An eleven-page, text-based, fill-in-the-blank handout of "Like a Winding Sheet," the classic short story by the African-American writer Ann Petry.
The theme of the story, published in 1945, is that the miasma of white racism can drive even the strongest black to the breaking point, an idea still relevant in American society today, a segment of which often forgets that blacklivesmatter.
In my handout your class will explore in depth the structure of “Like a Winding Sheet”: the character development of the protagonist and his antagonists; the inciting moment or the major problem of the story; its use of foreshadowing and dramatic irony; its climax; and its denouement or final resolution where recognition and reversal (or surprise ending) occur.
The symbolism of the names of the three named characters in the story will be revealed (for the first time, I believe).
By studying this structural pattern in “Like a Winding Sheet,” your students should be able to apply it to their study of other short stories.
This student handout is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity, especially small-group work.
An answer key is provided as well as four pages of supplementary notes on the cultural, historical, and literary background of the story.
Some of this information you may choose to incorporate into your students' discussion of "Like a Winding Sheet."
Prepared by Dr. William L. Tarvin, who has published many scholarly articles on literature.