Read “Thank You Ma’am,” by Langston Hughes.
Respond to the Story
- The first sentence of the story suggests that the tone will be humorous. What other details in the story add to the humorous effect?
- Despite the light tone, the story deals with a serious subject. Which details in the story tell you that the purpose of the story is more serious?
- Do you think that meeting Mrs. Jones will turn out to be a turning point in Roger’s life? Explain.
- What is the kindest thing that a stranger has ever done for you or someone you know?
Create a Thank-You Letter
Write a thank-you letter to Mrs. Jones using the point of view or voice of Roger after several years have passed. In the letter, you should review the events and the effect her kindness had on Roger. Tell her about what has happened since. Remember the course focus, “The Human Condition – In Search of Self.” Try to include some comments about how Mrs. Jones changed Roger’s life.
Use the following address information for your letter:
Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones lives in the city of Joplin, Missouri. She lives on the first floor of a rooming house, Unit 4, at 123 5th Street. Her United States postal code is 64802.
Roger Hughes now works in Columbia, Missouri in an office at 230 Jesse Hall. The United States postal code there is 65211.
Read “Kath and Mouse,” by Janet McNaughton.
Responding to the Story
- What does it mean to play “cat and mouse”? Give an example from a personal experience or from a movie, book, or TV show you have seen.
- In what way does Kath play a “cat and mouse” game with Helen?
- What pun has the author used in the title?
- Explain the significance of the character Christine. Why did the author bring her into the story?
- Revisit the definition of narrative conflict. Discuss how the author used the conflict between characters to create tension. Why is conflict an important element of a story? How does conflict create a tense, fast-paced story? Discuss the types of conflict that exist in other stories(novels) you have read recently.
Create a Sequel
What happens to Kath, Helen, and Kevin after the story ends? Continue the story. Be sure that the details and events you relate are consistent with the original story.
Here are a few suggestions to help you write your own short story sequel:
Developing an Idea
- Think about “Kath and Mouse.” What do you think the characters have learned in the story? Try to predict what they will do next.
- Develop a plot idea. Does Kath continue to bully others around her?
- List the characters that you want to include
- Write an outline that describes the plot, setting, point of view, and main conflict. Will you tell the story from Kath’s or Helen’s point of view, or as an outsider looking in on the situation?
- Using your outline as a guide, write your story. Think about an exciting way to start. Grab your reader’s interest right at the start.
- What will the mood or tone of your story be – funny, serious, or realistic?
- Use dialogue between characters to move the plot along and to reveal character
Read your story, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the plot make sense? Is it interesting to the reader?
- Have you remained true to the original story?
- Are the characters’ actions believable?
Oh, and one more thing…
First, … look up the word “eclectic”. If you think you know what it means, identify example from the story of something “eclectic.” Include something eclectic in your sequel.
Second, … look through several quotes from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” Include a direct or indirect reference to at least one quote from “The Art of War.”
Write a review of a feature-length film that depicts some form of school. In your review assess the credibility of the central character’s point of view on school and on learning.