We will be exploring six short stories before the mid-term. The first week you should read "Roque" by Dagoberto Gilb, "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, and "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The following week we will read "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, "Young Goodman Brown" and The Minister's Black Veil," by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Please read "The Story of an Hour" first as we will not get to the Hawthorne stories until we have finished all of the others. You will receive a Reader that includes all of the stories, except for Roque, which is only posted above. Please bring the Reader to class every day as it also includes a collection of poems and key terms that you will need to be familiar with in order to do well on the mid-term. You will need the Reader during the mid-term. I suggest you annotate the stories to prepare for the exam.
Girl, by Jamaica Kincaid: Link to Audio
Kincaid Bio with in-text citations
Consider Applying: Formalist Criticism and/or Gender Criticism to this text.
Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Consider Applying: New Historicism or Formalist Criticism to this text (see Critical Theories page)
Fiction/Published in The New Yorker
May 10, 2010
Read the story:
Uncle Rock (Click this link for full text)
by Dagoberto Gilb
American food, sausage and eggs and hash-brown papitas fried crunchy on top. He’d be sitting there, eating with his mother, not bothering anybody, and life was good, when a man started changing it all...."
Consider applying Reader Response Criticism to this text.
Questions to ponder:
1. What is Sonny's attitude towards men in the first paragraph? How do you come to understand this?
2. What is the significance of "American" in the first paragraph? At what point do you begin to understand more about the implication of this word in the story?
3. Please identify the fragments in this story.
4. At the engineer's house why does Erick "not want them to think he like their food"?
5. Why does it matter that Roque prefers boxing to baseball?
6. Please identify two symbols that add meaning to this story.
7. What is Sonny's attitude toward Roque at the end of the story. How do you come to understand this?
I highly recommend and frequently teach Dagoberto Gilb's The Flowers.
Here is some interesting background, if you decide to read his novel.
Setting: Watts and Watts Forty Years Later
Fair Housing Act
"Shout," a short story originally published in Woodcuts for Women, by Dagoberto Gilb. The story is currently available in Sudden Fiction Latino, edited by Robert Shapard, James Thomas and Ray Gonzalez, published by W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.
An example of creative non-fiction can be found in the Sandra Cisneros short story, Pilon:
"I don't know how it is with boys. I've never been a boy. But girls somewhere between the ages of, say, eight and puberty, girls forget they have bodies. It's the time she has trouble keeping herself clean, socks always drooping, knees pocked and bloody, hair crooked as a broom. She doesn't look in mirrors. She isn't aware of being watched. Not aware of her body causing men to look at her yet. There isn't the sense of the female body's volatility, its rude weight, the nuisance of dragging it about. There isn't the world to bully you with it, bludgeon you, condemn you to a life sentence of fear. It's the time when you look at a young girl and notice she is at her ugliest, but at the same time, at her happiest. She is a being as close to a spirit as a spirit."
Cisneros, Sandra. "Pison." Sudden Fiction Latino.W.W Norton. New York. 2010.
Short Story: Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. "Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper"
Consider Applying: Gender Criticism (see Critical Theories page)
The Story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin
The Awakening (Novella) by Kate Chopin
A Pair of Silk Stockings, by Kate Chopin
Consider Applying: Gender Criticism and New Historicism to this text