PORTFOLIO ASSIGNMENT 3.2: POEM SUMMARY AND CHARACTER
As you know, good readers make textual connections. These textual
connections are text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world. We’ll be
reviewing each of these textual connections throughout the course. For this
assignment, you’ll be making a text-to-text connection.
Text-to-text connections are more than superficially comparing
characters from one book to another. I often hear students try to pawn off a
text-to-text connection such as, “A character in Book A answered the telephone,
and so did the character in Book B. That’s a connection.” Well . . . not quite.
Let’s try to go a little deeper.
One way to make text-to-text connections is when you have a
primary text likeThe Crucible, then after
reading another text, you evaluate the primary text in a different way. For
this assignment, you will be given a poem and then asked to apply and compare
the primary text, which, in your case, isThe Crucible. But first,
read and understand the poem below.
The houses are haunted
by white night-gowns
none are green,
or purple with green rings,
or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
with socks of lace
and beaded ceintures.
People are not going
to dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
drunk and asleep in his boots,
in red weather.
Right away, one of the first questions students ask me when
reading this poem is, “What’s a ‘ceinture’?” A ceinture is a beaded belt. When
reading poems, imagine the action. We have two areas of action in this poem:
the houses haunted by people in their nightgowns getting ready for bed and the
drunken sailor probably down at the docks. Once you have the center of action,
you can begin to visualize the meaning of the poem.
First, let’s discuss the nightgown people. What are these people
like? First of all, they’re going to bed at ten o’clock in plain, white night
gowns. What image strikes you with the verb “haunted”? Are these people
drifting through their own homes? Are they full of life? Why so much
description of what their nightgowns arenot?
Second, the sailor who falls asleep in his boots, what is he like?
Is he full of life, or is he drifting through his life in plain night clothes?
Third, why is the bedtime, ten o’clock, such a disillusionment?
The speaker of the poem (not the same as the poet) is making an observation
about how to live life. What do you think it is?