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Lesson 2 - Truman Capote: Other Voices, Other Rooms
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Background

Activity One

  1. Copy and pass out the following two paragraphs:

    If I write the following statement: My best friend is wacky, how much do you really know about my friend? My concept of wacky, for all you know, might be someone who doesn't alphabetize the canned goods in their pantry. On the other hand, if I write the following description, you might have a better idea of my concept of wacky.

    My best friend is absolutely, without a doubt, the wackiest person I know. She has driven into the McDonalds drive-thru and placed her order into the trashcan instead of the speaker. Another time she discovered that she had washed a loaf of bread and a bottle of Windex with her load of dark clothes. (Actually it was a load of multi colored clothes because she never sorts her laundry.) She has mistakenly thrown her cell phone, diamond earrings, various pieces of her grandmother's silver, and a bag of newly purchased light bulbs into the trash compactor. I could go on and on, but with the examples that I've given you, wouldn't you agree that she is totally wacked?
     
  2. Discuss how the statement, "My best friend is wacky," tells you my friend is wacky. The second paragraph shows you how my friend is wacky.
  3. Divide the class into small groups.
  4. Tell students to think of a feeling (i.e. sad, happy, depressed.).
  5. Take a few moments to write a description of someone who is feeling the emotion you have chosen. For example: If you have chosen the word sad, don't use the word sad; instead describe how you think a sad person would act and appear.
  6. Take turns reading the descriptions to the members in the group and have them guess the emotion you wrote about.

Activity Two

  1. Divide the class into small groups and send them to the following websites to learn about Truman Capote:
     
  2. Have groups gather five pieces of factual information and generate a list of five words that they feel describe Truman Capote.
  3. Share the results with the class.
  4. Save the list of words that describe Capote.

 

Activities

Activity One

A Christmas Memory

"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make."
-Truman Capote.

  1. Obtain a copy of Truman Capote's short story A Christmas Memory from your school or local library.
  2. This is a wonderful book to read aloud. The pleasure that Capote found in creating an inner music with his words is very apparent in this story.
  3. A Christmas Memory is autobiographical in nature. When Capote was ten years old he moved to a rural town in Alabama to live with his distant, elderly relatives.
    • What is the point of view of the story?
    • Describe Buddy, the main character' s physical characteristics. (Some students may wish to draw Buddy.)
    • What do you learn about Buddy?
    • What do you think Buddy wants? (Short and long term)
    • What conflicts does Buddy face? (Internal and external)
  4. Discuss the story as a class (setting, theme, plot, conflict, complication, suspense, climax, and outcome).
  5. Generate a list of words that describe the character Buddy.
  6. Ask students to select one of the words and write a paragraph that shows, not tells, why that word describes Buddy.
  7. Write a book review of A Christmas Memory for your local newspaper.

 

Activity Two

Write a short story based on one of Truman Capote's childhood experiences.

  1. Read the following account of Capote's childhood experience to the class:
  2. Truman Capote was childhood friends with Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. As the story goes, one day a young Truman got caught in the middle of a "game" called hot grease in the kitchen. The game consisted of older boys cordoning off an area of the playground, and making all of the other boys stay clear. One day Truman, in defiance, entered the area. The older boys pounced on Truman and held him on the ground. They wouldn't let Truman get up, that is until Harper Lee arrived on the scene. Harper walked into the middle of the scene pushing the older boys out of her way. Daring the older boys to stop her she walked Truman to safety. The boys, knowing Harper's love for a good fight, let the two of them pass.

  3. Create a short story based on this incident.
  4. Use the writing process (pre-writing, writing, revising, editing, and publishing).
  5. Allow students time to peer conference.
  6. Share students' stories with the class.

 

Assessment

Activity One

Students will be evaluated on class participation and the quality of their paragraph and book review.

Activity Two

Students will be evaluated on class participation, and the quality of their short story.

Extensions

Have students select a family event, and write a short story about the occurrence. Ask other family members to write about the same incident. Compile the stories and share them together.



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