Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: Magical Realism in Latin American Literature

Students will explore the literary genre of magical realism through a selection of short stories and the novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold, analyzing how writers blend realism with fantastical elements to reveal truths about human nature.

icon/ela/white

ELA

Unit 4

10th Grade

Unit Summary


The fourth unit, centered around the core text Chronicles of a Death Foretold, fits into the year-long theme of the individual in society as students use the novella to explore a community's responsibility for the tragic murder of one of its own members. In this unit, students are introduced to magical realism, a literary genre most often associated with Latin America. First used to describe art in the 1920s, magical realism blends elements of realism with fantasy; however, characters do not question the magic and instead, accept it as a normal occurrence. The term was later used to describe the works of writers of the Latin American Boom during the 1960s and 1970s, a literary movement in which young Latin American writers challenged the European literary canon.

In the first arc of the unit, students familiarize themselves with the characteristics of magical realism by reading a selection of short stories by Latin American writers Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Julio Cortázar, Jose Luis Borges, and Octavio Paz. They will also read the stories of Aimee Bender and Karen Russell, two contemporary American writers who are making important contributions to the genre. After closely examining the writers' craft and style, students will write their own magical realism short story in a mid-unit Performance Task.

In the second arc of the unit, students read Gabriel García Márquez's novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In this short text, an unnamed narrator returns to his hometown 27 years after a murder took place there to find out exactly what happened. He interviews members of the community to figure out why no one intervened to stop a murder that they all knew was going to happen. Another example of magical realism, García Márquez's novella explores how a community's values impact its sense of responsibility to individuals. While reading, students will pay particular attention to the text's nonlinear structure and how García Márquez uses this structure to reveal important ideas about truth and memory. 

Fishtank Plus for ELA

Unlock features to optimize your prep time, plan engaging lessons, and monitor student progress.

Texts and Materials


Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

Assessment


This assessment accompanies Unit 3 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Key Knowledge


Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • What are the defining characteristics of magical realism? How do writers use magical realism to tell us about the real world and ourselves?
  • How does a community's values impact its relationship with individuals?
  • What is truth? How does our own bias and perspective distort the truth? 
  • What is our collective responsibility to people in our community? What hinders a community from acting on behalf of one of its own members?

Vocabulary

Text-based

augury chronicle conjecture culture shock desolation evoke feign foretold frivolity implacable impertinence impenetrable indispensable ineradicably ingenuous interminable irrevocable lucidity lycanthropic machismo magnanimous obscure oblique ominous ostracize pernicious reproach resolute reticence reverence

Literary Terms

allegory epigraph gothic literature metafiction novella symbol

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 10th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Notes for Teachers

Chronicle of a Death Foretold contains some profanity and mature themes including violence and sexual content. Be sure to fully preview the text before teaching the unit in order to best support students as they encounter these moments.

Lesson Map


Common Core Standards


Core Standards

L.9-10.5
RI.9-10.1
RI.9-10.2
RL.9-10.1
RL.9-10.2
RL.9-10.3
RL.9-10.4
RL.9-10.5
RL.9-10.6
RL.9-10.7
SL.9-10.1
SL.9-10.1.a
SL.9-10.1.b
SL.9-10.1.c
SL.9-10.1.d
SL.9-10.3
SL.9-10.4
SL.9-10.6
W.9-10.1
W.9-10.3
W.9-10.3.a
W.9-10.3.b
W.9-10.3.c
W.9-10.3.d
W.9-10.3.e
W.9-10.5
W.9-10.9.a

Supporting Standards

L.9-10.1
L.9-10.2
L.9-10.2.c
L.9-10.3
L.9-10.6
RI.9-10.3
RI.9-10.4
RI.9-10.10
RL.9-10.1
RL.9-10.2
RL.9-10.3
RL.9-10.4
RL.9-10.5
RL.9-10.6
RL.9-10.10
SL.9-10.1
SL.9-10.6
W.9-10.4
W.9-10.9
W.9-10.9.a
W.9-10.9.b
W.9-10.10
icon/arrow/right/large copy

Unit 3

"I was born to join in love, not hate—that is my nature": Civil Disobedience in Antigone

icon/arrow/right/large

Unit 5

Reading as Resistance: Reading Lolita in Tehran

Request a Demo

See all of the features of Fishtank in action and begin the conversation about adoption.

Learn more about Fishtank Learning School Adoption.

Contact Information

School Information

What courses are you interested in?

ELA

Math

Are you interested in onboarding professional learning for your teachers and instructional leaders?

Yes

No

Any other information you would like to provide about your school?

We Handle Materials So You Can Focus on Students

We Handle Materials So You Can Focus on Students

We've got you covered with rigorous, relevant, and adaptable ELA lesson plans for free