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Contrasting characters

Linked from: Comprehension: Interpreting implied information 120-129

Curriculum code: ACELY1713


Activities

Learning intention

For students to be able to locate evidence in a text with multiple characters that is specific to a particular character.

Explain

that texts often set up contrasts where characters have different perspectives or points of view on the same topic. One character may be positive and optimistic, another quite negative and a third character conciliatory, trying to find a solution that everyone agrees with. Students need to learn how to differentiate the responses so they attribute each piece of evidence or clue to the right person.

Show

There was a ploughboy, Dick, who sometimes came into our field to pluck blackberries from the hedge. When he had eaten all he wanted he would have what he called fun with the colts, throwing stones and sticks at them to make them gallop. We did not much mind him, for we could gallop off; but sometimes a stone would hit and hurt us.

One day he was at this game, and did not know that the master was in the next field; but there he was, watching what was going on; over the hedge he jumped in a snap, and catching Dick by the arm, he gave him such a box on the ear as made him roar with the pain and surprise. As soon as we saw the master we trotted up nearer to see what went on.

'Bad boy!' he said, 'Bad boy! to chase the colts. This is not the first time, nor the second, but it shall be the last. There—take your money and go home; I shall not want you on my farm again.' So we never saw Dick any more. Old Daniel, the man who looked after the horses, was just as gentle as our master; so we were well off.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Read

the text with the students.

Ask

students to work in groups of four and to identify the characters in this text. That is: Dick; the colts; the master; and Old Daniel.

Make

columns and write the name of each character at the top of each column.

Ask

students to sort out all the evidence in the text about each character.

Place

the evidence in the relevant character's column.

Encourage

students to use all the evidence in the text.

Ask

students to cut the evidence into strips and paste it onto a larger sheet. Leave a space under each line of evidence for later additions. The evidence could be placed in a table, as per the example below.

Dick

The colts

The master

Old Daniel

Picks the blackberries

Gallop away from sticks and stones

Sees Dick throwing things at colts

Looks after the horses and is gentle

Throws sticks and stones at the colts for fun

Don't mind much

Jumps hedge, catches Dick and boxes him on the ear

 

Caught by the master and boxed on the ear

Sometimes hit which hurts

Gives Dick pay and sends him off forever

 

Roars with pain and surprise

Trot up to see the master boxing Dick's ear

   

Given money and told to leave

     
       
       

Ask

students to compare answers between their groups and justify their placement of evidence.

Ask

students to think about each character's perspective on the events in the extract.

Ask

students to use the evidence to identify how each of the characters felt, or was likely to feel during the events.

Record

the feelings in a different coloured pen under each line of evidence.

Discuss

the quality of the evidence with students. How sure are they that the characters would feel that way? Could another feeling fit a particular piece of evidence?

 

Give

students the following incorrect inferences (understandings) from the text:

  • Dick was angry with the colts.
  • The colts were terrified of Dick.
  • The master was mean to Dick.

Ask

students to work in pairs to identify how these incorrect inferences might have been made. Why might a reader have incorrectly assumed this?

Ask

students to find and record the evidence to disprove each of them.

Share

students' responses.

 

Extension

 

Ask

students to work in pairs to make accurate inferences (understandings) about: Dick's attitude to the colts; the colts' attitude to Dick; and old Daniel's attitude to Dick.

Find

and record the evidence to prove the statements and justify your answers.

Encourage

students to use a thesaurus to find the most appropriate words.

Ask

students to reflect on the events in the extract and if they think the action taken by 'the master' was justified.

Ask:

How would you react if you saw someone throwing stones at a horse?

Discuss

and share students' responses and provide feedback.