This week we’re beginning two novels I enjoy teaching: The Red Badge of Courage and The Princess Bride. Plus, the kids can easily relate to these two tales, and here’s a very brief summary of how I teach them thematically.
With Crane’s work we discuss the “loud” nature of the immature, vain, and glory-seeking characters in contrast to the practical, duty driven, and responsible ones. The students definitely connect with the portrayal of immaturity as vocalized bravado, seeing this behavior in their friends and sometimes their families. Additionally, the students enjoy seeing definitions of courage develop, the romantic view of war challenged, and the determination of what constitutes duty and glory. Of course, The Red Badge of Courage is an excellent means of discussing American Romanticism, Realism, and Naturalism.
With Goldman’s unconventional fairy tale about a “princess bride”, the students truly enjoy exploring this satirical look at life. Starting right away with the fictionalized account of Goldman’s youth and the rediscovery of a classic fairy tale, the students learn not to trust the narrator and that they must read the story with their own purposes in mind, not with those of the author. The commentaries on celebrity, being the “best,” true love, reality and idealism, and more bring this novel to life in numerous ways. Of course, they are surprised by the biting humor absent from the movie, which adds to the fun of the novel’s study.
Fun week ahead!