Comparing the Short Story "Home Now" to American Born Chinese (Day 2 of 3)

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SWBAT explore the theme of assimilation in two texts by evaluating the character's attitudes in "Home Now" and American Born Chinese.

Big Idea

Students evaluate "Home Now" and compare it to the graphic novel.

Review of Story

10 minutes

Today's lesson focuses on going deeper into the short story "Home Now" and beginning to compare it to American Born Chinese on a deeper level.  The students have already read the story in class yesterday and re-read it for homework, so I will expect them to have the plot of the story firmly in mind, but I will review that at first before moving into deeper analysis. 

Large group discussion of the eight plot elements, quick objective summary (RL.9-10.2) using specific textual evidence and quotations (RL.9-10.1)! 

1.) What do you remember from the plot of "Home Now"? 

2.) What do you think is the most significant event and why?  That is to say, when he flashes back to his memory of his dad, how does that create a sense of surprise and empathy in you as a reader?  When the homeless man twice approaches him, why does he react in such a drastic way, and how do these reactions build our sense of Robert in the story?

3.) What do you think is the message about the theme of transformation?  (RL.9-10-2) About assimilation?  

Character Graphing and Insights

15 minutes

Understanding assimilation and identity (as Yang defines them).  We will begin to go deeper into the story and deeper into comparisons with the novel by first examining a visual representation of the theme of assimilation (RL.9-10.2) and then by discussing that theme in context with the main character, Jin Wang/Danny.  I am doing this because I want students to see a progression from being an individual to being a sort of stereotype (Danny) or transformation back again to one's true self.  It's important for students to understand the theme of being one's unique person (RL.9-10.2) even if a student comes from a non-mainstream tradition or group.  Too, the students should understand from this that not all transformations are good! (RL.9-10.2) so they need to be in control of the changes that are occurring in their own lives.  


Across texts in this lesson.  Further, the students can apply these insights across stories by evaluating the character from the short story, "Home Now."  Does Robert from that short story appear to be more of a phony, stereotype (Danny, here left) or more of a humble, self-accepting, open type (Jin, here right). 


I will ask:

I put this image on the board and have the students draw it in their notes.  I ask:

1.) What did Danny give up to become is real self, Jin Wang?  Do you think he'll be happier?

2.) After you draw this image, label the Danny and the Jin-Wang sides with the following items: hopes, desires, insecurities, relationships, and values.  (RL.9-10.3)



[Note: I am using image frames in my write- up of this lesson as a form of visual quotation.  I do not wish to infringe on the copyrights of the author or publisher by quoting lengthy sequences of images; however, my explanations in this unit will make little sense without these essential visual quotations.]


Connections to Assimilation Theme

15 minutes

This is a challenging set of prompts.  I plan to write them on the board and have the students work through them with their partner.  This aspect of the lesson will give social support to the students as they work through each prompt. 



1.) Now, place Robert from "Home Now: on this continuum.  Where do you think his name should go?  (If the left side is assimilation, and the right is acceptance of self/culture/identity).  (RL.9-10.2)  

- How did you make the choice that you did?

- What factors have affected Robert the strongest? (RL.9-10.3)

- How does his memory of the Japanese story, with the kingdom under the sea, help give him peace?  What is the equivalent for Jin Wang?


2.) Do you think the two authors would agree or disagree about this theme?  Why?  What structural choices did they use to get their theme across (RL.9-10.5)?