High School English Lesson Plan on How to Write an Explication

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Materials: Paper, pen or pencil, The Story And Its Writer book

Objective: By the end of this lesson, students will know what an explication is and be able to write a 2-3 page paper on a story of their choice. I will be teaching the students how to depict a passage by thoroughly reading it and having a class discussion. Class discussions are better because I don’t want to put any one student on the spot. Students feel more comfortable when they hear others speaking and then they will start to engage in the conversation.


1. (10:00- 10:03)

Ask students what an explication is. Then write the definition on the board. Explication is an analysis or interpretation, especially of a literary passage or work or philosophical doctrine. I am asking the students to see if any of them know what an explication is. Teach them what one is because it is important in the literary world to be able to depict a passage.

2. (10:03- 10:25)

Ask students to get out The Story And Its Writer to find the short story “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin. This starts on page 177. Have the students read the short story. I want the students to read the story by themselves because reading out loud, students get confused and students focus better when the room is quiet to read in. Since many students don’t know how to pronounce French words correctly, I will write acronyms on the board for each of the French words in order for the students to be able to read, “Desiree’s Baby” on their own. Make sure to tell student that at the end of the pages in “Desiree’s Baby”, there are definitions of what each French word means.

3. (10:25- 10:30)

After students have finished reading, have a class discussion and summarize the book. I want to have a class discussion on the story to make sure they understood the story because you can’t do an explication unless you thoroughly understand everything in the story.

4. (10:30- 10:40)

Now the students know about the story, have them pick out a passage and write why it’s important to the story. I want to see if they can try to pick out a good passage and be able to explain why they chose it.

5. (10:40- 10:50)

Hear what the students have written and discuss why the passage would work to write an explication about or why it wouldn’t work. This will see how well the students understand what an explication is without me having to show them.

6.(10:50- 11:00)

Now show the students the passage I picked on page 180. Have the students read it a couple times in order to understand the one passage. Students will have to try to depict this passage and say why I picked this passage. Why is it important to the story?

“But, above all,” she wrote, “night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that out dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.”


7. (11:00-11:20)

This will be time for people to share why the passage is important and how it relates to the story. I also want them to tell me why they think I picked this passage. I want to have the students think deeper and outside the box in what they normally like to do. It makes them a better reader if they can put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

8. (11:20-11:27)

Tell the students on why I picked the passage and why it’s important to the story. I picked this passage because the story is about a man not loving his wife because of the kid that they had together. The kid was a mixed child and that was not okay in the society. In the society in the story, African Americans were slaves, while the Caucasians owed them.

 9. (11:27- 11:30)

Tell the students about their homework. Now that students know what an explication is and know how to write one, I want them to pick a story out of The Story And Its Writer. I want the students to read the story at least three times and pick out a passage of their choice and write a 2-3 page explication of it. This will show me if the students understood the lesson plan and see if they can be able to depict a passage on their own.


Critical Reflection

I chose to do a lesson plan because I am a person who loves planning things while it’s something new and interesting to do. I chose the story “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin because when I read it, I feel like I really understood the story. In order to be able to write an explication, you have to be able to understand the story and be able to depict a part or passage in the story itself. I choose the passage where Chopin says, ““But, above all,” she wrote, “night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that out dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery (182).” This passage tells what the story is about and summarizes the story and why everything happened. I thought the passage would be a good example to show the students, because I want them to be able to understand what an explication is. Also this story is one of the easier stories to understand. I chose to do a lot of group discussions, so students would feel more comfortable talking rather than me picking out students to speak.

A couple other passages that I want to show the students are the about little details that show Armand knew that he was the cause of the baby being half African American. On page 179 in “Desiree’s Baby” it says, “Presently her husband entered the room, and without noticing her, went to a table and began to search among papers which covered it.” Then on the same page further down Armand says, “It means, he answered lightly, that the child is not white; which means you are not white.” After reading these passages repeatedly, it seems like Armand knew that he was the one who was the carrier of the African American gene. Armand is looking for that letter but doesn’t want to say anything until he knows that the truth is out. So it’ easy for him to take his anger and blame it on his wife. When people get angry, they lash out of others which is exactly what Armand did. Then when Armand tells Desiree what the problem is, he lashes out in a soft voice because I feel like he feels bad that he has to put the blame on his wife but won’t take blame until he finds evidence. So in the scene he never finds the evidence so he blames his wife for the baby, even though his wife has lighter skin, hair is brown, and her eyes are gray. Desiree even makes a point that is she lighter tone of skin color than Armand (179).

An explication really helps and challenges a student rather than just summarizing the story. Summarizing the story is good to be able to make sure the students understand what they are reading.  Explications really help readers focus more in depth on one thing rather than just focusing on the whole story. You can figure out a story by just depicting part of it. That makes people better readers and overall better at understanding things. It makes people think outside the box, which we don’t do too much anymore.

Overall, I think the lesson plan is really going to help high school students understand what an explication is and become a better reader and writer. In doing so, this will help them become ready for the college level because professors want students to be able to depict parts of the story rather than just reading it.

Chopin, Kate. “Desiree’s Baby.” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 177-82. Print.


“Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Extra Credit Assignment

Joyce Carol Oates writes the short story, “Where are You Going Where Have You Been?” This story is about a 15 year old girl named Connie who sees herself more mature than she really is. She is so naive that she doesn’t notice she has a stalker and when she is home alone, he comes to her house and harasses her about the things he would do to her if she went on this ride with him. Little does she know she ends up in a field with no one but Arnold Friend and herself.

One difference that I noticed between the short story and the film is the endings to both of them. In “Where are You Going Where Have You Been,” the ending is “’My sweet little blue-eyed girl,’ he said in a half- sung sigh that had nothing to do with her brown eyes but was taken up just the same by the vast sunlit reaches of the land behind him and on all sides of him- so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to (663).” In the short film, the ending seems like it stops before what actually is going to happen to Connie. Connie rides with Arnold but he returns her home. It seems like they wanted you to make your own ending of the story instead of doing it for us.

Both the story and short film are about, “a tabloid psychopath known as ‘The Pied Piper of Tuscon’ (934). This guy’s specialty was to seduce and sometimes kill teen-aged girls. The film has more things and details about the story compared to the book because the director had to expand the story to make it into a film. That is why some things are different than things in the book and why there is more detail in the film rather than in the short story.

Works Cited

Oates, Joyce Carol. “Smooth Talk: Short Story into Film.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 934-938. Print.

—. “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 651-663. Print.

Smooth Talk. Dir. Joyce Chopra. Perf. Laura Dern, Treat Williams. International Spectrafilm, 1985. DVD.


What We Talk About

Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” and Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We talk About Ann Frank,” stories seem like a real life situation of people sitting around a table discussing political and social view. They give a unique sense in which they have very different opinions of the world in what they think is right and wrong in certain situations. Even though Carver’s “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love,” and Englander’s “What We Talk about When We talk About Ann Frank,” have different topics of discussion they both end with dark endings of silence. Whether it is meant for the reader to figure out how they define love as in Carvers or what is “anything” defined in Englander’s story.

Comparing both Englanders and Carver’s story, Carvers story focuses on the difficulties of emotional connection while having conventional, social, and political concerns. In Carver’s story, two couples drink gin and talk about love in an atmosphere that grows increasingly tense as the alcohol starts making its way into each individual. Raymond Carver’s story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love includes many things such as, religious and cultural arguments, an epiphany, and an ending that forces you to reconsider your own definition of love. This story exposes real glimpses of everyday life instead of featuring predictable plots.

Englander’s version follows a similar story line, while substituting two Jewish couples. Floridians, the other Ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemites. In Englanders story the setting of the story is very similar with Two Jewish couples drinking and smoking pot one afternoon in Florida call it ‘the Anne Frank game’. If a second Holocaust were to start up, which of their neighbors would give them a hiding place? Then they ask if their own spouses, if they weren’t Jewish, would shelter them in the same circumstances. The story ends in silence; no one will say what cannot be said, which is that this wife believes her husband would not hide her.

Englanders In “What We Talk About When We talk About Ann Frank,” the two couples play “the Anne Frank game,” wondering which of their friends would hide them in the event of another Holocaust and for some it’s an emotional fallout propels people to terrible acts. Then in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” has emotional fallouts that have either made people to do terrible acts or thinking of doing terrible things to the person that they either love now or they used to love. The stories show how far people are willing to go for one another.

In “What We Talk About When We talk About Ann Frank,” Englander last paragraph says,

“She does not say it. And he does not say it. And of the four of us no one will say what cannot be said – that this wife believes her husband would not hide her. What to do? What will come of it? And so we stand like that, the four of us trapped in that pantry. Afraid to open the door and let out what we’ve locked inside (307).”

After reading this, it made me feel like I was in the pantry with the two couples and I could feel the tension between everyone. I think we have all had this kind of situation happen to us just in a different location and discussing a different topic. Since it was a game that they were playing, it’s hard to tell if the husband would actually help his wife if the second Holocaust actually happened. In the book it says,

She says, yes, but to him it sounds as it does to us,

so that he is now asking and asking. But wouldn’t I? Wouldn’t

I hide you? Even if it was life and death— if it would spare you,

and they’d kill me alone for doing it? Wouldn’t I?

Shoshana pulls back her hand (307).

After reading this, for everyone, this question would be hard to answer because you never know how you will react if something like this happened. People can talk all they want and say what people want to hear but who knows if they will actually follow up with what they say. Maybe the husband was being honest and the truth hurts sometimes. People have different opinion on things and it can make things really awkward when people disagree on a topic, but eventually you get over it.

Just like Englanders last paragraph, Carvers last paragraph in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” says “I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark (141).” This situation happened because Mel was going into a rant about his ex-wife. He wished that she would get married but then wished that she got attacked by a swarm of bees because she is allergic to them. But he would make sure the kids weren’t in the house because he never wanted to harm them and then since he was in an intoxicated state he wanted call his kids on an impulse but finally calmed down and decided not to do anything. So that is why the room was so dark and quiet because what do you say to someone who is going on a rant. Normally you just let them go and cool down, and eventually start a new topic.  That wasn’t the only situation where someone wanted to harm someone or even kill themselves. Ed who was Terri’s lover wanted to kill her and her husband at one point. He also abused her when they were together and Terri didn’t think anything of it because he would say “I Love You (132),” while dragging her on the floor. Love makes you crazy. That is what I got out of this story. Love can change a person make them do things they never thought about.

In Englanders story, things are discussed broader and nothing is really defined in the story. He leaves you always thinking instead of getting a straight answer to a topic. Compared to Carvers story, you know how each character defines their versions of love. Even if all the characters don’t agree you still hear their view points on the topic. Then in Englanders you get direct answers. Especially Mark. Who knows if we are interpreting him correctly? We may be looking at it too deep and just because he didn’t have a definite answer, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t hide his wife. He could have been thinking very deeply and was put on the spot and wanted to be completely honest. Instead of coming up with a quick answer knowing if they actually mean it or not. We will never know. We have to make our own ending to the story.

In Both Englander and Carvers stories, when talking about life, it can lead to people’s opinions to where they may agree to disagree. Also when you add alcohol or drugs to the situation, it can make people think way outside the box, or they may even say things that they would never say sober because they know how certain may take it. But when intoxicated they don’t regard peoples feeling sometimes and may regret what they said the next day. In Carver’s story love is defined differently for each individual, but the couples can agree that they do love one another. Some days more than others, but you are going to have those day where you also want to kill the other person. Doesn’t mean you are actually going to do it, just means your emotions are running high at the moment. Where as in Englanders story was more about what was right versus wrong in situations. People aren’t always going to agree with peoples actions but they have to learn how to deal with them. Whether you are going to actually save your wife in the second Holocaust or not you never really know until the situations happen its self. Both stories have very high emotions, they exemplify that sometimes you can’t control them.



Works Cited

Carver, Raymond. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 132-41. Print.

Englander, Nathan. “What We Talk About When We talk About Ann Frank.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 293-307. Print.

Two Kinds Explication

Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” tells a story about a mother and her daughter and their journey to become someone or something in America. Jing Mei’s mother immigrated from China due to the high hopes Jing’s mother had for her in America. During the story, Jing has to overcome disappointment from her mother while dealing on how to please herself at the same time. At the very end Jing Mei says,

“And for the first time or so it seemed, I noticed the piece on the right-hand side. It was called “Perfectly Contented.” I tried to play this one as well. It had a lighter melody but the same flowing rhythm and turned out to be quite easy. “Pleading Child” was shorter but slower; “Perfectly Contented” was longer but faster. And after I played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song”. (829)

Jing Mei had to overcome disappointing her mother by not being a prodigy, learn to be an obedient Chinese daughter who did everything her mother told her to do, while struggling to make herself happy.

The song, “Pleading Child”, tells the upbringing of Jing Mei’s childhood into her teenage years of her struggling with her mother on unrealistic goals that she wanted her daughter to do and become. Jing Mei’s mother believed that you could be anyone in America that you wanted to be. Also Jing Mei’s mother thought you could become a prodigy overnight. Jing Mei struggled with pleasing her mother because she has tried everything that her mother wanted her to do. From rehearsing and memorizing songs for the Chinese Shirley Temple, to trying to mimic things Jing Mei’s mother finds in magazines from cleaning many houses.

“Pleading Child” is at its highest peak of Jing Mei’s life. An example is when Jing Mei’s mother makes a very clear statement to her daughter saying, “Only two kinds of daughters,” she shouted in Chinese. “Those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!” (827) Jing Mei was pleading to be herself, instead of being the obedient child that her mother wanted her to be. When Jing Mei kept failing at things such as, not getting casted for Chinese Shirley Temples, not receiving any recognition for the piano playing, and not being able to please her mother; I think Jing Mei tried getting her mother’s attention by being the opposite of what her mom wanted which was obedient. So Jing Mei did not get straight A’s and dropped out of college. Jing Mei just wanted to get her mother’s attention and thought her mother would stop trying to push her to something she wasn’t.

The song “Perfectly Content” is being played because Jing Mei’s mother offered the piano for Jing to keep. I think that when Jing finally realized that she was content with the effort and life she has now. Even though she never received a trophy, Jing looks as the piano as her shiny trophy she won back. The piano makes Jing feel proud of herself.  I think the piano is her mother’s ticket of approval.

When Jing Mei says, “Pleading Child” was shorter but slower; “Perfectly Contented” was longer but faster. And after I played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song”. (829) I think that she has finally found a happy medium in her life. I think it’s a symbol of her life when she figures out that both parts of the song fit to the same song. It all flows together instead of separately which was how her life was. Jing Mei’s life was all about a “pleading child”, not a content child.  Since “Pleading Child” is shorter and slower, I think it has to do with how long she was pleading to her mother about letting her go. It’s also played shorter because I think it shows a new chapter in Jing Mei’s life, ever since she received the piano which is a symbol of her mother’s approval. “Perfectly Content” is played faster and longer because I believe that since Jing Mei Is finally content, it it’s going to stay that way hence why it’s played longer. It’s also played fast because Jing Mei became content in a blink of an eye. It happened so quickly, but it took so long to get to the place that Jing Mei is at now, which is “Perfectly Content”!

Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 820-29. Print.