Maus Chapter 3 and 4: Visualizing the Two Vladeks (Day 2 of 3)

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SWBAT analyze the development of a character by examining the juxtaposition of Vladek as a soldier and a POW.

Big Idea

It is all in the visual: find the two Vladeks in the text and in the picture.


Today the sophomores and juniors are taking the PSAT. We are on an alternative schedule and classes are only 25 minutes long.

The students are tired.  They spent the morning taking the PSAT.  I don't want to introduce new information today.  So, this lesson continues the the evaluation of the two Valdeks: soldier vs. prisoner.  They will use the work they did in the last class to create a visual representation of the soldier vs. the prisoner.  The activity plus the explanation of the visual gives the students a concrete example of juxtaposition. This activity will prepare them to apply their analysis of the two perspectives of Vladek to tomorrow's lesson on how the changes in Vladek impact the plot and the other characters.

Normally this would be a two day lesson, however due to the 25 minute class today, I will stretch it into three days.   

Let's Get Started: Quick Review of the Two Valdeks

5 minutes

As the students get settled, I tell them to take out the work from the last class.  I go around the room and rapidly ask students to give an adjective that either describes Vladek as a soldier or as a POW. I put their responses in a chart on the smartboard.  I want to quickly get them to focus on the character of Vladek and his evolution from soldier to prisoner. Next I ask a couple of students what the difference between the two Vladeks.

This activity sets up the juxtaposition between soldier Vladek and prisoner Vladek.  The chart on the smartboard has a side-by-side comparison of the two Vladeks. The students can use this chart as a reference for the next activity.


Building Knowledge: Juxtaposition through Illustration

15 minutes

Today the illustrator and the credibility checker are going to lead the group.  Students chose their group roles in the last class and will continue though the next class. Using the same Maus Chapters 3 & 4power point, I move on to slide 8.  

I give each group a white sheet of paper and tell them to fold it hamburger style or the fat way.  Next they create two pictures based on their understanding of Vladek as a soldier and as a POW.

žCreate a visual that demonstrates the juxtaposition between the soldier and the POW.
  • žOn the left side find a passage that describes soldier Vladek.  On the right side POW Vladek.
  • žCreate an original  image that supports your passage.
  • žAt the bottom explain the juxtaposition of the two Vladeks.
Students have about 15 minutes or so to complete the visual.  I put out the crayons, markers, and color pencils and the students get to work.  They are focused on finding the right passage to support their interpretation of Vladek. The Common Core standard RL 9-10 3 asks students to analyze the development of a character over the course of a text.  By examining how Vladek evolves from a soldier to a POW, the students can see how the changes in his behavior not only advance the plot but also illustrate how the will to survive develops in Vladek.  
Additionally, the figurative language Spiegelman uses to describe Vladek also shows how he struggles to come to terms with his ever changing situation -- from businessman to soldier to POW.  The students have to choose a passage that best describes how the words help them to comprehend Vladek and demonstrate the juxtaposition of the character. As the students comprehend the juxtaposition of the character they can make the connection to the setting. As a soldier, Vladek is an anonymous Polish citizen unsure of his role in the war. While as a prisoner, Vladek is a Jew. He looses his nationality and defines his role in the war.  The language defines the time and place (CCSS RL 9-10. 4).


Wrap Up: Report Out

5 minutes

Finally, we go around the room and the reporter from each group shares their drawing and explains their choices on how their group juxtaposed the soldier and POW. After the presentation, students can ask questions or make suggestions to clarify ideas.  Sharing their examples of juxtaposition with the class allows different perspectives to emerge and deepens the overall discussion. (CCSS SL 9-10. 4).  

Each group turned in their illustration on the way out the door.