Poem summary and character Declaration

Assignment 4

PORTFOLIO ASSIGNMENT 3.2: POEM SUMMARY AND CHARACTERDECLARATION

As you know, good readers make textual connections. These textualconnections are text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world. We’ll bereviewing each of these textual connections throughout the course. For thisassignment, you’ll be making a text-to-text connection.

Text-to-text connections are more than superficially comparingcharacters from one book to another. I often hear students try to pawn off atext-to-text connection such as, “A character in Book A answered the telephone,and so did the character in Book B. That’s a connection.” Well . . . not quite.Let’s try to go a little deeper.

One way to make text-to-text connections is when you have aprimary text likeThe Crucible, then afterreading another text, you evaluate the primary text in a different way. Forthis assignment, you will be given a poem and then asked to apply and comparethe primary text, which, in your case, isThe Crucible. But first,read and understand the poem below.

Disillusionment ofTen O’clock2

—Wallace Stevens

The houses are haunted

by white night-gowns

none are green,

or purple with green rings,

or yellow with blue rings.

None of them are strange,

with socks of lace

and beaded ceintures.

People are not going

to dream of baboons and periwinkles.

Only, here and there, an old sailor,

drunk and asleep in his boots,

catches Tigers,

in red weather.

Right away, one of the first questions students ask me whenreading this poem is, “What’s a ‘ceinture’?” A ceinture is a beaded belt. Whenreading poems, imagine the action. We have two areas of action in this poem:the houses haunted by people in their nightgowns getting ready for bed and thedrunken sailor probably down at the docks. Once you have the center of action,you can begin to visualize the meaning of the poem.

First, let’s discuss the nightgown people. What are these peoplelike? First of all, they’re going to bed at ten o’clock in plain, white nightgowns. What image strikes you with the verb “haunted”? Are these peopledrifting through their own homes? Are they full of life? Why so muchdescription of what their nightgowns arenot?

Second, the sailor who falls asleep in his boots, what is he like?Is he full of life, or is he drifting through his life in plain night clothes?

Third, why is the bedtime, ten o’clock, such a disillusionment?The speaker of the poem (not the same as the poet) is making an observationabout how to live life. What do you think it is?

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