Back to the Drawing Board

The proverbial They are always saying that lessons won't stick in students' minds unless they're applicable to their lives.  So I'm constantly looking for real-life scenarios that parallel the ones in whatever work of literature we're reading.

At present, that would be Their Eyes Were Watching God, a beautifully lyrical portrait of a woman who takes a long time to find happiness.  Midway through her second marriage, her husband sees some of his friends admiring her beautiful hair, and he reacts by ordering her to tie it up whenever she's around them.

"Do you think Joe did the right thing?" I ask.  Silence.  I remember that the average wait time is only three seconds, and I force myself to delay the second and third questions forming on my lips. "Was he trying to protect her, or trying to control her?"  "Do you think Janie realizes why he's forcing her to do this?"

They continue to flip through the pages, eyes downcast for fear I'll think they have an answer.  Finally a light dawns:

"What if your parents found themselves in a similar situation?  Another guy was admiring your mom too closely?  How do you think your dad would deal with it?"

The silence continues, but it's taken on a distinctly different tone.  Finally a reluctant student opens her mouth.

"I don't want to think about anyone hitting on my mom.  That's gross."

"Ew, I know!" they all agree, and chatter breaks out like an epidemic.

Well, at least they're talking, I think to myself as the discussion degenerates into general giggling.  Note to self: Find more age-appropriate behavior models.