Figurative Language: Rose, Python, Hearth, Salamander

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SWBAT identify and explain specific word choices that define figures in literature by critically reading the opening chapters of the novel.

Big Idea

Symbolic language has a high affective domain and is worth studying carefully!

Study Guide for Opening Chapter

20 minutes

The students are interested in beginning of Fahrehnheit 451 and will be delving into the opening pages prior to class as homework.  The study guide with audiobook F451 gives students the chance to respond to some opening ideas in the first couple of questions.  The study guide will help me with some student-centered diagnostic feedback on how they are faring right away with the novel, and it will give the students the chance to enter at their own speed and pace, which should help create a relaxed approach to a difficult novel. 

This part of the lesson is geared toward gaining some background knowledge and some basic vocabulary terms so that we can begin to discuss figurative language in the next section.  Each student has a chromebook computer, and they will do the following prompts, first individually, and then shared as a whole class.  The point of this lesson is to begin to forge our class's approach to the novel, so we are all together in a large group. 


1.)    Watch the 60-second summary of the book as a preview.  This will avoid basic-level confusions that may exist for readers.

 What do you think is the most significant fact/detail about the book thus far?


2.)    Symbols: The Hearth & Salamander are both symbols in this chapter (it’s the chapter title).  Look up both words in an online dictionary (L.9-10.4d), and write their definitions here (you can shorten these or paraphrase):




Now, take a look at each of these and explain how they might be symbolic (L.9-10.4).  Find a word or two (or even a whole sentence) from the book that has figurative language that is used to describe each of these.   Explain the connotations of each of these descriptions.


Searching for Symbols pp.1-10 of Fahrenheit 451

20 minutes

The goal in this section is to see if students are beginning to internalize our initial discussion of the song lyrics, particularly their ability to determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings (RL.9-10.4).  We are turning toward the symbolic images from the novel, so  it's important to explore figurative language by focusing on the connotations of words, as I mention in the video above.

We will examine the tone that Bradbury creates when he uses the symbols of the python (hose), the hearth, the minstrel man, the salamander, and the parlor (pages 1-9).  I plan to ask students to begin to think about the following questions:

1.) What is de-humanization?  What does it mean to be treated as less than human?

2.) How does Bradbury seem to feel about dehumanization?  

3.) How does he use symbolic language around key images and symbols to create a strong tone regarding this theme.

I will seek to invite all of the students into the discussion (SL.9-10.1) and to draw out some students by using direct questioning.  It's vitally important for me to do this as diagnostic work, to see how many of the student might be having trouble with accessing Bradbury's world.


To address these questions and focus on figurative language, I plan to engage in "talking to the text" a  technique described by Cynthia Greenleaf and her team in the book, Reading for Understanding.  The students will alternate reading page by page the opening 10 pages of the novel, and I will ask them to note figurative language, especially words that seem to have strong figurative connotations.  

Wrap Up

5 minutes

I will assign the homework, which is to read 15-20 pages of the text.  The challenge here is that I want to make sure to enculturate the class to high standards of reading rigorously and expansively, so I want to assign a large portion of text, but want to make sure that a real connection is made to the story world by each student.