What is identity? How does a person’s personality interact with his or her culture, beliefs, values, and experiences to shape character? How do the location, culture, and economics of a person’s upbringing affect how a character sees himself and his place in society? These are questions for all people and in all novels, but this assignment works best for novels with dynamic characters, where the protagonist experiences a harsh coming-of-age with negative experiences, or one where the protagonist changes drastically for the better.
This is a great lesson for kinesthetic learners! Concepts that are difficult for students who have limited exposure to the human condition will have an easier time understanding the dynamics of a person’s transformation in relation to his or her life experiences. This makes the abstract concrete, and students will connect to their characters on deeper levels through this project.
*This assignment works wonderfully with Night, a novel about a boy’s dehumanizing experience in the Holocaust.
This assignment can take as much or as little time as you want. It works best when you introduce it early in the novel and then follow up on it periodically throughout to re-examine the character as he or she goes through positive and negative changes. The bulk of the time will be taken up by the creation of the boxes. Give the students a class period to create the boxes, decorate the outsides, and brainstorm contents. As you revisit the boxes, you can spend 5-10 minutes at appropriate points in the reading.
Comes with box template and rubric.