Rollover Information
About the Series Schedule The Archive Learning Resources The American Collection Home Search Shop
Masterpiece Theatre Home The Ponder Heart The Ponder Heart
Teacher's Guide [imagemap with 10 links]

Before Viewing: Questions and Activities

  • Eudora Welty's The Ponder Heart is the rambling, comic monologue of Edna Earle Ponder as she tells us about her Uncle Daniel and his exploits in a tiny Mississippi town in the late 1930s. What stories are told over and over in your family about people living now or characters from the past? (Topics might include the story of your birth, the origin of your name, stories about interesting relatives, hardships your family has endured, or memorable holidays or events.) Make a list of some of these stories. Then sit with a partner or in a small group and tell one of the stories in the same way it has been told to you. What do you think your stories say about your family and what is important to them?

  • The word "heart" is played upon continuously in this story. Before you watch the film, brainstorm all the ways this word can be used. (For instance, The American Heritage Dictionary lists eleven.) Write the results on a large piece of paper. As you watch the film, make a note of both how often "heart" is used, and which of your definitions each use fits.

  • The Ponder Heart explores both the advantages and the difficulties of being a member of a tight-knit family and the citizen of a very small community or town. What are the advantages of being part of a family, school, and/or small town in which everyone knows everything about you? What are the disadvantages? Would you prefer to live in such a small town or community or in a larger community, where you may be more anonymous? Explain your answer.

  • How do you think money affects relationships between people? In the book, Edna Earle reflects, "The worst thing you can give away is money -- I learned that, if Uncle Daniel didn't. You and them were both done for then, somehow; you can't go on after it, and still be you and them. Don't ever give me a million dollars! It'll come between us." Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

  • Imagine that you are a filmmaker who is interested in bringing The Ponder Heart to the screen. Read the first chapter. Then choose one or two scenes and describe how you might adapt them. Consider how the story is told and from whose perspective. What do you think you might lose by not using the monologue form? What might you gain?

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
Story Synopsis | Teacher's Guide | The Forum | Links + Bibliography

Home | About The Series | The American Collection | The Archive
Schedule & Season | Feature Library | eNewsletter | Book Club
Learning Resources | Forum | Search | Shop | Feedback

WGBH Logo PBS logo CPB Logo
ALT Films Logo


Masterpiece is sponsored by: