The Modern American Dream: Modern Drama
Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance’s Affect on Modern & Contemporary Culture
The Harlem Renaissance (1920s) Read page 910-911 carefully, then answer the following questions.
1. (3) Describe the characteristics of the Harlem Renaissance. Consider what inspired the movement and who
was involved as you respond.
2. (3) Artists during the Harlem Renaissance shared the urgent need to document the ________________ of
their people; what kinds of incidents would you expect these artists to have documented. List a few and
describe why they would need to be documented.
3. (3) Why was it important for the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance to live and work together in
one community? How is this similar/different to your own experiences working in groups?
4. (2) What are some major thematic ideas you can expect to see in Harlem Renaissance and Harlem
Renaissance inspired works? (this isn’t straight up in the reading, you must use your own brain to come up
with this response).
Imagery: The use of language to evoke a
“Harlem: A Dream Deferred” picture or a concrete sensation of a
By Langston Hughes person, a thing, a place, or a experience.
What happens to a dream deferred? Sight:
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over— Touch:
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Smell
Or does it explode?
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DREAMS AND DREAMS DEFERRED
• (2) What is the mood of the poem? How does the poet feel about dreams?
• (2) What is the tone of the poem? If you were to hear the poet read it, what would be the sound of his voice?
• (3) What simile does the poet use? What does it mean? How might it relate to what is likely to occur in the play A Raisin
in the Sun?
• (2)How does the sum total of all the imagery add up to answering the question put forth by the speaker in line one, “
What happens to a dream deferred?
• (1)What is the unspoken message the speaker is telling the reader about going after their own dreams?
• (2) Do you agree with Hughes? Give examples from personal experiences, books, and television or film plots about what
happens when dreams are lost.
“Juicy” By Notorious B.I.G.
It was all a dream
I used to read Word Up magazine
Salt ‘n Peppa and Heavy D up in the limousine
Hangin’ pictures on my wall
Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl…
No honies play me close like butter played toast
From the Mississipi down to the east coast…Sold out seats to hear bigie Smalls speak
Livin life without fear
Puttin’ 5 karats in my baby girl’s ears
Lunches, brunches, interviews by the pool
Considered a fool ‘cause I dropped out of high school
Stereotypes of a black male misunderstood…
We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us
No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us
Birthdays was the worst days
Now we sip champagne when we thirsty
Uh, D*** right I like the life I live
Cause I went from negative to positive
And its all good…
1. (1) Poetic Theme: Reach for Your Dreams How do both sets of verses reflect this
2. (1) Line 16 claims that birthdays were the worst days. Why do you think the poet felt
3. (1) What images from the verse does the poet use to demonstrate the poverty he
endured prior to achieving Hip-Hop fame?
4. (1) What images from the verse doe the poet use to demonstrate the rewards of wealth
and Hip-Hop fame in the reader’s mind?
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Who: The Youngers—an African-American family
Where: South Side of Chicago
Basic Plot: The Youngers are about to receive an insurance check for $10,000. This money comes from the deceased Mr.
Younger’s life insurance policy. Each of the adult members of the family has an idea as to what he or she would like to do
with this money. The Youngers clash over their competing dreams. Mama puts a down payment on a house for the whole
family in an entirely white neighborhood. When the Youngers’ future neighbors find out that the Youngers are moving in,
they send Mr. Lindner, from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, to offer the Youngers money in return for
staying away. The play is about their struggles in living and acting like a family while trying to realize their dreams.
Study guide A Raisin in the Sun
Big Picture Questions 2 POINTS EACH
Walter Lee and Ruth. What are their expectations of each other?
• Walter Lee and Beneatha. Are they sensitive to each other’s needs, or have they become locked into the “sibling rivalry”
• Walter Lee and Lena. Is she unconsciously emasculating him? Is he behaving more like a son than a husband and
father? What cultural traditions affect their relationship?
• Lena and Ruth. Is Lena trying to undermine Ruth’s maternal authority by commenting on what Travis eats, how he
dresses, and her excusing his lapses as “he’s just a little boy” ?
• Beneatha and Asagai. What cultural differences cause tension in their relationship? How does he prove he really cares
STEREOTYPING AND PREJUDICE
• (2) What is a stereotype? Give an example.
• (3) Using any stereotype you have been subjected to, explain the basis for this stereotype. How does this make you
feel? How might this stereotype interfere with your ability to be successful or happy?
THE CONFLICT BETWEEN EXPECTATIONS
• (5) What problems occur if your expectations and others’ expectations of you differ? Give a specific example from
experience or the experience of someone you know. A scene related to this theme is the confrontation between
Walter Lee, Ruth, and Lena over the spending of the insurance check.
THE STRENGTH OF FAMILY
• (5) Write about or discuss what family means to you. You might include: different types of families, what type of family
you are a part of, why your family is important to you, positive or negative aspects to being a member of a family, what
you have learned by being a part of your family, loyalty or lack of loyalty within your family.
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•(1) What do most plants represent?
• (1) How is the introduction of the plant early in the play foreshadowing?
• (1) What is money a symbol of to Walter Lee? (107)
• (2) How does Hansberry show the relative wealth of the characters in the play? What is this wealth symbolic of?
• (6) What does money represent to Beneatha, Ruth, Travis, George Murchison, and Asagai? Why are their attitudes
about money so different?
(4) George Murchison’s white shoes (115-116) and Asagai’s Nigerian robes (91-92; 187-188).
• Why are the symbols of these two men’s lives are so different? What does the symbol tell us about the man, his dreams,
and his values?
Build a Character: With your group, you are to…
1. Review the study guide with your group—particularly the “Big Idea Questions” and the questions associated with your
2. Discuss all possibly symbols you could use to adequately present the character you have. Think of the symbols in the text and
those outside the box
3. Build the character on the paper provided. Fill up the whole page with the character. You must include:
direct characterization/indirect characterization
whether the character is flat or round
whether the character is dynamic or static
symbols you could associate with them
you must include at least one quote FROM the character and one ABOUT the character that represents that character as a
whole. (total 2 quotes)—review the study guide
Be prepared to present your character. Make sure that you spend time with the character. You really need to be elaborate and
creative to receive points for the assignment.
Participation grade: 20 points (points deducted each time you are off task)
Assignment grade: 30 points
Creativity 1 2 3 4 5
Style 1 2 3 4 5
Accuracy 1 2 3 4 5
Symbols 1 2 3 4 5
Quotes 1 2 3 4 5
Appeal 1 2 3 4 5
1= you barely spent any time with it; things were sloppy and slapped together; handwriting is hard to read; symbols/quotes don’t seem to apply or cannot be
5=WOW! You couldn’t have done better with this if you were a graduate student! I’m impressed by the forethought, time, effort, critical thinking and
explanation. The character is absolutely perfect.
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“Brownies” by ZZ Packer 80 point assignment
The well-traveled ZZ Packer was born in Chicago and raised in Atlanta and Louisville.
She attended Yale University and the Writing Seminar at Johns Hopkins University, The Writers'
Workshop at Iowa University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. The title story of her
recently published short-story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was included in The New
Yorker's Debut Fiction issue in 2000, and her work has also appeared in Seventeen, Harper's, The
Best American Short Stories (2000), Ploughshares and has been anthologized in 25 and Under:
Fiction. ZZ Packer lives in San Francisco, and she is diligently at work on a novel.
The eight stories in Drinking Coffee Elsewhere range from the antics of a troop of black Girl
Scouts who encounter some [atypical]white Girl Scouts ["Brownies"] to a loser father taking his
bright son to the Million Man March to sell exotic birds ["The Ant of the Self"] to the title story's
examination of the protagonist Dina's ability and tendency to pretend in various difficult
situations she encounters. In Packer's stories one meets an array of characters, from African
American church ladies, white intellectuals, to inner-city dwellers, buppies and an odd group of
expatriated internationals stuck in Japan, all rendered deftly with humor and poignancy.
Setting the Scene:
We have been talking about the Harlem Renaissance and how it offered American’s an opportunity
and a language to talk about Racism. While ZZ Packer is NOT a Harlem Renaissance writer, her
short story “Brownies” follows the literary tradition set by the Harlem Renaissance by addressing
the continuing problems of Racism in a number of different scenarios including reverse Racism
proving that while we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go before any type of
egalitarian society is produced2.
1. Read the short story and ANNOTATE as you read (20 points for annotating based on quality
of the annotations and connections made between the text, your life, the media, history and
especially the Harlem Renaissance.) Consider the underlined sections as you annotate. What
you are NOT doing is highlighting/underlining the whole thing. Most of the underlining
has been done for you—you make comments and take notes to make meaning of the story as
2. Answer the questions that follow either AS you read or AFTER you read. Answer fully and
completely. (40 pts)
3. 1-2 paragraph response to the FINAL question. Make sure you use examples from LIFE and
from the text(s) we have been reading. (20 points)
1 Background borrowed from http://www.identitytheory.com/interviews/birnbaum103.html interview with ZZ Packer
2 Please note that because this short story is about racism, you will run into some unsavory language such. Use your discretion as you
read and remember to be mature. I have censored some of the language, but not all of it. As honors students I expect you to be mature
enough to respond to language usage in a mature way and to understand the purpose behind the language usage.
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Make sure that you work very hard during class because outside class you should be WORKING ON
YOUR OUTSIDE READING PROJECT! REMEMBER YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR BOOK ACQUIRED BY
NEXT WEEK. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT PUT THIS OFF TO THE LAST MINUTE!!!!!!!
**READING IN APPENDIX**
1. Analyze the title. Consider the obvious, then dig deeper. (5 points based on quality and depth of the response.
2. Why does the word “Caucasian” elicit a strong response from the girls? (2 points) What word is juxtaposed to
elicit a different type of reaction (1 point)? What is the purpose of this juxtaposition (3 points)?
3. Discuss at least 3 examples of racism/discrimination in the short story? (3 points per example)
4. Why do the words “my father the veteran” haunt Laurel? (consider the end and the definition as you answer
this) (5 points)
FINAL PARAGRAPH RESPONSE (WRITE ON A SEPARATE SHEET AND ATTACH)
Is an egalitarian society an attainable human goal? Explain using examples from your own experiences and the
Color Psychology and Marketing
Black Authority & power; stability & strength; intelligence (doctorate in black robe; black horn rimmed glasses etc.); thinning;
somber; sometimes evil; grief; easily overwhelming with too much
White Purity; cleanliness; safety of bright light; projects absence of color; projects neutrality; eastern world—mourning; creativity;
compression of color
Gray Practical; timeless; middle ground; solid; too much leads to feeling nothing, but a bit helps add a rock solid feeling; some
shades equal old age, death, taxes, depression or lost sense of direction
Silver Helping hand, strong character
Red Draws attention; draws the eye; color of energy; associated with movement and excitement; causes the heart to beat faster;
not good to over use, but used in the right places can help; symbolizes life, love, and giving
Pink True color of love; most calming of all colors; drains energy and calms aggression; symbolizes love and gentle feelings to
Blue Causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming (some shades); too much can send a cold, uncaring message; calm
and restful; symbolizes steadfastness, dependability, wisdom and loyalty; elicits productivity by encouraging focus; sports
are enhanced in a blue surrounding
Green Color of growth, nature and money; calming color that is pleasing to the senses; dark green associated with conservatism,
masculinity and wealth; used in hospitals to promote calm; associated with envy, good luck, generosity and fertility;
traditional color of peace, harmony, comfortable nurturing, support and well paced energy.
Yellow Cheerful; associated with laughter, happiness and good times; promotes optimistic b/c the brain actually releases more
serotonin when around the color; when intense it has been shown to make babies cry more and tempers flare; has the power
to bring out creative thoughts (yellow legal pads!!!!) but can be overpowering; some shades associated with cowardice;
golden shades promise better times
Orange Flamboyant; tied to fun times, happiness and energy as well as warmth; associated with ambition; nothing calming; new
Purple Royalty; associated with wealth, prosperity, rich sophistication; stimulates the brain used in problem solving; overuse equals
ostentation and artificiality; used carefully can lend an air of mystery, wisdom, and respect.
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Brown reliability, stability, and friendship; color of earth; natural and organic; India it is the color of mourning
Basics on How to Use Color Together
USE EXPLANATION EFFECT
Monochromatic Color Scheme single color in varying shades clean and interesting; soothing and
pleasing to the eye especially in the blue or
Complimentary Color Scheme selecting colors directly opposite from one puts a warm color with a cool color and is
another on the color wheel (such as pink pleasing to the eye.
and lime green).
Triple Color Scheme uses three colors equally spaced from each allows for a harmonious color scheme
Using the psychology of color handout, design a book cover for “Brownies” that accurately represents the story’s plot,
theme, and characters. Design the cover, color the cover, and then on the back, explain the cover in detail (at least 1
paragraph) using language of Title (legible, grammar) 1 2 3 4 5
literature and language arts AS Author’s name (legible, grammar)
WELL AS language of Unique presentation 1 2 3 4 5
psychology. Make sure you use Creative layout 1 2 3 4 5
specifics from the story and your Neatness 1 2 3 4 5
own ideas. This quiz is worth 35 Evidence of time and thought 1 2 3 4 5
Critical thinking and explanation in paragraph form 2 4 6 8 10
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points and will be graded on the follo
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