Comparing Texts Primal Screen
Essay by Ellen Goodman
Short Story by Ray Bradbury Found online @ http://mikejmoran.typepad.com/files/pedestrian-bybradbury-1.pdf Short Animated Film @ http://www.ianmack.com/videos/the-pedestrian-raybradbury/ Online Reading: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSQ8h7jjOo
Advertisement Additional Resource: Commercial for one of the world’s first remote controls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDbLC1Cjpek
Essential Question: Could you live without television? Common Core Standards: RL.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; RI. 2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details RI.4 Determine the connotative meaning of words as they are used in a text RI.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined. L.4 Determine the meaning of multiple meaning words.
Introduction: According to the Washington State Department of Education, the average adolescent aged 9-14 spend over 20 percent of waking hours watching television, compared to 9 percent on hobbies and 3.5 percent on homework. Some research shows the average viewing time of the American child between six and sixteen years of age is twenty to twenty-four hours a week. In this lesson, you will read about the problems that are associated with watching too much television. You will read an essay, a short story, and view an advertisement that explores the topic of watching television. Making the Connection: How much television do you watch? Does it cut into time that you should be spending on homework, hobbies, healthy activities, or time with family and friends? With a classmate, discuss the role television plays in your life and what your life would be like if you gave television up? Could you go a whole week without the television? Are you up to the challenge? Analyzing the Text: Writer’s Main Message In this lesson you are going to works of social criticism. Social criticism is literature that addresses real-life issues-political, religious, economic, and social. Both the essay and the short story comment on the same topic, the impact of television on viewers, but they have different messages. They share their message, or central idea, through different methods as well. As you read, focus on determining each writer’s message by paying close attention to the following hints:
In the Essay
In the short story
-direct statements -facts, statistics, and additional evidence, such as a description of people’s behavior and interactions -explanations of causes and effects -word choice -tone -the writer’s call to action at the end of the essay
-setting and imagery -mood, sensory details, and word choice -characters -dialogue -plot, particularly the conflict and its resolution -the lesson or moral that you gain from the story
Strategies for Reading: Setting a Purpose for Reading When you identify specific goals for reading, you are setting a purpose for your reading. For instance, after reading the next two texts, you’ll be required to compare and contrast them. You’ll also be required to answer a short constructed response question, including one that requires cross-textual synthesis. Thus, you will want to set some goals for your reading: Determine each writers message or central idea Identify the similarities and differences in the two messages and how each message is developed and shaped by details Identify evidence to support your final conclusions
Think about how you will go about accomplishing these goals. Will you keep track of similarities and differences as your read? Will you try and determine each writer’s main message first and then go back to find evidence? A great way to stay organized and meet your goals is to take notes and use graphic organizers.
Primal Screen by Ellen Goodman Close Read Analyze Visuals: What are your impressions of these children in this photograph?
Someday, I would like to see a television series about a family that sites around the set watching a series about a family that site around the set. It might not make the Nielsen top ten, But that isn’t such a strange idea. Especially when you think about what is going on right now.
Night after night, inside the tube, warm and wiggly families spend their prime time “communicating” like crazy and “solving problems” together like mad. Meanwhile, outside the tube, real families sit and wait for a commercial break just to talk to each other. About the only subject that never comes up before our glazed eyes is what the medium does to our family life. But, I suppose we already know that. According to recent Gallup Poll, television comes out as a major heavy in our family lives. On the scale of problems, TV didn’t rate as bad as inflation, but it ran neck-and-neck with unemployment. According to a recent Roper Poll, it even causes fights. When people were asked what husbands and wives argued about, money as the champion. But television was a strong contender. Considering how much more time we spend in front of the tube that may not be such a shock. To certain extent, we blame the programs. In the Gallup Poll, for example, people worried about the overemphasis on sex and violence. But surely half of those e fights between husbands and wives must be about more fundamental issue of turning it off. Deep down below out poll-taking consciousness, we know that the worst aspect of our addiction isn’t what’s on TV, but how long the TV is on. We can’t help but be aware of what happens when we spend more time facing the screen than facing each other. In that same Gallup Poll, a large number of us said that the way to improve family life is by sharing – sharing family needs, recreational activities and chores. But when you are watching, you aren’t doing. I am absolutely convinced that the average wife feels tuned out by the twelfth consecutive weekend sports event because she is being tuned out. The average kid develops that distant, slack-jawed, hypnotic, hooked stare because he or she is hooked.
Writer’s Message: Reread the bolded lines. What issue doe the author introduce by contrasting sitcom families and real life ones?
Common Core RI.4 – Slang Slang is informal, sometimes made-up words that substitute for formal words. Reread the bolded paragraph above and these bolded sentences. What does the word tube refer to? Look tube up in a dictionary and try to figure out where its slang meaning comes from. Next, determine whether tube has a positive or negative connotation (feeling associated with a word) in the context of this essay.
In the same way, the people who spend night after night in front of the tube should worry about it. They’ve become an audience and not a family. Television simply represents us with one model of family life. Watching it makes us fit another model.
Writer’s Message: What is Goodman’s message about excessive TV viewing?
But the striking thing in all of this research about how we feel and behave is the role of choice. On the one hand, we have real anxiety about what TV’s doing to us. On the other hand, we allow it to happen. We choose to turn it on and each other off. We choose peace and quiet when we let the kids watch TV instead of running around the living room. We choose to “relax” in the semi-comatose slump. The average viewing time of the American child between six and sixteen years of age is twenty to twenty-four hours a week. A large percentage of parents place no restrictions on either the number of hours watch or the type of program viewed. At the very least, we behave as if we were powerless to wrench each other away. I grant you that there are a lot of things that touch on our families that are totally out of our individual control. We can’t regulate foreign affairs. We can’t set the price for oil. But a television set has dial and a plug. And we have hands. It is absurd to let our feelings of impotence in the world start creeping onto our private lives. Just once, we ought to create a private show about a real-life family who kicked the habit.
Common Core RI.2 Writers Message The writer reveals her message through strong statements of opinion – how she personally feels about people’s TV habits. Opinions are either substantiated (supported by facts)
The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury Close Read Analyze Visuals: What detail is this painting helps to create a somber mood?
To enter out into that silence that was the city at eight o'clock of a misty evening in November, to put your feet upon that buckling concrete walk, to step over grassy seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences, that was what Mr. Leonard Mead most dearly loved to do. He would stand upon the corner of an intersection and peer down long moonlit avenues of sidewalk in four directions, deciding which way to go, but it really made no difference; he was alone in this world of A.D. 2053, or as good as alone, and with a final decision made, a path selected, he would stride off, sending patterns of frosty air before him like the smoke of a cigar. Sometimes he would walk for hours and miles and return only at midnight to his house. And on his way he would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows, and it was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows. Sudden gray phantoms seemed to manifest upon inner room walls where a curtain was still undrawn against the night, or there were whisperings and murmurs where a window in a tomblike building was still open. Mr. Leonard Mead would pause, cock his head, listen, look, and march on, his feet making no noise on the lumpy walk. For long ago he had wisely changed to sneakers when strolling at night, because the dogs in intermittent squads would parallel his journey with barkings if he wore hard heels, and lights might click on and faces appear and an entire street be startled by the passing of a lone figure, himself, in the early November evening. On this particular evening he began his journey in a westerly direction, toward the hidden sea. There was a good crystal frost in
Writer’s Message Reread the bolded paragraph. What do the imagery and the figurative language in this passage suggest about Bradbury’s ideas on watching television?
the air; it cut the nose and made the lungs blaze like a Christmas tree inside; you could feel the cold light going on and off, all the branches filled with invisible snow. He listened to the faint push of his soft shoes through autumn leaves with satisfaction, and whistled a cold quiet whistle between his teeth, occasionally picking up a leaf as he passed, examining its skeletal pattern in the infrequent lamplights as he went on, smelling its rusty smell. "Hello, in there," he whispered to every house on every side as he moved. "What's up tonight on Channel 4, Channel 7, Channel 9? Where are the cowboys rushing, and do I see the United States Cavalry over the next hill to the rescue?" The street was silent and long and empty, with only his shadow moving like the shadow of a hawk in midcountry. If he closed his eyes and stood very still, frozen, he could imagine himself upon the center of a plain, a wintry, windless Arizona desert with no house in a thousand miles, and only dry river beds, the streets, for company. "What is it now?" he asked the houses, noticing his wrist watch. "Eight-thirty P.M.? Time for a dozen assorted murders? A quiz? A revue? A comedian falling off the stage?"
Clouds Over Alabama or Midnight in Alabama (1944) by Roger Brown
Was that a murmur of laughter from within a moon-white house? He hesitated, but went on when nothing more happened. He stumbled over a particularly uneven section of sidewalk. The cement was vanishing under flowers and grass. In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not once in all that time. He came to a cloverleaf intersection which stood silent where two main highways crossed the town. During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars, the gas stations open, a great insect rustling and a ceaseless jockeying for position as the scarab beetles, a faint incense puttering from their exhausts, skimmed homeward to the far directions. But nowhere highways, too, were like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon radiance. He turned back on a side street, circling around toward his home. He was within a block of his destination when the lone car turned a corner quite suddenly and flashed a fierce white cone of light upon him. He stood entranced, not unlike a night moth,
Common Core L.4 Multiple Meanings Words that have more than one definition are considered multiple meaning words. To determine a words appropriate meaning, you need to examine its context. For example, the word plain can mean “simple,” “clear,” or “large flat land.” Which of the definitions for plain best fits for the bolded sentence?
Writer’s Message Think about the reason why Mead never meets anyone on his nightly walks. How does this detail help you understand the author’s message?
stunned by the illumination, and then drawn toward it. A metallic voice called to him: "Stand still. Stay where you are! Don't move!" He halted. "Put up your hands!" "But-" he said.
"Your hands up! Or we'll Shoot!" The police, of course, but what a rare, incredible thing; in a city of three million, there was only one police car left, wasn't that correct? Ever since a year ago, 2052, the election year, the force had been cut down from three cars to one. Crime was ebbing; there was no need now for the police, save for this one lone car wandering and wandering the empty streets. "Your name?" said the police car in a metallic whisper. He couldn't see the men in it for the bright light in his eyes. "Leonard Mead," he said. "Speak up!" "Leonard Mead!" "Business or profession?" "I guess you'd call me a writer." "No profession," said the police car, as if talking to itself. The light held him fixed, like a museum specimen, needle thrust through chest. "You might say that,” said Mr. Mead. He hadn't written in years. Magazines and books didn't sell any more. Everything went on in the tomblike houses at night now, he thought, continuing his fancy. The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multicolored lights touching their faces, but never really touching them. "No profession," said the phonograph voice, hissing. "What are you doing out?" "Walking," said Leonard Mead. "Walking!" "Just walking," he said simply, but his face felt cold.
Writer’s Message Why does the voice reply “No profession” when Mead says he is a writer? What does that imply about this society? Explain.
"Walking, just walking, walking?" "Yes, sir." "Walking where? For what?" "Walking for air. Walking to see." "Your address!" "Eleven South Saint James Street." "And there is air in your house, you have an air conditioner, Mr. Mead?" "Yes." "And you have a viewing screen in your house to see with?" "No." "No?" There was a crackling quiet that in itself was an accusation. "Are you married, Mr. Mead?" "No." "Not married," said the police voice behind the fiery beam, The moon was high and clear among the stars and the houses were gray and silent. "Nobody wanted me," said Leonard Mead with a smile. "Don't speak unless you're spoken to!" Leonard Mead waited in the cold night. "Just walking, Mr. Mead?" "Yes." "But you haven't explained for what purpose." "I explained; for air, and to see, and just to walk." "Have you done this often?" "Every night for years."
Writer’s Message: Notice the voice’s reaction when Mead admits he does not have a viewing screen. How important is T.V. viewing to the people in this story? Explain.
The police car sat in the center of the street with its radio throat faintly humming. "Well, Mr. Mead," it said. "Is that all?" he asked politely. "Yes," said the voice. "Here." There was a sigh, a pop. The back door of the police car sprang wide. "Get in." "Wait a minute, I haven't done anything!" "Get in." "I protest!" "Mr. Mead." He walked like a man suddenly drunk. As he passed the front window of the car he looked in. As he had expected, there was no one in the front seat, no one in the car at all. "Get in." He put his hand to the door and peered into the back seat, which was a little cell, a little black jail with bars. It smelled of riveted steel. It smelled of harsh antiseptic; it smelled too clean and hard and metallic. There was nothing soft there. "Now if you had a wife to give you an alibi," said the iron voice. "But-"
Grammar and Style: Reread the bolded lines. Notice how Bradbury capitalizes the first word of every line of dialogue, even if it is a sentence fragment. The first word of any quotation should always be capitalized.
"Where are you taking me?" The car hesitated, or rather gave a faint whirring click, as if information, somewhere, was dropping card by punch-slotted card under electric eyes. "To the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies." He got in. The door shut with a soft thud. The police car rolled through the night avenues, flashing its dim lights ahead. They passed one house on one street a moment later, one house in an entire city of houses that were dark, but this one particular house had all of its electric lights brightly lit, every window a loud yellow illumination, square and warm in the cool darkness. "That's my house," said Leonard Mead. No one answered him. The car moved down the empty river-bed streets and off away, leaving the empty streets with the empty side-walks, and no sound and no motion all the rest of the chill November night.
Writer’s Message: What “crime” has Leonard Mead committed? Common Core RL.4 Repetition Repetition is the act of repeating a word, phrase, or sentence to emphasize an idea. Notice how empty is repeated in the last lines of the story. What idea is Bradbury trying to stress by repeating this word?
Analyzing an Advertistment Common Core Standard: RI. 7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums.
Directions: The essay and short story you just read explore the topic of television in different ways, but both texts communicate messages about excessive television watching. As you investigate the advertisement bleow, consider what message it is communicating. Infer: Why might someone find a remote control that can turn the TV off from across the room so appealing?
Assess: Why do you think the ad’s designer chose faces with such exaggerated expressions?
Evaluate: Are the reactions pictured and described in this ad the result you would expect from using the Zenith Space Command T.V. remote? Explain your answer.
After Reading Questions Common Core Standards: RL.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; RI. 2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details RI.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined.
1. 2. 3. 4.
Recall: Describe the city where Leonard Mead walks in “The Pedestrian.” Clarify: Why does Mead seem so suspicious to the police car? Clarify: In “Primal Screen,” what does Goodman urge Americans to do? Analyze Support: In “Primal Screen,” Goodman claims that the habit of television watching is a more serious problem than the content of the programs. What evidence does she present to support her claim? 5. Make Inferences: The title of Goodman’s essay, “Primal Screen,” is a pun, or a play on words. It refers to primal scream therapy, a type of treatment in which patients scream to vent their anger and frustrations. Why did Goodman choose this title? 6. Make Judgments: Of Leonard Mead’s many answers to the police car, which do you think gets him into the most trouble? Why? Explain? 7. Draw Conclusions about the Writer’s Message: Reread the lines below from “The Pedestrian.” Bradbury uses imagery and figurative language to describe the people of the future. In describing the future, what does he imply about the people of today? "You might say that,” said Mr. Mead. He hadn't written in years. Magazines and books didn't sell any more. Everything went on in the tomblike houses at night now, he thought, continuing his fancy. The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multicolored lights touching their faces, but never really touching them. .
8. Reflect on Purpose: Now that you have read each text, it is time to compare and contrast the writer’s messages, or central ideas. Writer your observations on a graphic organizer like the one below. Points of Comparison In the Essay In the Short Story What television is doing American society What is the writer’s focus What television watching is doing to in general family life
9. Enduring Understanding: Reread the essential question posed at the start of this lesson. Do you think television has a positive or negative effect on your life? How would your life be different if you were to eliminate T.V.? Do you think you could live without it?