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"America: A Patchwork Quilt" Thematic Unit

This thematic unit was created for a 10th grade American literature course to introduce them to texts from a variety of immigrants and their heritages.

Addie Sadler

on 23 January 2018

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Transcript of "America: A Patchwork Quilt" Thematic Unit

“We are all patchwork, and so shapeless and diverse in composition that each bit, each moment, plays its own game.“--Michel de Montaigne

Carlos Bulosan (1911-1956)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
*Elected President in 1901
(New Republican)

*Known for his masculinity

*Promoted Progressivism

*"He invokes values of manliness, self-reliance, and hard work as the essential hallmarks of the American West" (Reesman & Krupat 1153).

Roosevelt wrote
American Ideals
in 1897
"From Chapter II: "True Americanism"
"Forgotten Ellis Island" (55 min)
"New Immigrants Share their Stories"
"It's tough being a Mexican-American"
Why this article?
*The first Filipino-American author

*Came from an extremely poor peasant family in the Philippines

*Had almost no formal education

*Arrived in the U.S. in 1931

*Worked seasonally from Alaska to California

*Fought that all "immigrants who came to the United States as immigrants are Americans too" (Baym 2076)
"Be American"
On Becoming Filipino
Probably written in the 1940s (no date)
Shows how "In many ways it was a crime to be a Filipino in California"
Sui Sin Far
(Edith Maude Eaton)
Anzia Yezierska
(Gertrude Simmons-Bonnin)
Flannery O'Connor
Salom Rizk
Toni Morrison
Julia Alvarez
Sandra Cisneros
Sherman Alexie
*Came to America from her hometown, a Russian- Polish villiage near Warsaw, Poland at age 15

*Settled into an apartment in the Jewish ghetto of New York City's Lower East Side

*As a teen, she worked long hours as a domestic servant and in sweatshops

*At age 18, she received a scholarship from Columbia University

*Studied domestic science in preparation for becoming a teacher, but her career did not last long
"Soap and Water" (1920)
Yezierska wrote short stories and novels that describe social, cultural, and religious aspects of Jewish ghetto life at the turn of the twentieth century.

"Soap and Water" shows us the alienation of immigrant women. It shows that differences in class and culture went beyond just language; they sometimes became extremely personal
Women's Worlds
After she published her first collection of short stories,
Hungry Hearts
(1920) (which included "Soap and Water," she gained so much popularity that Hollywood producer, Samuel Goldwyn brought her to California to help write movies.
*Born in South Dakota on the Yankton-Nakota Sioux reservation

*Daughter of a Sioux mother and a white father

*At age 8, she attended a Quaker-run school, White's Manuel Labor Institute

*She returned to the reservation, but she didn't feel like she could fit in with her Sioux culture or her American white culture
"The Cutting of My Long Hair"
This short story reflects the difficulties of being thrust into a society where she did not feel comfortable and the loss of her traditional culture.
After reading...
What is your impression of what happened to Zitkala-Sa?

What was effective about how she told the story?
From "Into the West"
"Good Country People"
O'Connor was considered a "regionalist" writer because she wrote only about the region where she grew up: the American South.

At one point, she wanted to be a cartoonist because she felt familiar with people's conversations and obviously listened very intently. As we read "Good Country People," you will probably see her cartoonist style.
*Born in Savannah, GA to a family of devout Catholics

*Lost her father at age 15

*Was stricken with Lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease, at age 25

"Good Country People"
(1950- )
"I Want to Be Miss América"
Miss USA 1966
*Born in the Dominican Republic, but moved to New York City at age 10 due to political unrest

*Writes novels, short stories, and memoirs about her experience trying to "belong" in American society and the struggles of looking different from the "ideal" American girl
Before we read...
Who is "the most beautiful woman in the United States?"

Who is the "All-American girl?"

Who is NOT the "All-American girl?"

a rhythmically free vocal style that imitates the natural inflections of speech and that is used for dialogue and narrative in operas and oratorios; also : a passage to be delivered in this style
(1931- )
*Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, OH

*Grew up in a mixed-race town; this "in-betweenness" is often reflected in her work

*Came of age during the civil rights era

*Became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize

*"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge" (Women's Worlds 1598).
This short story is about two girls, Twyla and Roberta, who have known one another since childhood. We learn about their lives through a series of vignettes.
"Rarely is the role of the reader more apparent than it is in our... selection, her 1983 short story 'Recitatif' (Women's Worlds 1599)."
"A black girl and a white girl meeting in a Howard Johnson's on the road and having nothing to say..."
Race: The Power of an Illusion, Part 1
1. At the beginning, what does Roosevelt mean by "Americanized?"

2. What happens if immigrants "cling" to old habits? What will happen to proceeding generations?

3. What does Roosevelt propose to do about immigrants?

4. Do you think we have a right to demand immigrants to become "Americanized?

5. What "ideas" must immigrants give up? Who do you think he is targeting?

6. Does Roosevelt want a "patchwork quilt" or a "melting pot?"
Words to Know...
a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
to absorb (immigrants or a culturally distinct group) into the prevailing culture.
one who is extremely poor.

absence of any form of political authority.
a mid-20th century political attitude characterized by anti-intellectualism, exaggerated patriotism, and fear of foreign subversive influences
: a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person.
: a scene of uproar and confusion
Walt Whitman: "Song of Myself"
Free verse: poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter.
After viewing the Levi's commercial...
What is your reaction to the commercial?

Do you think the style of this ad captures the spirit of Whitman’s work?

What sort of musical quality does this poem have?

Does the fact that this is an ad to sell jeans run contrary to the spirit of Whitman’s work?

How do you think Whitman would respond to this ad, if he were to see it?
Ralph Waldo Emerson: from
The Poet
"I look in vain for the poet whom I describe. We do not, with sufficient plainness, or
sufficient profoundness, address ourselves to life, nor dare we chaunt our own times
and social circumstance. If we filled the day with bravery, we should not shrink from
celebrating it. Time and nature yield us many gifts, but not yet the timely man, the new
religion, the reconciler, whom all things await."

"Dante's praise is, that he dared to write his autobiography in colossal cipher, or into universality. We have yet had no genius in America, with tyrannous eye, which knew the value of our incomparable materials, and saw, in the barbarism and materialism of the times.."

"...Our logrolling, our stumps and their politics, our fisheries, our Negroes, and Indians, our boasts, and our repudiations, the wrath of rogues, and the pusillanimity of honest men, the northern trade, the southern planting, the western clearing, Oregon, and Texas, are yet unsung. Yet America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not wait long for metres. "

"...I have not found that excellent combination of gifts in my countrymen which I seek..."
“If you are American, then Walt Whitman is your imaginative father and mother, even if, like myself, you have never composed a line of verse." --Harold Bloom, literary critic
Walt Whitman was considered the "Father of Free Verse"
Do you think Walt Whitman was able to meet Ralph Waldo Emerson's challenge? Is he the new "American poet?" Why or why not?
Pick out the most "American" line from "Song of Myself." Record this line properly, using quotation marks and MLA citations. Then, decorate your quote with symbols, colors, etc. that illustrate why this line is "American."
1. Who are “Good Country People?”

2. What is your impression of Hulga/ Joy?

3. How could the names of these characters be considered symbolic?
a. Joy/ Hulga
b. Mrs. Hopewell
c. Mrs. Freeman
d. Glynese and Carramae
Reading Questions
What is the significance of Joy's wooden leg?

What could this wooden leg symbolize?

Do we all have a wooden leg, where/what is it? Can we lose it? Do we hide it, keep it safe?
In Joy's book, she underlined the lines that refer to science wanting to know "nothing of Nothing." Why would she have interest in these lines?

How could her beliefs (or lacks thereof) be symbolic of Joy as a person?
Manley Pointer has also stolen a glass eye. What is the significance of his creepy obsession with the weird/private aspects of the human life?

Do you think this could be symbolic in some way? How?
What’s irony… again ?

A figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. It may also be a situation that may end up in quite a different way than what is generally anticipated.

Types of irony we see… dare I say…everyday?

A verbal irony involves what one does not mean. When in response to a foolish idea, we say, “what a great idea!” it is a verbal irony.

A situational irony occurs when, for instance, a man is chuckling at the misfortune of the other even when the same misfortune, in complete unawareness, is befalling him.

Someone PLEASE remind me what dramatic irony is…
Common Examples of Irony

Let us analyze some interesting examples of irony from our daily life:

• I posted a video on YouTube about how boring and useless YouTube is.
• The name of Britain’s biggest dog was “Tiny”.
• You laugh at a person who slipped stepping on a banana peel and the next thing you know, you slipped too.
• The butter is as soft as a marble piece.
• “Oh great! Now you have broken my new camera.”

Let’s examine a piece of literature we all know and love! Shakespeare’s masterpiece Romeo and Juliet

• Verbal irony. The words literally state the opposite of the writer's (or speaker's) true meaning. For example, the Prologue in Act I opens with "Two households, both alike in dignity, . . ." What? That’s irony???? Why?

• Situational irony. Events turn out the opposite of what was expected. What the characters and audience think ought to happen isn't what eventually happens. In Shakespeare's play, the young lovers do end up spending eternity together, but…

• Dramatic irony (sometimes called tragic irony). There are so many to choose from.

Back to my favorite… “Good Country People”

Let’s take a look at the following items and distinguish what makes them ironic.

• Irony plays a major role in this story on many different levels. One of the most obvious examples of this would be in the names of the characters themselves.
o Joy Hopewell
o Mrs. Hopewell
o Manly Pointer
o Mrs. Cedars- aka Mrs. Hopewell- what’s ironic about Manly’s interaction when he first meets Mrs. Hopewell?

• The incident between Hulga and Manly is ironic in numerous ways!

• Dramatic Irony- “She was brilliant but she didn’t have a grain of sense.”

Which girl is black and which girl is white?
Twyla doesn’t at first know what to think of Roberta, but Twyla remembers and agrees
with something her mother has told her, that people who are of Roberta’s race “never
washed their hair and they smelled funny.”
Both girls “were eight years old and got F’s all the time. Me [Twyla] because I couldn’t
remember what I read or what the teacher said. And Roberta because she couldn’t
read at all and didn’t even listen to the teacher. She wasn’t good at anything except
jacks, at which she was a killer. . . .”
Twyla: “The food was good, though. At least I though so. Roberta hated it and left whole pieces of things on her plate: Spam, Salisbury steak—even Jell-O with fruit
cocktail in it, and she didn’t care if I ate what she wouldn’t. [My mother’s] idea of supper
was popcorn and Yoo-Hoo. Hot mashed potatoes and two weenies was likeThanksgiving for me.”
Twyla: “I saw [my mother] right away. She had on those green slacks I hated and hated even more because didn’t she know we were going to chapel? And that fur jacket with the pocket linings so ripped she had to pull to get her hands out of them. But her face was pretty—like always—and she smiled and waved like she was the little girl looking for her mother. . . . But I couldn’t stay mad at [my mother] while she was smiling and hugging me and smelling of Lady Esther dusting powder. . . . and I was feeling proud because she looked so beautiful even in those ugly green slacks that made her behind
stick out.”
Twyla: “I was working behind the counter at the Howard Johnson’s on the Thruway just before the Kingston exit. Not a bad job. Kind of a long ride from Newburgh, but okay once I got there.”

Note: In the 1960’s, Newburgh and surrounding areas were almost exclusively white.
Roberta is in the Howard Johnson’s with two “hairy” men, and it is at this point we learn
that Roberta’s last name is “Fisk.”

Twyla describes Roberta’s appearance thus:
“Her own hair was so big and wild I could hardly see her face. But the eyes. I would know them anywhere. She had on a powder-blue halter and shorts outfit and earrings the size of bracelets. Talk about lipstick and eyebrow pencil.”

Roberta: “We’re on our way to the coast. He’s got an appointment with Hendrix.” She
gestured casually to one of the boys next to her.
Twyla: “Hendrix? Fantastic,” I said. “Really fantastic. What’s she doing now?” Roberta
coughed on her cigarette and the two guys rolled their eyes up at the ceiling.
Roberta: “Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix, asshole. He’s only the biggest—Oh, wow. Forget it.”
“She was waiting for me and her huge hair was sleek now, smooth around a small,nicely shaped head. Shoes, dress, everything lovely and summery and rich. I was dying to know what happened to her, how she got from Jimi Hendrix to Annandale, a neighborhood full of doctors IBM executives. Easy, I thought, Everything is so easy for them. They think they own the world. . . . And then I saw the dark blue limousine.”

Twyla thinks about what Roberta has told her about the Maggie incident:

“I was puzzled by her telling me Maggie was black. When I thought about it I actually couldn’t be certain. She wasn’t pitch black, I knew, or I would have remembered that. What I remember was the kiddie hat and the semicircle legs. I tried to reassure myself about the race thing for a long time until it dawned on me that the truth was already
there, and Roberta knew it. I didn’t kick her, I didn’t join in with the gar girls and kick that lady, I but I sure did want to. . . . Maggie was my dancing mother. Deaf, I thought, and dumb. Nobody inside. Nobody who would hear you if you cried in the night.

Nobody who could tell you anything important that you could use.”
How does race affect the plot of the story?

Who is black and who is white?

Does it matter?

How does this affect your interpretation of the characters?
West Side Story
(8 min)
Vocabulary Words:
Quintissential (adj.):
of or pertaining to the most perfect embodiment of something:
Enlighten (v.):
to give intellectual or spiritual light to; instruct; impart knowledge to
Aspiration (n.):
a strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition
Miss America Contestants
Early 1960s
"I Want to be Miss America"
by Julia Alvarez
*Detailed description of a Dominican girl's experience in America.

*Exhibits how race, gender, and class can affect immigrants in America

*Shows the impact that media have on people coming to the USA (and everyone else)
1. Reread the final paragraph of “Be American,” and then read Carl Sandburg’s short famous poem “Chicago” . What are the similarities in spirit? In each work, what has to be overcome to affirm that spirit? Are these works surprising in their respective conclusions?

2. How would you describe Bulosan’s protagonists? What are the problems and the advantages, for a writer, of centering stories on people with these aspirations and this inner life?
1. This nonfiction text offers insight into a prominent political figure's impression of immigrants.
2. We can see how current opinions of immigrants may have originated.
3. We can practice finding the author's main idea.
4. We can determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, and determine how they shape the tone of the text.
Be Just - Even to John Chinaman (1893)
The Mortar of Assimilation (1889)
Immigrant Propaganda: 2 Perspectives
Group Assignment
I will assign you into 4 different groups.

In your groups, interpret "True Americanism" (from
American Ideals
) line by line and write your interpretations on the sheet.
Walt Whitman Mini Bio (13 min)
Rhythm: a literary device which demonstrates the long and short patterns through stressed and unstressed syllables particularly in verse form.
Whitman's poetry reflects the same patterns as normal speech.
"Song of Myself" Section 1 Questions
1. What is the main topic of section 1?

2. What is the speaker saying in lines 10-13 about his past learning and his future?

"I Hear America Singing"
What words might Whitman have used to describe these people in "I Hear America Singing"?
"Cradling Wheat" by Thomas Hart Benton
*Much of Whitman's work was written after the Civil War
*Time of reconstruction in the U.S.
*Industrial boom; transition from agricultural life to industry
*Americans began to express individuality
Think: How can we see these cultural influences in Whitman's work?
"Song of Myself" Section 6 Questions
1. How does Whitman use the image of grass as a metaphor for the speaker's thoughts about humanity and America?

2. What does the speaker say about death in lines 20-27?

3. What do these lines say about Whitman's views of life and death?
"Pioneers! O Pioneers!" (7 min)
(5 min.)
"The Yellow Wall-Paper"
"O Captain! My Captain!"
Extended Metaphor:
refers to a comparison between two unlike things that continues throughout a series of sentences in a paragraph or lines in a poem.

(in literature) a figure of speech sometimes represented by exclamation “O”. A writer or a speaker, using an apostrophe, detaches himself from the reality and addresses an imaginary or dead character.
Discussion Questions
1. What was actually going on in the wallpaper in the narrator's room? Is anyone to blame?

2. What symbols did you find in the short story? Room details? Journal? Wallpaper?

3. Do you think the narrator was
at the end of the story? Explain.

4. What was Gilman's purpose in writing this story? What was the message in this piece?
Where are YOU from?
Socratic Seminar: Rules
1) Talk to each other, not just to the discussion leader or teacher.

2) Refer to evidence from the text to support your ideas.

3) Ask questions if you do not understand what someone has said, or you can paraphrase what another student has said for clarification. (“I think you said this, is that right?”)

4) You do not need to raise your hands to speak, but please pay attention to your “airtime” – how much you have spoken in relation to other students.

Rules, cont'd
5) Don’t interrupt.

6) Don’t put down the ideas of another student. Without judging the student who you may disagree with, state your alternate interpretation or ask a follow-up question to help probe or clarify an idea.

Socratic Seminar
Tomorrow, we will have a fish bowl Socratic seminar.

This is a discussion in which you will be assessed on your understanding of the text, your ability to ask questions, and your contribution to the discussion.

You will need to participate at least three times in the discussion for a grade.
Vito Corleone (
The Godfather
) 4 min.
Ellis Island: Place of Refuge?
What is a refugee?
What would YOU do?
Due Friday!
As we read "True Americanism" and "American Dream: No Illusions", please take notes on the hard copies as well as the worksheets. Be prepared to have a discussion tomorrow!
Full transcript