Different Culture, Different Roles: Women in Two Societies

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SWBAT compare and contrast the experiences of Noumbe with the archetype of an American wife by analyzing the relationships between the male and female characters in “Her Three Days” By Sembene Ousamne.

Big Idea

Are women's roles the same around the world? To answer this question, students will compare roles of women in Mali and in America.

Let's Get Started: Review of the Archetype of American Women

10 minutes

I begin class by drawing the students back to the last class and their list of roles for women.  I write a simple definition of archetype on the whiteboard: a pattern or model that can be copied.  The first slide of the Her three days powerpoint asks students to work in groups to recreate the chart from Monday. I tell them to include any new insights they may have after reading "Why I Want a Wife" By Judy Brady.  

Since we are moving into a discussion (SL 9-10.1) about a culture that is different than our own (RL 9-10.6), I want to make sure that the class has a solid foundation on their archetype of an American woman.  After the cart is complete, I begin to move the discourse away from American culture and ask them to consider do all cultures have the same expectations for women? This question can also be interpreted as do cultures treat women differently?

The next question I ask is it appropriate for us to evaluate/critique another culture based on our understanding of women's roles? Students may still be struggling with their personal definition of women's roles especially when considering that biology is universal and it is unclear if women have to be the biology or if the concepts of wife and mother are universal. 

Finally I ask, "What would be the challenges for a woman in our culture to live in a culture vastly different from our own?" Since many of my students split their time between Mexico and the United States they have some experiences with what it is like to live in a different society.



Building Knowledge: Story Overview of "Her Three Days by Sembene Ousamne

10 minutes

Time to transition to "Her Three Days" which students read and annotated for homework.  To begin, I ask the students to write a brief objective summary of the story (RL 9-10.2). I like to make sure that we have a solid foundation of the events in the plot before we start a more complex discussion on characters. I remind them that a summary is about information not inferences.  Just the story facts. I also tell them that they can use their homework questions to develop the summary.  

I give them a few minutes to write and then I call on a few students from around the room to share their summaries.  Finally, I ask if anyone has a clarifying question about the story before we begin the discussion.  If a student does have a question, I encourage other students to answer it.  I only provide an answer if the student are unable to respond or maybe I would add some information to clarify a point.  Ultimately, it is their discussion. 

Building Knowledge: Character Development

20 minutes

As I launch into the story, I pose this question on the powerpoint: How does an author create a character (RL 9-10. 3)?  I am looking for the following responses: 

  • ▫Physical/psychological description from narrator
  • ▫Character’s words and actions
  • ▫The words and actions of other characters
We have worked on characterization in the  Maus unit, therefore it should be review.  
Now, we move move into "Her Three Days." I ask, "Which character in “Her Three Days” do we know the most about?  Why?"

Next I show the class a character chart.  Each group has to complete the chart for Noumbe, the main character, and one additional character such as her friend Aida.  Finally they have to present their character to the class for discussion (SL 9-10. 1a). The story takes place in West Africa. The students cannot rely solely on what they know about family behavior. They have to put themselves in the context of a polygamous family in West Africa in order to analyze the characters (RL 9-10. 6).

Applying Knowledge: Cultural Analysis of Noumbe

40 minutes

After the presentations and discussion, I ask them to complete a chart on roles and responsibilities of Noumbe  (RL.9-10. 1).  I only include "home" and "society".  I tell the students "biology" is biology.  They don't need to write the same thing twice. 

After a brief class discussion on Noumbe's roles in the home and society. I give them the following prompt.  I want them to write in essay forma,  however, I want to work on their organizational skills, so I give them the pattern to follow as they write an analysis of Noumbe's role in her community.

•Who is Noumbe?
•What are her responsibilities?
•What are her desires?
•How does Noumbe personify women in her culture?
•Be thoughtful in your analysis. Use evidence from the text to support your position.  The writing assignment asks students to follow a consistent pattern and tone (W 9-10 2e) to analyze Noumbe as an archetype of her culture (RL 9-10.6).
In the last class we examined the archetype of the American woman.  By analyzing the character of Noumbe, they can develop their knowledge in how gender roles differ in different cultures. 


Closing: Checking for Symbolism in "Her Three Days"

10 minutes

Finally, for homework, students have to write a literary device on symbolism in "Her Three Days." The goal of a literary device is to use a specific sequence to organize a paragraph that provides a clear and concise analysis of the function of a literary element in a text(L 9-10. 5a). Literary elements, like symbolism, are domain specific vocabulary (W 9-10 2d). 

My students first experienced writing literary devices when we read Othello. "Her Three Days" is the first literary piece we have read this semester.  I want them to engage in looking at how literary elements like symbol impact the text. It is important for them to continue to analyze and explain how literary elements function in a variety of texts.