There is something about the American West, horses galloping in the distance. Can you picture it? Cormac McCarthy wrote the complex and brilliant novel, All the Pretty Horses. For this lesson, students will read and view supporting clips on the story and its ideas and learn the necessary elements to write persuasively on a theme.
Students will show mastery of the standards at the end of the lesson through a SIFT Analysis, Socratic discussion, short paragraph responses, and a written timed essay scored on an AP-style rubric. This lesson encourages students to write with greater profundity when analyzing an author’s POV regarding argument, narrative and other literary choices.
The central texts are the poem, “The Journey” by Mary Oliver and selected passages from Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. The TED TALKS Cowboy Ethics in the Classroom -- The Great Experiment: Ann Moore at TEDxDenver Teachers” and “Lessons from Listening to Horses” by Lucinda Vette” are linked in the resource. Links to different audio selections and videos showing the themes of cowboys, horses, and justice and injustice are available.
There is a short paragraph writing opportunity about how one of six assigned passages from the novel can answer the question of a character’s search for justice and injustice. These can be used in a jigsaw assignment to help all students in the class. There is a lesson on Hemingway’s Code of Hero that is applied to the characters in All the Pretty Horses. There are lessons on Cowboys in Compton, California and on why Matt Damon and Billy Bob Thornton much preferred the original cut and soundtrack of the film before the studio put the “Hollywood” treatment on what could have been a classic epic film. All the lessons act as an explication to build context for the thematic prompt on the 2011 AP English Literature and Composition exam. There are two samples essays written on justice and applied to All the Pretty Horses. The commentary for these original essay is written by a teacher who scores for the AP English exam.
These six lessons fit any Honors Literature class, Pre-AP, American Literature, AP English Language or Literature class to prepare students for AP English Language exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American Literature Course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities.
There are sources for teaching the Socratic Seminar, as the lessons act as explication for the argument. The packet includes complete lessons, Common Core standards, essential and key questions.