In our English 103 reading class this semester, we started with the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. Our reading led to other kinds of readings (documentaries, movies, and articles) that focused on bringing marginalized voices to the center.
Danticat gave us words and the students used them to look into society's structure and they examined the word "patriarchy." At the completion of the novel the students wrote extensions to the novel and some students rewrote the ending. Examples are below.
As the facilitator of the learning process in these two reading classes the students email me their stories and assessments and I upload them to the blogs. I do the final editing with the help of the students. They read for errors too. They are asked to enter the blog and read the various stories. I also ask them about the design and they are encouraged to contribute suggestions and comments.
Seeing myself as facilitator and/or participant observer has given me different lens to view the learning process. Blogs give students another reason for reading and sharing and it also opens them up to a larger audience and the idea of publishing. I wonder what it does for self esteem, confidence, independence, building classroom community, inspiring an interest in knowing, etc? I will have to ask the students.
Extensions to Breath, Eyes, Memory by Danticat
October 9, 2011
October 12, 2011
Mon. & Wed. 1 pm
Breath, Eyes, Memory Extension
And then Sophie woke up. Dripping with sweat and tears pouring out of her eyes, she frantically looked around the room to examine where she was. A wave of relief crashed down on her when she looked to her right to find Joseph sleeping peacefully next to her. She sleepily got turned her body to sit up and set her feet on the cold wood floor. Sophie grabbed the phone from her nightstand and quickly dialed her mother’s number.
“Hello?” A deep, half-asleep voice mumbled into the phone. “Where is my mother?” Sophie was quick with her words. Sounding confused, Marc told her that her mother was sleeping still for the first time he'd seen. Sophie demanded to speak to her anyway. “Sophie! I got rid of the baby!” Martine excitedly sang into the phone. “What? How?” “I had him aborted, Sophie,” she was the happiest sounding that Sophie had ever heard. “And now, the voices, Sophie, they’re gone. I can sleep peacefully now, for the first time in almost thirty years.”
Sophie hurried down the sidewalk, dodging through the business of New York City. She looked down at her watch and picked up her speed, attempting to run in her new wedges. She had sat in the store the day before for an hour contemplating buying these foreign objects, but had finally decided to get them for this occasion. Relieved that she had finally reached her destination as her feet began to ache, she pushed the glass door and rushed inside.
“Mom! You’re finally here! What do you think about this one? I think this is the one!” Brigitte glowed in the elegant white dress. Sophie was speechless as her eyes began to fill with tears and she couldn’t help but smile. “Oh, Brigitte. It’s beautiful. Where is you’re grandma? Has she arrived yet? She would love this.” “I’m over here, Sophie. We’ve been waiting on you, as usual,” Martine laughed as she sat on the big love seat behind Brigitte. “Isn’t she lovely?” Sophie smiled and sat down next to her mother. They gazed up at Brigitte as she twirled and giggled, watching herself in the three-way mirror.
They left the bridal store and walked through the big crowds of New York City. Sophie struggled to walk in her wedges. She watched her feet as she walked. Martine pulled her arm as they abruptly came to a stop. She looked up to see Tante Atie. She froze. Unsure if this was real, no one said a word, but just looked. Finally, Brigitte looked at them and said, “I had to. My wedding will be a big day for me, and for all of us. I only thought it was necessary to bring her here.” Still not sure if what she was looking at was true, Sophie ran forward to hug a much older looking Tante Atie.
Martine had the family over for dinner that night. Sophie was still so surprised. When they walked in, she screamed, “everyone, look who’s come to visit for the wedding!” “Yes we all know,” Joseph chuckled as he got up to hug them. “Why was I the only one who was not aware of this?” Sophie asked. “We wanted to surprise you,” he said back. They all sat at the table. “Where is my fiancé?” Brigitte asked as Marc brought out a big bowl of pasta. “Oh yes, he said he was going to be running late and that he sends his apologies. He said to go ahead and start eating without him,” he sat and grabbed a piece of bread.
After dinner, everyone sat around the fireplace as Tante Atie confessed that she was finally moving to America. “Ever since my mother died, I have no purpose to not be here,” she told them all. The front door opened and they all looked over to see Brigitte’s fiancé. “Jason! Where have you been? You are two hours late!” Brigitte angrily looked at her soon-to-be-husband. “I know, I know. I’m so sorry,” he said with his hands behind his back. Brigitte looked at him curiously. He grinned and pulled his hands forward, holding a bouquet of yellow daisies. She jumped up to kiss him, forgetting at all that she was angry.
After hours of talking and discussing the details of the wedding, everyone went to head home. Brigitte was sitting in the passenger seat, staring in adoration at Jason. Feeling her eyes burn into him, he glanced over at her. He laughed and told her he loved her. When he looked back at the road, it was too late. The headlights of an SUV were coming directly at them, going 80 miles per hour. It crashed into them and the car flipped and landed on its side. Jason woke up in the hospital. “Where’s Brigitte?” he screamed at the nurse. “I am so very sorry,” she looked at him with pitiful eyes.
Sophie held Jason’s hand as he looked down at his shiny, black shoes during the funeral. When it was time to lower her casket into the ground, Sophie and Tante Atie threw handfuls of dirt onto it. With tears in his eyes, Jason places the little, yellow daisies onto the top of the casket. “Goodbye, my beautiful Brigitte. I’m sorry. I will love you forever.”