This is a hilarious and FUN way of exploring tone in writing, exploring how a change of tone or narrative persona can change the fundamentals of the story itself (RL.9-10.5). It actually occurs in the second section of this lesson. Check my introduction to this lesson: What's with the monkey on my roof?
I'd love to get your feedback on this lesson if you choose to run it in your classroom!
We begin the reading of American Born Chinese, a graphic novel by Gene Yang by examining how point of view affects the visualization that the author gives the reader in the graphics. At times, we have a close up of the Monkey King (page 16) and at times, we see that he feels alone because he is surrounded by darkness and is slumped over (page 20). In each of these instances, the main character's experiences are reflected in the way the visual is drawn.
We will touch on the relevant vocabulary that artist's use in their craft:
Point of View
How does the Monkey feel when we get a close up of his [angry] face in the fight scene with the other gods (RL.9-10.3)? How has the author structured the images in this scene and in the scenes leading up to it in order to give this effect? (RL.9-10.5)
Why did he become so angry [cause-effect inference] and what does this reveal about his character? (RL.9-10.3)
How does this story compare to other stories with themes of of rejection that we have already read this year, for example "Hollywood and the Pits" and even "The Kid Nobody Could Handle"? (RL.9-10.2; RL.9-10.10)
When we continue to read on, look at how this theme of rejection/alienation/assimilation functions in the stories of Jin-Wang and Danny! In our next lesson, we will look very closely at how the graphic panels cut back and forth between Danny and Chinkee to give a sense of the character's inner worlds. (RL.9-10.2)
Possible script: "In an upcoming unit, you'll be writing your own fictional stories in what we'll call the Character Cameo story. For now, we have a fun, short writing that will get you to explore the narrator's point of view. This choice in structure of a story gives you as a writer a lot of control, and it's a ton of fun! Throughout this unit, pay attention to how much power you have as a writer, because the teller of the story IS the story!" (W.9-10.3c)
We will read Meandering Monkey from a Florida newspaper that is somewhat lighthearted in that it depicts the story of a monkey that had escaped and was on the house of a Florida resident. Ironically, we are reading about the Monkey King in class as well, so the students may have a connection there, as well.
I will pass out the prompt and read it to them, and then I will challenge them to select a perspective from which to retell the story. For example, a student might select the perspective of someone who is "angry," and thus might pick a disgruntled neighbor; another student might pick the perspective of someone who is "open-minded" which may come off as sounding a nature lover or hippie type. In any case, we will read these out loud to each other and discuss how the different narrators create a different story altogether (RL.9-10.9).
Quick discussion ensues tying the reading of American Born Chinese to the process of writing our own stories.
1.) What effects did the different narrators have on the stories you wrote today? Do you think that is true of all stories? What about stories from a 3rd person perspective? What is 3rd-person limited?
2.) How does point of view affect how you feel about the Monkey King? We clearly take his point of view and consider him to be the hero. Sometimes, we literally see things through his eyes. How does his personality affect how we view the world around him?