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Students discover the novel Waiting, examining such topics as the Cultural Revolution and Confucian values as well as tensions between old and new, rural and urban, and communism and capitalism.
This unit serves as a follow-up to the Things Fall Apart unit earlier this year. The themes of identity and the tensions between old and new that were traced in the prior novel will also be developed by Ha Jin in his novel Waiting. In addition to extending their investigation of these themes, students will also explore ideas of love, loyalty, and fate as they read both the novel and the short story “The Lady with the Dog” by Anton Chekhov. While Ha Jin’s story is a universally human tale that asks its readers to consider the meaning of true love and happiness, it is also a story whose plot and characters are greatly affected by the time and place in which it is set. In order to understand the degree to which the setting impacts the novel, students will read paired passages on such topics as the Cultural Revolution, foot-binding, and Confucian values. The protagonist of the story, Lin Kong, struggles with his loyalties to two women, while China simultaneously struggles with tensions between old and new, rural and urban, communism and capitalism. It is through investigating all of these tensions that students can gain an understanding of Lin as a tragic character in the center of a complex situation in China.
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Book: Waiting by Ha Jin (Vintage, 2000)
Short Story: “The Lady with the Pet Dog” by Anton Chekhov
Article: “The Peculiar History of Foot Binding in China” by Matt Schiavenza (The Atlantic, 2013)
Article: “The Long March” (History.com, 2009)
Article: “China’s Cultural Revolution, Explained” by Austin Ramzy (he New York Times, 2016)
Article: “The Analects of Confucius”
Video: “The Cultural Revolution in China” by Yohuru Williams (History.com)
Essay: “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Concerning the Great Proletarian Revolution” (Peking Review, Volume 9, 1966)
Poem: “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman (The Walt Whitman Archive)
Article: “Chinese Heroism Effort Is Met with Cynicism” by Andrew Jacobs (The New York Times, 2012)
See Text Selection Rationale
This assessment accompanies Unit 6 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Students will focus on writing an essay in which they analyze Ha Jin’s treatment of one of the essential questions of the unit. Students will focus on developing thesis statements that offer not their own opinion, but rather an assessment of the author’s opinion. Students will then develop their analysis by using abundant evidence from the test to support their claims.
diction, theme, motif, characterization, genre (historical fiction), allusion, symbol, foil, conflict, setting, allegory, structure, narration, dramatic irony
comm- (communism, commune), in- (inaudible, vs. insinuate), ami- (amiable)
short story: irresolute (2), immorality (2), diffidence (4), idle (9), indignation (12), vexation (14), obsequiousness (15)
novel: reticent (6), disentangle (9), animosity (9), inaudible (11), furtive (24), reproach (24), resolute (24), despondency (25 and 80), dissuade (26), pungent (27), lassitude (29), clandestine (34), denounced (36), derisive (37), billet (38 and 43), eminent (47), melodious (50), diffidence (53), extricate (59), voluptuous (67), virility (73), taciturn (76), insinuate (77), languor (80), insipid (82), carmine (84), commune/communal (86), askew (89), unseemly (94), extricate (95), foiled (96), impracticability (99), fractious (106), profusely (109), chauvinism (113), innumerable (117), corpulent (120), exploiting (125), reciprocity, earnest (136), incongruous (143), amiable (143), avuncular (152), megalomania (153), sinewy (162), candid (166), pallid (185), unkempt (190), repressed (191), reticence (192), irresolute (193), inconsolable (197), predestined (198), nominally (216), plaintively (223), lucrative (230), anticlimactic (for discussion), carbuncular (242), capricious (254), auspicious (255), tedious (257), languid (266), vitality (277), pliable (277), passivity (295), alleviate (296), superfluous (303), resonant (308)
short story: Yalta (1), groyne (5), lorgnette (5)
novel: communism (novel), bound feet (6), commune (7), filial duty (8), “production brigade” (9), Red Guard (33), Chairman Mao (49), Cultural Revolution (55), Central Committee (69), Confucianism (116), “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman (144), Mao suit (146), crone (157), yin (190), yang (194), “nervous disorder” (281), Spring Festival (283, 299)
Students will need some basic knowledge about Communism, Mao, China, and the Cultural Revolution in order to best understand the conflict and themes of this novel.
“The Lady with the Pet Dog” — Sections 1 and 2
Analyze how Chekhov develops the themes of love and fate in his short story.
“The Lady with the Pet Dog” — Section 3
Analyze how the author further develops the themes of fate and free will.
Waiting pp. 3 – 9 — “Peculiar History of Footbinding”
Identify and infer information about the characters, themes, and conflict of the novel.
Waiting pp. 9 – 17 — Prologue
Evaluate the merits of Lin’s request for a divorce.
Analyze the author’s development of the characters and conflict.
Waiting pp. 21 – 30 — Part One: Chapter 1
Analyze the author’s characterization of Manna Wu.
Identify the ways in which government impacts individuals’ lives and choices in China in 1963.
Waiting pp. 31 – 36 — Part One: Chapter 2
“The Cultural Revolution in China”
Analyze the impact of the setting on the plot of the novel.
Continue to identify the author’s characterization of Manna and Lin.
Waiting pp. 37 – 43 — Part One: Chapter 3
“The Long March”
Analyze how the march impacts the plot, character, and theme development of the novel.
Waiting pp. 45 – 54 — Part One: Chapters 4 and 5
Identify techniques used by the author to develop conflict and theme.
Waiting pp. 55 – 61 — Part One: Chapter 6
Describe the Cultural Revolution and how the choice of setting impacts the plot.
Analyze how the opinion of other members of their community impact Manna and Lin and their developing relationship.
Waiting pp. 62 – 70 — Part One: Chapter 7
Analyze the role that societal expectations and fear play in the development of Manna and Lin’s relationship.
Waiting pp. 71 – 80 — Part One: Chapters 8 and 9
Analyze the author’s characterization of Lin in chapters 8 and 9.
Waiting pp. 81 – 85 — Part One: Chapter 10
Analyze and describe how the author continues to develop Lin’s internal conflict.
Waiting pp. 86 – 96 — Part One: Chapter 11
Analyze the author’s development of Lin’s character and the central conflict of the novel.
Waiting pp. 97 – 102 — Part One: Chapter 12
Analyze how the author develops the theme of waiting in this chapter.
Waiting pp. 105 – 119 — Part Two: Chapters 1 and 2
Analyze the impact of the setting on the plot of the novel.
Describe how the nature motifs add to the theme and plot development.
Waiting pp. 120 – 133 — Part Two: Chapter 3
“Confucian Teaching: Reciprocity and the Five Human Relationships”
“The Analects of Confucius”
Analyze how the author develops the idea of conflict between old and new (urban and rural) in China.
Waiting pp. 134 – 150 — Part Two: Chapters 4 and 5
“Decision of the Central Committee...”
Analyze Manna and Lin’s relationship at this point in the novel.
Waiting pp. 151 – 159 — Part Two: Chapter 6
“Song of Myself”
Analyze and explain how the allusions to Leaves of Grass help develop character and theme.
Waiting pp. 160 – 175 — Part Two: Chapters 7 and 8
Analyze the author’s characterization of Geng Yang and explain the impact of the author’s choice to present Geng as a foil to Lin.
Analyze the author’s development of the theme of fate in this chapter.
Waiting pp. 176 – 189 — Part Two: Chapters 9 and 10
Analyze how the violence of chapter 9 develops the plot and themes of the novel.
Waiting pp. 190 – 199 — Part Two: Chapters 11 and 12
Analyze the development of Lin and Manna’s relationship.
Analyze the author’s development of thematic topics.
Waiting pp. 203 – 220 — Part Three: Chapters 1 and 2
Identify and analyze the author’s tone and the impact of this tone on the events of these chapters.
Waiting pp. 221 – 235 — Part Three: Chapter 3
Define true love.
Waiting pp. 236 – 249 — Part Three: Chapters 4 and 5
Describe the author’s tone and explain how the author uses tone and juxtaposition to reveal theme.
Waiting pp. 250 – 265 — Part Three: Chapters 6 and 7
Describe how the author develops Lin’s character in chapters 6 and 7.
Analyze how the characterization of Lin develops the themes of love and waiting.
Waiting pp. 266 – 282 — Part Three: Chapters 8 and 9
Evaluate the impact of lack of true love and of waiting on Lin and Manna’s relationship.
Waiting pp. 283 – 298 — Part Three: Chapters 10 and 11
Analyze the author’s use of Geng Yang to develop his message.
Describe how Lin’s internal dialogue further characterizes him.
Waiting pp. 299 – 308 — Part Three: Chapter 12
Analyze the author’s messages about love and about China.
Evaluate Lin as a character.
Discuss and debate the essential questions using evidence from the novel.