The characters may be over 100 years old, but the student insights are brand new.
Students in MCHS English teacher Carol Stayton’s AP Literature classes performed “autopsies” on characters from Kate Chopin’s classic The Awakening, which the class is currently studying.
“[The activity] helps us relate to the characters and understand the deeper meaning of the novel,” senior Collin Allen said, who is in Stayton’s second period class.
In groups, students created a physical outline of the character (by tracing one lucky student) and then “examined” the character by providing quotes from the text that revealed insights into the character.
For example, for the character’s head, students found short passages that revealed his or her aspirations or personal philosophies; for the eyes, significant sights that affected the character; and for the hands, the conflicts the character faces.
“This activity helps them to look at the character as a whole while analyzing individual aspects of the character,” Stayton said. “It was interesting to see the different ways in which they pictured the characters physically.”
After completing the activity, groups presented the final project to class.