Stumped. Stymied. Befuddled. Flustered. Perplexed. Mystified. Stuck.
That’s what I felt when trying to decide how to introduce the next novel in my class, Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Even though I’m teaching American Literature in this college-level course, I’m using an African novel principally because Paton used Steinbeck’s style, motifs, and some of the patterns of The Grapes of Wrath. Also, Paton drew inspiration from Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and Lincoln’s “Second Inaugural Address.”
Still, I needed something to draw in the kids. I decided to do something I hadn’t done all year: I started with a movie. I used The Power of One, a fantastic film (though inferior to the novel, still a great flick) about a young English boy who grows increasingly political fighting for equality in southern Africa, which is being dominated by Afrikaner rule. The kids love it!
I also added as a teaser for the kids that this film was the first for Daniel Craig, the new James Bond. The gals were wooed and the guys were awed. Of course, this is a very un-Bond type role for Craig, but the students were impressed all the same.
This film, along with the historical introduction preceding the novel, made for an excellent start to this unit.