Links in a Chain: Examining Character Development in Chapter 38
Lesson 4 of 7
Objective: SWABT analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot and develop theme by linking the three main characters together.
We are All Links on a Chain
In the chapter we are about to read, we see different sides of Estella and Miss Havisham: for the first time, Estella is hostile toward her adopted mother, and Miss Havisham appears vulnerable and hurt in response. It is in this chapter that Pip sees how Miss Havisham has caused Estella's "cold, cold heart," and how he too has changed himself to be more like these unhappy people, and less like Joe.
Before we read, students will work in assigned groups making a chain link for each of these characters based on what we have read so far. Each group will get strips of paper and tape to complete the chains. I will provide the beginning event for each character:
Compeyson jilts Miss Havisham
Estella is adopted by Miss Havisham
Pip is sent to Satis House
Students will build from this first link in the change, illustrating how one person's actions toward another can determine the course of their lives (RL.9-10.3). I will reference the Personal Journeys that each students created at the beginning on the unit, in order to provide context and to clarify instructions.
This activity will help us better understand some themes of the text: our own pride and selfishness causes pain to others, but generosity of heart hurts no one.
Today we will read the chapter, utilizing a fun and engaging strategy: Reader's Theater (RL.9-10.10). I have created scripts for each character with a speaking role throughout the chapter, including the narrator, so four students will read today. You can do this too by photocopying the text and highlighting the dialogue for each character a different color. For today's class, I will chose students that I think will bring life to specific characters to be the readers. This is a crucial chapter to understand and I want to make sure that each reader will help bring deeper meaning to the text.
I like using the scripts for chapters with several speakers because hearing the lines through distinct voices helps the students differentiate characters, which in turn helps them understand, not only plot, but theme. This method also allows for more participation from more students.
After reading, each group will add final links to their chains. Some of the additions will be obvious-- Estella clearly blames Miss Havisham for her cold heart-- while others will be more subtle-- Pip as narrator reflects on this episode, trying to decipher his role in the scene and the realizes flaws in the upper class that he did not see before (RL.9-10.2). I will ask students to include a quote from the chapter on these links in order to be sure that they are citing evidence from the text (RL.9-10.1).
At the end, a spokesperson from each group will walk the class through one of their links (SL.9-10.1). This exercise will act as the assessment of the activity and will allow students to share their work with their peers.
Very quickly, I will assign homework, which is for students to take what they learned in class today to write a theme statement about the chapter (RL.9-10.2). I am trying to teach students that it one word "themes" often fall short (Sparknotes is failing them on this one); instead a full theme is usually a sentence. Therefore, it isn't enough to say that the theme is "love;" they need a sentence that explains what the novel suggests about love, something like "true love requires self-sacrifice."
They are writing a simple theme statement now because they will elaborate on it after we read the next chapter.