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Subject:     ELA: Archetypes,
                     Child Savior Myth

Ages:       14+

Length:     Snippet: 22 minutes;
                      Lesson: one 45 - 55 minute class period.

Learner Outcomes/Objectives:    Students will be able to recognize and analyze the child savior myth, a recurring element in literature and film. Students will be introduced to the concept of literary archetypes.

Rationale:     Images of children are important in literature and are used to sell products, win elections, and encourage religious devotion. The child as savior, through whom people find truth, the answer to their problems, or salvation is an important feature of many works of fiction; becoming acquainted with this archetype will help students analyze and appreciate works of fiction. An understanding of the use of images of children in advertising and the media will help students make informed decisions. Finally, this lesson can be used to introduce students to the concept of literary archetypes, an important element of most works of fiction.

Description of the Snippet:     "Man on Fire" is an action film in which a former Special Forces operative named Creasy is employed as a bodyguard to protect the young daughter of a wealthy Mexican businessman. Creasy is suffering from remorse for savage deeds committed when he was working in counter-insurgency. As the snippet opens, Creasy is shown drunk, guilt-ridden, and puzzled by a failed attempt to kill himself. Standing in the rain, a clear symbol of purification, he looks up to see the child watching him from the window. Thereafter, Creasy begins tutoring the girl and coaching her efforts to become a better swimmer. He grows increasingly fond of her unrelenting innocence. At the snippet's end, Creasy reaches for the bottle, uncaps it, recaps it, puts it down, and picks up the Bible. He is saved.

Possible Problems:     None. The remainder of the movie is violent and well deserves its R rating. DO NOT ALLOW THE MOVIE TO RUN BEYOND THE SNIPPET, SINCE IT QUICKLY BECOMES VERY VIOLENT.

How to Use This Guide:    
TWM suggests that teachers keep a pre-selected film in their classroom along with any handouts, readings, and other materials that a substitute will need. Be sure to get all of the required permissions from school administrators to allow this snippet to be shown.
Place the DVD and a class set of the student handout, The Child Savior Myth: An Example of a Literary Archetype, in a location where the substitute will be able to find them.

Adapt the lesson to the needs and abilities of your classes. Modify the Instructions to the Substitute to take account of any changes you make. Pay special attention to the following points:
  • TWM has allotted fifteen minutes for students to read the handout. This should be changed, if necessary, based on the reading abilities of the class. Modify instruction #3 as appropriate.

  • If the handout is to be read aloud in class, revise instruction #3 and specify the method of choosing students to read to the class.

Instructions to the Substitute:    

1.  Before the class arrives, cue the film to DVD scene 7, locate the copies of the handout entitled "The Child Savior Myth: An Example of a Literary Archetype" and have them ready to distribute to the class.

2.  Tell the class that today's lesson will be on the child savior myth and literary archetypes.

3.  Give students the handout and have them read it silently. Give the students no more than 15 minutes to read the handout.

4.  Introduce the snippet. The class need only know that in the movie an American named Creasy is employed as a bodyguard to protect the young daughter of a wealthy Mexican businessman from being kidnapped. As the snippet opens, Creasy is suffering from remorse for actions taken while working on counterinsurgency for the Special Forces. Ask the class to look for what role the child plays in the snippet.

5.  Show the snippet beginning at DVD scene 7 and running until Creasy puts down the bottle of liquor and picks up the Bible. The snippet is about 22 minutes. DO NOT ALLOW THE MOVIE TO RUN BEYOND THE SNIPPET, SINCE THE MOVIE QUICKLY BECOMES VERY VIOLENT.

6.   For the remainder of the class period, conduct a discussion concerning the child savior myth. The discussion prompts are:
  • Describe three scenes in the snippet that show that Creasy is beginning to change.
  • Explain what happens to Creasy in terms of how he is beginning to see life.
  • What were the attributes of Pita, the girl Creasy was hired to protect, that helped him to heal?
  • What finally shows us that Creasy has healed?
During the discussion, ask students to support their ideas through direct reference to what occurs in the snippet.

7.  At the end of the class, collect the handouts so that they can be given to the next class.

Revised on September 3, 2009.

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