Who's the man? Characters' motivations in "The Most Dangerous Game" and writing a thesis

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SWBAT analyze the development of characters with conflicting motivations by discussing images and writing a short response; SWBAT use a planning process to draft the thesis for the introductory paragraph of a comparison/contrast essay.

Big Idea

Students referee the conflict between two characters and draft the thesis for a comparison contrast essay

Do Now

10 minutes

When students enter the room, I will have them respond to the following "Do Now":

"What do Rainsford's beliefs about hunting reveal about his personality?"

In this response they must use details from what they have read in order to answer the question (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). I am choosing to have them respond to this question because they read several pages of "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell for homework, and answered text dependent questions about General Zaroff, but they also should have learned something about Rainsford. This question connects to today's work because we will be using this information and information from a clip to analyze the development of complex characters in the text based on their interactions with other characters (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3).

While they work on their response to the question, I will be walking around to check for the completed homework assignment, the text dependent question for pp. 44-51 of the story. After about 5 minutes, I'll have a few students share their responses and have a short discussion in which other students will share whether they agree or disagree with their peers perspectives (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d) in order to practice their speaking and listening skills.

Building Knowledge: Sharing ideas about the Characters

15 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will explain to students that we are now moving on from analyzing the setting and mood of the story (in the last lesson) to looking more closely at the characters AND we are going to use the Venn Diagrams they worked on last class to draft a thesis for their comparative contrast essays.

I will ask a few students to share their responses to a few of the homework questions:

  • What are some of Rainsford's inital descriptions of General Zaroff's appearance? How is the chateau described in the story? What perception of Zaroff does this give the reader?
  • How does Rainsford react when General Zaroff reveals his "invented" prey?
  • What is General Zaroff's philosophy on life?

I am hoping that answering these questions will give use some insight into the motivations and personalities of the characters (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3), so I have chosen to have students share their responses to these questions because we are going to be looking at some pictures and a movie clip to see if we can uncover some of the characters' complexities in today's lesson.

Application: Analyzing Images

20 minutes

In this application section, students will view two images of men that have characteristics of Rainsford and General Zaroff. I am asking them to study the images and the descriptions of both characters provided in the text and determine which one of the images best portrays the characteristics of the characters in the story. Image 1 and Image 2 have similarities, so it will be interesting to see which ones they select for General Zaroff and Rainsford. I am having them do this because it will force them to go back to the text to really dissect what is explicitly stated in the text in order to come to a conclusion about the images. I'll admit, I also like to hear them argue (with substance). As they discuss I will be walking around to probe them even further...and sometimes play devil's advocate.

Here's a clip of students studying the pictures on the flipchart and using what they read about each character to justify their selection of image and arguing it out with his teacher (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d)--gotta love him for that: Clip 1.

Clip 2 shows another student using details to select the character on the left as General Zaroff. At the end of the clip, you'll hear a student saying "I'll read it again." I love it when that happens!

Building Knowledge: Adding More Information about the Characters

15 minutes

For this section of the lesson, students will view a five minute Youtube video from the New York Times, entitled "Russia's Cossack Revival."

This video was suggested in our Harford County Public Schools 9th grade ELA curriculum. I am using this video because I want students to be able to explain how General Zaroff's background may have influenced his philosophy on life and why this may be different from Rainsford's background. As they watch the clip, I am encouraging them to listen for ideas that may have influenced General Zaroff and jot them down.

After the video, I will ask students to orally share how they think the Cossack traditions mentioned in the video may have influenced General Zaroff's views (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a). I am having them share out loud first because I want them to talk about it before putting their ideas to paper.

I'll close out this reading/viewing part of the lesson by having my students answer this question on paper: "How might General Zaroff's Cossack background have influenced philosophy on life? Use details from the video and the text in your response."  After my students have responded to this question, I will tell them that we will be transitioning to the writing portion of the lesson. We will be referring back to two texts that we have recently read for the next part of our work.

Building Knowledge: Writing a thesis statement

20 minutes

As I mentioned at the end of the previous section, for this section of the lesson, I will tell them that we are finished (for now) with "The Most Dangerous Game," and we are going to transition to our writing objective for the next 15 minutes in order to draft our thesis statement.  I am having them transition to writing in this lesson because I believe in using every minute of instructional time, AND because a little writing never killed anyone.  Last class, we started generating ideas about a comparison contrast essay on which students will choose to compare two characters in "The Gift of the Magi," by O. Henry and "The Necklace," by Guy de Maupassant.

I'll refer them back to the Venn Diagrams they created during the last lesson and ask them to pick 3 topics they can compare and contrast about the two characters they selected: Jim and Monsieur Loisel or Mathilde and Della From "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Necklace." I'll tell them that we are going to be using college materials to draft work on the thesis and planning of the essay. I'll tell them that I chose to use college material because I know they can handle it and we are becoming college ready anyway. In order to model the expectation for selecting three ideas or concepts to discuss in their essay, I'll have them work with me to come up with three topics to compare and contrast for both sets of characters.

For example:

Madame Loisel and Della

1)social status

2)needs and wants

3) personality and actions


Jim and Monsier Loisel

1)social status

2)relationships with their wives


I found an outline for the comparison contrast essay on http://www.sbcc.edu/clrc/files/wl/downloads/WritingaCompareContrastEssay.pdf.  We will be using the point by point method of comparing for this essay, so I'll have my students cross off the block method. I have chosen this outline because not only does it provide the outline format, but also, it includes a plain example about cats and dogs that students will easily understand.

Check out this video explaining how I use the model from the website mentioned above to demonstrate what the thesis should look. For this part, I can't give away too much because I don't want them to simply copy my thesis.

After the model, I will have students spend 10 minutes working on drafting their thesis statement.  As my students write their thesis, they will be introducing the topic and organizing their three ideas purposefully (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2a). I allow them to do this in class so that I can give them feedback on their sentences as I circulate the room.

For the next lesson, we will work on drafting the rest of the introduction.



5 minutes

The closure activity today is an formative assessment of where students think they will struggle on their writing. They will answer the following question:

"Based on your writing on the first essay, in what areas do you think you might struggle on the comparison contrast essay?"

I am having them answer this question so that I can see where I might help those students that are anxious about writing.