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Teacher's Guide [imagemap with 8 links]

From Memoir to Film

  1. A great deal of the drama in this memoir takes place internally in Jill's mind. How do the filmmakers use what they call "narrative invention" to make her emotional and intellectual development cinematic? How would you do this with your own life story? Take an event in your life that was important to you but in which your feelings were primarily unspoken. Try to write a dialogue that expresses some of the internal emotion while staying true to your character.

  2. Watch the first ten minutes and the last three minutes of the film again. How do they echo each other? What themes does the first scene set up that are carried throughout the film? How does the final scene return to those themes? Do you think this was an effective way to begin and end this story? Compare them with the first chapter and the last four pages of the memoir. Which of each pair -- the openings and the closings -- do you feel is stronger? Why?

  3. Ker Conway writes about her memoir in Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, edited by William Zinsser:

    The archetypal life plot for women in Western society is the bourgeois romance....I was looking for a way to narrate a life story of a woman that would pay due respect to her attachments to men and to family but would be about something else entirely. I wanted to convey my sense of my education, of my liberation through access to education....

    Does the memoir do this? Does the film? What scenes in the film support your argument?

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