Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                                  




    Subject:     Literature/Poetry and Literary Devices: Allusion

    Ages:     13 - 15

    Length and Location:       Snippet: ** Lesson: **

    Learner Outcomes/Objectives:     Students will have striking mental images of and understand the complex cooperative nature of ant behaviors.

    Rationale:     It is important for students to understand the complexity and cooperative behaviors that can develop in the insect world.

    Description of the Snippet:     "The Outsiders", directed by Francis Ford Coppola and released in 1983, is an adaptation from S.E. Hinton's novel about class war among teenagers in the 1950s when lines between "soc" and "greaser" were drawn in indelible ink. The film remains true to the book; both rely on an important allusion to Robert Frost's poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay. Scene 14 begins with a cross above a church on a chilly morning as the sun begins to rise. Two "greaser" boys, hiding out from the consequences of having killed a "soc" leave an abandoned church to see the sunrise. The story's narrator, Ponyboy, recites the poem after Johnny describes the beauty of the sunrise and comments that it is too bad that this beauty cannot "stay like that all the time."

    Benefits:     This snippet fully illustrates the artistic use of literary allusion to clarify theme. Students reading the book or watching the entire film can be shown how to focus more sharply on idea by analyzing "Nothing Gold Can Stay" and comparing their ideas with those of Johnny in the echoing of the poem at the film's end.

    Students studying poetry, not necessarily the novel, will benefit from hearing a fine reading of the poem by a teenager in a context that takes the poem off the page and shows its application to experience.

Length and Locationt: In scene 32, at the film's end, Johnny has died and Ponyboy reads a letter in which Johnny writes that his death is worth having saved the children from the fire. His visage comes onto the screen and he recalls the moment the two boys shared looking at the sunrise. Johnny's comments make clear his understanding of the poem and its relationship to the film's theme.

Possible Problems with this Snippet: None.

    Using the Snippet in Class:     After the novel has been read, or in the case of a poetry lesson standing alone, show both scenes 14 and 32. Distribute a copy of the poem. Have the student circle words that create tone; the feeling established by Frost is made clear in the setting and voice of the film's narrator but students need to see how diction provides this feeling on a page. Tone words, creating a somber and melancholy mood, can include: hardest, only, subsides, sank, grief, down, nothing. These words establish feeling that is evident when they are taken out of context and vividly establish the poem's feeling in context.

    Next, have the students pay further attention to diction; word choice will lead to meaning as well as establish tone. What meaning is implied in "green" and to whom is the poet referring in the use of "Her." Green can mean not only a color but youth and growth. "Her" is a common pronoun for nature. Students may want to discuss why nature has been feminized.

    Have them note the use of Biblical allusion in the term Eden. Point out that in Hebrew, the word Eden means delight. Not only is Frost referring to the "Garden of Eden," he is making a point about delight reducing to grief as time passes.

    Finally, have students pay close attention to the use of rhyme, rhythm, repetition, alliteration and assertion. Frost's assertion in the last line, which serves as the poem's title, makes the theme abundantly clear. The use aesthetic poetic devices in arriving at this assertion are what make the poem forceful.

    "Nothing Gold Can Stay" is easily understood, and, coupled with its beauty, serves as an excellent choice for memorization and recitation.

    Students can be asked to write a number of essays focused on the Snippet.

    • Illustrate how allusion to "Nothing Gold Can Stay" serves to clarify theme in S. I. Hinton's novel (or in the film.)
    • Write a description of the scene in which the poem is recited; explain context and purpose in its use.
    • Write a personal narrative in which you show the validity of the poem's idea through experience of your own, such as the aging of a puppy or the changes that come in friendships with the passage of time.
    • Write a formal essay in which you explore the inevitable loss of innocence as time passes.

    Teachers may want to use this Snippet as an introduction to Frost's poetry. Be sure to consider "Fire and Ice," "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "The Road Less Traveled" and some of his brilliant narrative pieces in which he reveals himself to be a master at dialogue: "Two Look at Two," "Home Burial" and "Out, Out."

    The lesson is well ended by playing another Snippet: Robert Frost reading his poetry at the inauguration of president John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1961.


What about using the whole movie? A Learning Guide is available for teachers who want to use the entire film as an adjunct to reading the novel. Without the book, there is no reason to show the film; the snippet's value lies in helping students who have already read the book to understand the value of literary allusion in its ability to clarify theme.

This film is available from Amazon.com.

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    Bibliography: In addition to websites which may be linked in the Guide and selected film reviews listed on the Movie Review Query Engine, the following resources were consulted in the preparation of this Learning Guide:
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