Detailed Analysis

January 9, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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The Oyster and the Pearl William Saroyan

The Oyster and the Pearl

Unit 16

W arming up B ackground T ext Analysis R einforcement

The Oyster and the Pearl

Unit 16

Questions / Activities Check-on Preview Objectives

Warming up

Warming up

Questions / Activities

 What do you know about oysters and pearls? What do they usually symbolize? Have you read other literary works where the oyster and/or the pearl is used as a symbol? What do you expect to read when you see the title?

Warming up

Check-on Preview

• Explain the meaning of the colloquial expressions in the following sentences. 1. On the walls, on the shelves, are odds and ends. 2. He sold me the shop for seventy-five, and threw in the haircut. 3. Let bygones be bygones. 4. On top of that, almost all of them are unruly. 5. I can’t kick. 6. They had one too many fights.

Warming up

Objectives

• Understand the structure and the general idea of the play • Think about how to interpret the play • Know something about utopia and dystopia literature • Act out the play

The Oyster and the Pearl Author

Background

Genre

Unit 16

Background

Author

His Life

William Saroyan 1908-1981  Born in California to Armenian immigrants  Spent five years (3-8) in an orphanage after father’s death  Began writing short stories in 1930s  His works celebrated optimism in the midst of trials and tribulations  A prolific writer: short stories, plays, memoirs, etc.

Author

His Works

Background

My Name is Aram (1940), collection of short stories

The Time of Your Life, 1939

His Influence

Background

Author

 Many of Saroyan's stories were based on his childhood experiences among the Armenian-American fruit growers in California or dealt with the rootlessness of the immigrants.  The short story collection My Name is Aram (1940), an international bestseller, was about a young boy and the colorful characters of his immigrant family.  Saroyan's plays were drawn from deep personal sources, and often disregarded the convention that conflict was essential to drama.  The most famous play The Time of Your Life (1939) won a Pulitzer Prize, which Saroyan refused on the grounds that commerce should not judge the arts.

Background

Genre A Utopia Play

Play Setting, character, plot development, dramatic conflict, dramatic conversation Can you locate the dramatic conflict(s) in the play? Language: easy and everyday colloquialism Rich symbolisms

Background

Utopia play

Genre A Utopia Play

Utopia resembles both the Greek words "no place", "outopos", and "good place", "eutopos". Utopia is often created in literature as an non-existent, ideal world. Famous utopia fiction includes Plato’s The Republic and Thomas Moore’s Utopia. Dystopia, the opposite of utopia, is defined as a society characterized by poverty, squalor, or oppression, and usually extrapolates elements of contemporary society. Of the most famous is George Orwell’s 1984.

In what ways can this play be seen as utopia literature?

The Oyster and the Pearl

Unit 16

Theme

Text Analysis Structure

Detailed Analysis

Text Analysis

Theme

Symbolism  The oyster: obstacles and difficulties in life  The pearl: hope and faith  O.K.-by-the-Sea: take-it-easy way of life

Theme  Take it easy and relax and you will live a happier life.  Always have hope in life / Always be optimistic.

Text Analysis

Structure

Part I: Para. 1-165

• introduction of the setting, character, and conflicts Part II: Para. 166-328 • resolution of conflicts

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part I: Main Idea  What is the setting of the play? Does the setting have any significance?  Who are the protagonists of the play? Do a character analysis.  What are the major conflicts of the play?  What is Harry’s role in the conflicts? What makes him the protagonist?

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

 Setting  O.K.-by-the-Sea: not a perfect place, but one where you can be happy as long as you relax and take it easy  Characters  Harry the barber, full of “take-it-easy” philosophy  Miss McCutcheon, new teacher from California, uptight and struggling to fit in  Conflicts  Clark Larrabee & his wife  Clay’s wish to find a pearl and the faint possibility  Miss McCutcheon’s choice between stay and leave  Miss McCutheon’s wish to help the children and the way she does it  Harry  embodiment of human goodness and simple virtue of common working people  A character where all conflicts converge and who serves as catalyst to all their solutions

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part I: Sentence Paraphrase •

Clark Larrabee, come home. Your fishing tackle’s in the closet safe and sound. The fishing’s good, plenty of perch, and bass. Let bygones be bygones. We miss you. (para.53) Intact, healthy

Let’s forget the unpleasant things in the past.

Paraphrasing: This does not read like an advertisement. It’s more like a boy talking to his father from the bottom of his heart, trying to get him home by recounting the things they enjoyed together. Simple but touching.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part I: Sentence Paraphrase •

Miss America, I presume. … You’d be new anywhere. (para. 57 & 63)

Presume: believe to be true because it is very likely

new: fresh and pretty

Paraphrasing: You are just like Miss America, I believe. … You are so pretty and fresh you’d be welcome anywhere. Harry here is paying Miss McCutcheon a compliment; maybe also because few women in the small seaside town wear swimming suits in public. Note the subtle sexist tone here.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part I: Sentence Paraphrase • •

Cooking? … I must see I expected to see a much older man. Well. Thanks. (para. 84-85)

Note the euphemism / humorous undertone here. Miss McCutcheon is saying that cooking is rather an old-fashioned educational program, and a man that comes up with such an idea should be much older than Harry.

Harry is taking this up in a teasing way by pretending to take this as a compliment rather than a criticism that she thinks he looks much younger for his age.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis Part I: Words & Expressions

Words

kick; presume

Phrases

fair and square; safe and sound; get sth straight; get st out of the way; odds and ends; turn out; take it easy; throw in; free of charge; pick up; go off; live off sth./sb.; have to one’s name; on top of

Words

Phrases

Sentence Pattern

I’m no barber.

Grammar

elliptical sentences; rhetorical questions

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis Part I: Exercise

I. Translate the following phrases into Chinese. 1. safe and sound 安全,完整 2. fair and square 正大光明地 3. hale and hearty 硬朗,矍铄 4. by hook and by crook 无论如何 5. null and void 无效 6. 5. heart and soul 全心全意

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis Part I: Exercise

II. Translate the following sentences into English. 1. 大家都想在暑假来临之前完成手头的工作。 Everybody wants to get whatever they have on hand out of the way before summer vacation begins. 2. 店主把衣服打折卖给我,还送了条腰带。 The shop owner sold me the dress at a discount and threw in a belt. 3. 相当多的大学毕业生认为啃老是理所当然的。 Quite a number of college graduates take it for granted to live off their parents. 4. 当他从乡村来到城市时,仅有的是身上的衣服和心头的壮志。 When he came from the countryside to the city, all he had to his name was the clothes on his back and the ambition in his heart.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part II: Main Idea  How are the conflicts resolved?  Clark returns home after reading Clay’s ad on the local paper  Clay realizes there may be no pearl in the oyster  The writer buys the oyster and lends hope to Clay  Miss McCutcheon decides to stay  Miss McCutcheon loosens up and learns from Harry how to deal with troubled children

 What do you think of the way these conflicts are resolved?  Do you see any present significance in the play?

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part II: Sentence Paraphrase •

It’s never too soon for any of us to face the truth. (para. 176)

It couldn’t be soon enough; the sooner the better

Paraphrasing: Any of us should face the truth; the earlier, the better.

Cf. It’s never too old to learn.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part II: Sentence Paraphrase •

…in as much as only one oyster in a million has a pearl in it, truth favors the probability that this is not the millionth oyster… (para. 178)

(formal) used to introduce a phrase which explains why or how much another part of the sentence is true

Support or prefer one possibility

Paraphrasing: Because only one oyster out of a million has a pearl in it, it is not likely that this oyster will be just that one. The chances of finding a pearl in an oyster are vey slim.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part II: Sentence Paraphrase A few people find jobs a couple of months every year North or South, come back half dead of homesickness, and live on next to nothing the rest of the year. (para. 215) Subject complement, feeling awful because they are homesick

Almost nothing Depend on, be supported by

Paraphrasing: A few people work away from home just for a couple of months because they are terribly homesick. For the rest of the year, they practically have no income whatever and have to depend on what little money they have saved during the working months.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part II: Sentence Paraphrase Clay believes there’s a pearl in this oyster for the same reason you and I believe whatever we believe to keep us going. (para. 215)

Keep sb. going: encourage, cheer up

the reason + that/why + relative clause; here the relative pronoun is omitted

Paraphrasing: We have the courage to face the world with all its obstacles and difficulties because we have our faith/belief/hope. It’s the same with Clay. He believes there’s a pearl in the oyster because it gives him hope that his father will come home.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part II: Sentence Paraphrase •

As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing is a pearl. (para. 295)

In my opinion Clay’s belief that there is a pearl in the oyster, and Harry’s way of helping him

A precious experience, a new attitude towards life

Paraphrasing: What I’ve witnessed here today is a precious experience to me. Through Clay’s belief that there is a pearl in the oyster, and Harry’s way of trying to protect his belief, I have learned a new way of life, to take it easy and never to lose hope.

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis

Part II: Words & Expressions Words

assortment; swine; afford; favor

Phrases

do sb. the courtesy of doing sth.; check up; next to nothing; be ashamed of; one too many; get around; out of one’s mind; come to life; put sb. out of business; come by

Words

Phrases

Sentence Pattern

there is sth. to be said for doing; (it is) no use doing; it’s never too soon to do

Grammar

I’d rather he open the oyster. (subjunctive)

Text Analysis

Detailed Analysis Part II: Exercise

Translate the following sentences into English: 1. 他为了兼职放弃几门选修课不是没有道理的,毕竟他要养活自己。 There is something to be said for his giving up some selective courses for a part-time job; after all, he has to support himself. 2. 香港的夜生活很有名。每当华灯初上,整个城市就生动了起来。 Hong Kong is famous for its night life. The whole city comes to life when twilight comes. 3. 越早认识到自己的错误并做出弥补越好。 It’s never too soon to realize one’s mistakes and try to make amends. 4. 网上购书的发展让众多传统书店被迫停业。 Online book shopping has put a lot of traditional bookstores out of business. 5. 我希望他在去暑期学校前可以完成学期论文。 I’d rather he finish his term paper before going for summer school.

The Oyster and the Pearl

Unit 16

Discussion

Reinforcement

Retelling

Reinforcement

Discussion

Work in groups of four: •



The play’s symbolism is very straightforward, characters are somewhat stock and there are traces of sexism in it. How would you account for these? Would you take into consideration the historical background (1953)? If you were to write a play with the same theme set in contemporary society, what changes would you like to make?

Reinforcement

Acting

Act out the play! • Work in three groups of eight. Each group will act out the whole play. Make necessary changes if you want. • You will be the judge for you classmates’ performance, and awards will be given to the best play, best actor, and best actress.

Reinforcement

Further Reading

Suggested further reading: • Utopia literature:  A Modern Utopia, H. G. Wells  Lost Horizon, James Hilton

• Dystopia literature:  1984, George Orwell  The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

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