Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders is a collection of short stories and poetry by English author Neil Gaiman. It was published in the US and UK in 2006 by HarperCollins and Headline Review.
"The Problem of Susan” depicts its protagonist, Professor Hastings (who strongly resembles an adult version of Susan), dealing with the grief and trauma of her entire family’s death in a train crash, as she is interviewed by a college literature student regarding her opinion on Susan’s place in the Narnia books. (Wikipedia)
Anyone who has read and loved C S Lewis’ Narnia books may have encountered what is usually referred to in literary circles today as ‘the problem of Susan’. Susan was the only one of the four Pevensie siblings who survived the train wreck (because she was not on the train or at the station) on Earth which sent the others to Narnia after The Last Battle. In that final book of the series, Susan is conspicuous by her absence. Why? Because, as Peter says, she is “no longer a friend of Narnia” and she is described, perhaps rather uncharitably, by Jill Pole as “interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations”. Several people who are otherwise fans of the Narnia books have a big problem with Susan’s fate. Notably, Harry Potter author J K Rowling once commented: “There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She’s become irreligious basically because she found sex. I have a big problem with that”. Gaiman himself has said of the story that there is much in Lewis’s books that he loves, but each time he read them (or read them aloud to his own children) he found the disposal of Susan to be intensely problematic and deeply irritating. Dealing with this problem was one inspiration for the story, while the other was, in Gaiman’s own words “to talk about the remarkable power of children’s literature”. Hence Professor Hastings comments on “the Victorian notion of the purity and sanctity of childhood [which] demanded that fiction for children should be made… well… pure… and sanctimonious”. (Fabulous Realms)
This is teaching materials for a short story that would be considered untraditional. The assessments included vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking questions, and recall or comprehension questions on one sheet. These questions come in the forms of a mixture of matching, short answer, and multiple-choice. By completing this sheet the student will demonstrate an understanding of the material on multiple levels.
The other assessment is a creative art sheet. The creative art sheet asks the student to use the details from the story and their own knowledge, experiences, and imagination to synthesize a totally new work, this is a picture that is a visual representation that recreates of a scene, character or maybe the student's use or view of an aspect of the story. Along with this picture the student will explain their work with a short explanation.
The materials provided
1 Short Story worksheet
1 Creative Art Sheet
Link to the story (not my PDF, thank Keewaytinook internet high school):
NOTE: I have decided to include the Word Documents that the PDFs are created from so that if you would like to customize the unit for your classroom you can. However, I have used formatting and custom fonts that are not standard with many versions of Microsoft office. This may mean that opening them with a different version of office or without the same fonts installed will throw the formatting off. If so it may take some work to adapt them in your class. I am including them as an extra and would ask that I am not rated on the usability of the Word Docs. Since they are not the finished product, but an extra.