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Teacher's Guide [imagemap with 10 links]

After Viewing: Questions and Activities

  • The novel and film begin with a similar line, "My Uncle Daniel's just like your uncle, if you've got one -- only he has one weakness. He loves happiness [in the novel, "society"] and sometimes he gets carried away." How do you think Uncle Daniel would define "happiness"? How would Edna Earle define it? Bonnie Dee Peacock Ponder? How do these different definitions conflict with each other?

  • What does it mean in this story to be a Ponder? A Peacock? Do you think that in the world of Clay, Mississippi, a Peacock can ever become a true Ponder, as Bonnie Dee tries to do? Explain your answer. Do you think this class structure exists in our society today? If so, how?

  • Describe the relationship between Edna Earle and her Uncle Daniel. How does Bonnie Dee threaten that relationship? Of the three, with whom do you sympathize the most? Revisit the novel and/or film and examine how The Ponder Heart manages to make that character both comic and sympathetic at the same time.

  • Critics have commented that much of Welty's work shows the difficulty of balancing one's sense of self as an individual against the expectations of one's family and community. Is this tension present in the characters in The Ponder Heart? If so, how?

  • Which of the definitions of "heart" that you compiled before the film seems to have been used the most in the film? By this definition, who do you think has the most "heart" in the story? Why? Considering the various uses of both "ponder" and "heart" throughout the film and novel, why do you think Welty chose as her title The Ponder Heart? Draw or describe a symbol for the book cover or film poster that would sum up everything meant by the word "heart" in The Ponder Heart.

Teacher's Guide:
Plot Summary | Before Viewing | Viewing Strategies | After Viewing
Novel into Film | Scene Study | Investigations and Extentions | Resources

A Eudora Welty Timeline | One Writer's Place | Voices of Mississippi
Martha Coolidge, Director | Novel to Film | Who's Who
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