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Contents:
  1. Native Son Book 1 Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
  2. Richard Wright: Mississippi's Native Son lesson plan
  3. Native Son Unit Plan
  4. Classroom Activities

Here's the trick, you will need to determine if the witness is a "hostile" witness used by the other side to prove their point or a "friendly" witness. Then you will create strategic questions for each person. Step 5: Good lawyers never ask questions they don't already know the answers to the answers are for the jury's benefit , so next up, you will answer your own questions. You should be able to extrapolate from the text how you believe each character would answer a defense or prosecuting attorney during the trial, and you must support each response with text evidence.

Now that you have your witness lists and questions ready to go, you need opening and closing arguments. How will you convince a jury of Bigger's guilt or innocence?


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Note: To speed things along, you can divide and conquer within your teams as well so that a few of you are working on each step simultaneously. We're all for a teamwork approach. For the mock trial, each of you will be assigned to one of the following roles: defense team, prosecution team up to three students each , Bigger, witnesses, judge don't let the gavel go to your head , and jury.

If needed, we might throw in a few reporters, a court reporter, or a bailiff to control those unruly citizens.

Native Son Book 1 Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Then we'll let the trial play out beginning with opening arguments. Once Bigger has been sentenced and the gavel has banged its final bang, we'll debrief, so you may want to take a few notes throughout the trial:. All rights reserved. View all Teaching Guides. Subscribe now. Activities: 13 Quiz Questions: In this guide, you'll find mock trials, naturally. Richard Wright, acting seriously—it ain't pretty. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide: Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students.

Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.

Richard Wright: Mississippi's Native Son lesson plan

Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text. Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students. A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles. Want more help teaching Teaching Native Son? Instructions for You Objective: After murdering Mary, Bigger is in deep trouble—like, fighting for his life trouble. This lesson should take about two class periods: one for prep and one for the trial. Let's find out what your students think: Is Bigger Thomas innocent or guilty? What is Jan's explanation for Bigger's innocence?

Is this an adequate explanation? Does it make sense to you? Why or why not? The Daltons are rich white people. What do we learn about their own actions that imply they may not be as benevolent toward black people as they seem?

Native Son Unit Plan

Hint: Think about their business practices. In what ways might society be responsible for what Bigger did? If Bigger was to take the stand, what defense would he give? Do you believe the majority of citizens would believe him? Oh, and for anyone who isn't a crime drama junkie like us, you may want to review these terms with students ahead of time: The prosecuting attorney is the state representative whose job it is to convict Bigger of murder. The defense attorney's job is to see that Bigger gets a fair trial and to prove that Bigger is not guilty through indictment of the culture that made Bigger into a monster.

Hopefully you'll have a fair amount of dissent among the ranks, but if not, try stirring the pot a little with a few more questions: Are you really all convinced that racism had no part in Bigger's choices? Can we blame him for defending himself? Do you really believe that Bigger should be let off the hook for his crimes? What if he hurt someone you know? Check out our themes page for more ideas on the complexity of Bigger's situation. If all else fails you can have students draw straws to even out your teams.

In the kitchen, Peggy the housekeeper cooks him bacon and eggs and while singing the praises of her employers instructs Bigger on how to maintain the furnace. She explains that the last chauffeur went on to finish school thanks to the Daltons. Dalton enters and asks Bigger how far he had gone in school.

When he replies eighth grade, she asks if he has any interest in furthering his education and assures him there is no hurry when he hesitates. Bigger's first chauffeuring duty consists of driving Mary Dalton to an evening lecture at the university. However, almost immediately after they start out, she tells Bigger to go in a different direction. When they arrive, she enters an old unpainted building and shortly returns to the driver's side of the car with a white man whom she introduces as Jan.

Jan extends his hand to a shocked Bigger. The couple, intent on treating Bigger as an equal, refuse to go into the back of the car and tell him to shove over while Jan takes the wheel. To Bigger's great shock and consternation, Jan immediately starts propagandizing his communist philosophy and insists Bigger take them to a restaurant frequented by African-Americans. Bigger can only think of Ernie's Kitchen Shack where the couple insists he eat with them. The three start drinking heavily and Bigger ignores his girlfriend, Bessie.

After dinner, Jan invites Bigger to join the Communist Party and gives him a packet of leaflets. Next, they drop Jan off at the street car stop and Mary, very drunk, sprawls on the front seat next to Bigger. When they arrive back at the house, Mary has passed out altogether and Bigger has to quietly carry her upstairs to her bedroom. The blind Mrs. Dalton walks in as he is placing her on her bed. Terrified, Bigger covers Mary's face with a pillow so she won't call out. However, he accidentally suffocates her and the disgruntled mother leaves. Bigger panics.

Next to Mary's bed is the trunk she intends to use for her early morning trip to Detroit. He stuffs her body into it and carries it to the basement. Still in an extreme state of panic, and sure he will be accused of murder, Bigger throws Mary's body into the furnace and decapitates her when it doesn't fit. He throws the axe into the furnace.

Attempting to keep calm, he decides to tell the police that he left Mary with Jan and decides to take the trunk to the railway station in the morning. Then he returns home where he goes to sleep next to Buddy. Analysis From the beginning, it is clear that Native Son sounds a warning-a wake-up alarm intended not only for the Chicago family sleeping fitfully within the one-bedroom tenement, but to America as a whole.

The desperate conditions which many African-Americans endured in the 's must change for the better, or the structures holding society in place will explode in violence. As it is, there are very limited educational and career opportunities for young alienated African-American males who feel helpless, impotent and enraged. Native Son presents an unsparing portrait of poverty, which is typical of urban "Naturalism," a type of literature that illustrates how human beings i.

In Book One, "Fear," the protagonist Bigger, whose name rhymes with the most offensive racial slur, is expected to turn off the alarm, rise and protect the family from a big black rat which has entered the family home. He is also expected to take a job as a chauffeur so the family can move to a better apartment. Clearly, at age twenty, he is the man, responsible for supporting his family. Bigger violently beats the rat to death and thereby demonstrates the anger he feels. The rat, however, also represents Bigger, who feels just as trapped and unwanted.


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Bigger feels overwhelmed, powerless, and simply doesn't want to grow up. He still plays with his friends and finds escape and release at the movies. His mother, who is simply called "Ma" throughout, has also, in the style of the Ancient Greek dramatic Oracle, just prophesized his death. However, rather than give up his friends, Bigger wants to rob Mr. Blum, a white store owner. He would rather go to jail than take the proffered Dalton job. However, at the movies, Bigger changes his mind.

The first film feature, The Gay Woman features a wealthy blonde-haired woman who takes sexual risks with her communist lover. The film foreshadows much of the novel's plot line. Bigger finds this film version of the white world exciting and comes to see his job as an opportunity, however misguided, to enter that world.

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This also provides the ideal means for him to back out of the robbery which he fears. Indeed, it is fear that forces him to turn on his friend Gus. Bigger is hesitant about entering this white world. He feels ill at ease even sitting inside a white person's home and his lack of poise demonstrates the dire circumstances of his life. At the interview, the hypocrisy of the Daltons, who represent the workings of the white world, is brought to light. The Daltons make their fortunes from renting poor housing to the black population and alleviate their guilt by contributing to African-American charities and by employing a black chauffeur.

On one hand, Mr. If you want to integrate questions you've developed for your curriculum with the questions in this lesson plan, or you simply want to create a unique test or quiz from the questions this lesson plan offers, it's easy to do. Scroll through the sections of the lesson plan that most interest you and cut and paste the exact questions you want to use into your new, personalized Native Son lesson plan.

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