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Yhemes of Love and Death in Sula

To date I have taught Sula to two tenth and three ninth grade classes. The tenth graders were summer school students who needed credits; the ninth graders were not tracked. Only a few of the ninth graders had ever written essays on literature; few had written social issue essays. Through guided writing of providing thesis statements and outlines for the first two writing assignments and thesis statements for the second, there was a very high percentage of success in all three assignments. Other assists leading to clear thinking and focus in the end products were, for the Love and Death essays, charting and responding to those events together throughout the reading in addition to log reflections on these topics; and, for the social issue essay, the methodical process of identifying the issues, committing to the issue, researching, sharing research and writing in class.

This novel is on the extended core literature list for ninth graders. It is a gloomy but fascinating scenario; as a matter of fact a colleague told me she was surprised it could be taught to ninth graders, that she had wanted to study it in college in a course on gothic novels. During the reading, students commented on how bleak it is, but I told them I had read an interview of Ms. Morrison where she was quoted as saying, "I can only teach by taking away," and that her background is steeped in the classics, which are known for dramatic levels of death and destruction.

I was looking for a book with social issues and this has easily ten in the first five chapters. These issues include a Jim Crow Law encounter and a kind of de facto demonstration at the end where the people of the African American community destroy a tunnel they had been promised jobs to build.

Morrison, of course, is a tremendous role model for her exquisite expression and resultant success.

Overview & Essential Question
Activities and Assignments
Page 3 - 6
Page 7 - 16
Page 17 - 29
Page 30 - 48
Page 49 - 66
Page 67 - 78
Page 79 - 85
Page 89 - 111
Page 112 - 137
Page 138 - 149
Page 150 - 162
Page 163 - 174
The Theme of Love in Sula
The Theme of Death in Sula
Samples Of Student Work
Teacher Commentary

Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
Themes of Love & Death in Sula
Subject: English
Grade Level: 9th

Lesson Plan Author:
L. Delaney
School: Skyline High