Before You Dive In
When you want to explore the layers of meaning in a story, it helps to use a graphic organizer to keep track of all your questions and the answers you find.
The link below will take you to the graphic organizer you’ll use to explore the layers of meaning in the story, “The Bicycle Girl.” You’ll see that the organizer is divided into three sections: Before Reading, While Reading, and After Reading.
Worksheet for Bicycle Girl
Before you start reading a story, it helps to look it over and make some predictions about what you’re in for. That way, you can start asking questions and making predictions that will keep you involved with the characters and events as you read. For example, here is how one reader filled out the top section of the graphic organizer before reading Edith Wharton’s story, “The Journey.”
We’ll discuss the While Reading section of the graphic organizer soon. First, though, you need to learn about some of the literary elements you’ll be looking for as you read.
Put It All Together
When you finish the story, it’s time to fill in the last section of the graphic organizer. Try to answer any new questions that occurred to you while you were reading. Summarize the main events of the plot in your own words. Then, stop and think. How and why have the characters changed during the course of the story? What do their experiences show us about life?
After you have submitted your completed graphic organizer, continue with the unit.
The Bicycle Girl
by Stanislav Borokowski
Click links below to view annotation.
I would much like to tell you about the girl I met the other day not far from the Ferris wheel. She apologized for having locked her bicycle in such a way as to make it difficult for me to extract mine, especially with the fresh produce I had in one hand, though the real problem – one could argue – was the gigantic metal baskets attached to the back of my bike, which hardly serve any purpose, as they always open up from the bottom of themselves, rendering them rather unsuited for transporting produce. In any case after her apology the only thing that occurred to me to say was a compliment for her bicycle, something like: "Oh, don’t you have a nice bike." She thanked me in the name of her Schwinn and we rode off in our different directions – she towards the Great Cathedral and I right past that famous Ferris wheel.
What I really wanted to say was that this bicycle girl – or is she already a bicycle woman? (At what point does a girl get upgraded to woman? The kind of issue that we here in the post-post-Soviet era are left to deal with.) – to love this girl (we’ll let her be a girl for a little while longer) would be like placing a smooth, round stone from a dried up riverbed onto your tongue for no good reason –
Something extraordinary and inexplicable took place this evening at a picnic table in the darkening park, in light of which everything now seems cleaner and more obedient.
The trees closed a circle around me
Sight of trees circling closer around (and personification) the narrator.
, the clouds sank deeper as if they had something to say and for a second I stepped out of my bewildered agitation long enough to listen. The bicycle girl blew off to a far corner of my mind
, one I myself don’t visit very often and where she might dwell in peace as she fades away. I can live with her there, can live with a lot things that a few hours ago seemed so hard to swallow. Like the relentless progression of days, most of them without particularity or special promise (or am I just incapable of giving them with that, of tying them down in my memory to anything singular or essential?). I answered the clouds, saying – "Let the days grow like children and leave us.
" And rubbed my bare hands together, remembering that in that very spot last week the last carnival tents were folded up and driven off, and that while we were waiting for summer to be over, it already was.
The bicycle girl appeared last night to me in a dream. We ran into each other at a bar in the 7th district where a documentary on East German punk bands was being screened before a single man stretched out on a lawn chair. As I began to make an off-handed gesture of farewell (though neither of us seemed to be going anywhere) she leaned over and gently placed her soft cheek against mine, smiling-frowning at me with an expression that I could make no sense of. What might she have been trying to say? What was she trying to say?