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Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions


  1. The list of O'Neill's plays includes some important events in the United States during O'Neill's lifetime.

  2. In preparing their letters, students may want to view photographs of O'Neill and several members of his family.

  3. You may want to begin this activity by asking students if they noticed the many times the words "tragic" and "tragedy" appeared in the film. How would they define "tragic" -- is it the same as "sad" or "unfortunate"? Does "tragedy" have a special meaning in the context of the theater?

    At the end of the activity, you might also ask students: If O'Neill's life were a play, would it be a tragedy? Why or why not?


  1. For the first scene, you might begin with Edmund's line, "God, Papa, ever since I went to sea..." and end with his father's statement, "And it's a poor way to convince you of the value of a dollar." For the second scene, you might begin with Jamie's line, "I've known about Mama so much longer than you" and end with Jamie's line, "That last drink -- the old K.O." Volunteers should practice the scenes on their own to prepare for the reading. Also, before performing their scene, each group should explain the characters and context of the scene to the class.

  2. Before reading its chosen scene to the class, each group should explain the characters and context of the scene. Copies of plays by these playwrights should be available in your local library. More information on the prizes can be found at the Pulitzer Prizes Web site.

  3. If a play is being performed in your community, you might want to organize a field trip to watch it. Students could read the play beforehand and then discuss it as a group afterwards.


  1. At the conclusion of this activity, you might ask students what sorts of events, relationships, or characters might generate as much controversy today as O'Neill's play did in 1924.

  2. To help students start thinking about these issues, you might watch a portion of a television program such as the "Oprah Winfrey Show" or "Dr. Phil" as a class and use it as the springboard for a class discussion of how such shows may (or may not) benefit their audience and participants.

  3. A great deal of information on the topic is available online from various government sources. Examples include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's statistics on alcohol use, the National Institutes of Health's basic facts about alcoholism, information from the N.I.H. on whether family members of alcoholics are at special risk of developing alcoholism themselves, a Q and A on alcohol addiction from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics aimed at children, a government Web site created to provide young teens with information on alcohol, and N.I.H. links to a number of other Web sites containing relevant information.

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