Western Influences on Chinua Achebe: The Second Coming and Things Fall Apart (Day 2 of 2)

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SWBAT analyze how Chinua Achebe draws on the poem “The Second Coming” By W.B. Yeats for inspiration for Things Fall Apart.

Big Idea

Students will examine the western poem "The Second Coming" to find clues about the African novel, "Things Fall Apart."

Let's Get Started: Identifying Theme

15 minutes

We are hitting the ground running...I hope.  As the students arrive, they see the following directions on the board:  "Use the knowledge gained from yesterdays discussion and your on-going analysis from the homework to determine the theme of "The Second Coming" (RL 9-10.2) . Use evidence from the text to prove your answer."

I do not attend to collect this assignment as it serves as an introductory activity, so I tell them to put it in the bell work section of their notebooks.  

I walk around the room listening to their discussions.  No slacking today; it is brain on from the moment they arrive. As each student posit his or her theme in their groups, I encourage them to show how them theme develops from one stanza to the other.  

Finally, they share their theme with the class. 


Building Knowledge: Reviewing Homework in Small Groups

30 minutes

Now, I want the students to discuss in their groups their answers to the homework. The had to answer the first four questions on The Second Coming handout.  I am not one for collecting and grading homework.  It is important for students to realize that learning and/or academic growth is not equivalent to a grade.  The majority of the time that I assign homework, the students will need it to complete an activity in class. Their homework will help them better comprehend the poem so they can eventually make an inference to why Chinua Achebe took the title for his book from this poem and how he transforms some of the concepts in the poem into the novel (RL.9-10.9).

The class has the next 30 minutes to compare their answers on the homework and clarify any confusion a group member may have about the poem or the questions (SL.9-10.1). 


Applying Knowledge: Troubles my sight: The Second Coming in Things Fall Apart.

10 minutes

Once the discussion of the majority of their homework has ended, I ask students to answer in groups question number four of the homework:  Why did Achebe choose to title his novel with a phrase from this poem?  

Students work in their groups to answer this question (SL 9-10.1c). I want to distinguish this question from the rest of the homework. It is the first step in looking for how Achebe actually transforms the western concepts from "The Second Coming" and "The Sacrifice of Isaac" into Okonkwo's narrative in Things Fall Apart (RL 9-10. 9) .  

Applying Knowledge: Surely some revelation is at hand: Western influence in "Things Fall Apart"

40 minutes

This is definitely a "brain on" lesson.  I know refer my students to our list of Chinua Achebe's seven purposes for writinthat the class identified when we read his obituary. Purpose one and four both deal with the potential influence of western literature (RI 9-10.6 and RL 9-10.6).  The first states, "He wanted to use literature as a weapon against western biases." The fourth says, "The [western] reading he studied thought his education influenced his writing."

Now that the students have established why they believe that Achebe took the title from "The Second Coming", I want them to take it to the next level.  They will use textual evidence from "Things Fall Apart", to show how he transforms the themes and concepts from "The Second Coming", and "The Sacrifice of Isaac" into a novel about the clash of Igbo and British Colonial culture (RL 9-10.9).  Then they will present their discoveries of the  influence of western literature to the class (SL.9-10.4). Ideally I want them to be able to prove that Achebe is either using his novel, Things Fall Apart,  as a weapon against western biases or demonstrating the connection to western literature based on his education.  Both of these concepts are on the class's list of seven purposes for writing that we established earlier in the unit. 

Wrap Up: Its hour come round at last: homework

5 minutes

As students wrap up their work, I remind them to read chapters 11 to 13 in Things Fall Apart and answer the guiding questions in order to prepare for tomorrow's discussion.