42 Fall 2015 • The Literary Homeschooler www.TheOldSchoolhouse.com
including The Odyssey, Great Expectations, The Bronze Bow and To Kill a
How does the setting of this story underscore the author’s theme? How is
the setting uniquely suited to the author’s purpose? (In other words, could
this story stress the same theme if the
setting were different?)
While the message of A Bargain for
Frances is not dependent on a particular time and place, The Yearling draws
much of its power from its setting in the
Florida scrub during the late 19th century.
The harsh conditions and constant battle
with privation and hardship that characterized that time and place are the catalysts that force Jody through the changes
that will make him a man.
Does the author use literary devices
such as symbolism, metaphor, imagery,
allusion or juxtaposition to emphasize
the story’s themes? How effective are
Russell Hoban uses rhyme, rhythm and
dramatic irony to emphasize Frances’s
gullibility in A Bargain for Frances, while
Marjorie Rawlings creates one of American literature’s greatest symbols in The
Yearling. Flag, the young fawn that Jody
takes to his heart, dramatically symbolizes youth and innocence. As Jody puts
Flag away, forsaking his own childhood
forever, readers feel the pain that loss of
innocence always brings.
As you can see, the questions listed
here are as appropriate for the bedtime
story as for the Nobel Prize-winner.
Teach your student to ask them of the
bedtime story, and later on he will be able
to ask them of the classics himself. The
best part is, you can introduce them with
the bedtime story in a single lesson! Even
if you are pressed for time, there’s no
need to send your kids away to school.
While we’re on the subject, though,
take another look at the list above. Can
you imagine any of those questions leading naturally into a discussions of worldview assumptions, life-changing decisions, or questions of identity, purpose
If so, do you really want a stranger
helping your student answer them?
Wouldn’t you rather teach him how to
fish yourself? Once he learns, he’ll never
go hungry again—even if you only taught
him one lesson!
Adam Andrews is the Director of the Center for Literary Education and a homeschooling father of six. Adam earned his
B.A. from Hillsdale College and is a Ph.D.
candidate at the University of Washington.
He and his wife Missy are the authors of
Teaching the Classics, the popular reading
and literature curriculum. They teach their
children at home in Rice, Washington. For
more information, visit www.centerforlit
Once he learns, he’ll never go hungry again –
even if you only taught him one lesson!