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Published by: d-fbuser-93565745 on Aug 11, 2011
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This is the haunting first chapter of Kingston's The Woman Warrior, and it
certainly leaves us wanting to read more, so it's not a bad idea to suggest to
students that they might want to follow up by reading Kingston's book. It
might also be useful to get students to think about their own family stories.
Have they ever wondered about family members who are not talked about or
talked about in such a way that either they or their stories seem unwelcome
in the conversation?


Prompts for Discussion and Writing

1. What does the narrator mean in the last paragraph when she declares “I
alone devote pages of paper to her, though not origamied into houses
and clothes.”

2. Why do you think the narrator’s mother told her this story?

3. If this story were told from the perspective of the villagers responsible for
the aunt’s death, how would it be told and how would the
emphasis change?

Mark Twain, “Advice to Youth”

Like all humorous writing that pokes fun through exaggeration, picking up
the tone is the key for students. Advice of this nature hasn't changed much
since Twain wrote this piece, and students can probably call up lots of
equivalents from their own experience. Having them try to match Twain's
cautions with some of their own could be very entertaining and illuminating.

Prompts for Discussion and Writing

1. Understanding the tone of this story is crucial to its effectiveness. What
is the tone and what words and phrases in the text indicate that?

2. Twain’s essay was written over a hundred years ago. If you were writing
a tongue-in-cheek “Advice to Youth” today, what issues would you
address? How would you satirize them?


Case Studies in Composition:
Thinking about Interpretation and Biography

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