferences. The unit culminates with a final literary analysis.