[ Hauptseite | Roman | Arbeiten ]

It goes without saying that a literary text cannot be understood without its historical, social and cultural contexts. By using additional material it is possible for the foreign language teacher to influence the context of textual analysis to a considerable extent. What the implications for classroom procedure may be in the case of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five has been shown in the following contribution by Britta Zimmermann.

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five: Additional Material for a Teaching Unit Taken from Secondary Sources

Britta Zimmermann

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Additional material for a teaching unit
A. Extract from the essay "The First Amendment"

1. Interpretation
2. Didactic considerations and methodical procedure

B. "Address to P.E.N. Conference in Stockholm, 1973"

1. Interpretation
2. Didactic considerations and methodical procedure

C. Abridged version of the article "A Life for a Life"

1. Interpretation
2. Didactic considerations and methodical procedure

III. Conclusion

IV. Notes

V. Bibliography

VI. Appendix

I. Introduction

With its great variety of themes, Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five seems to be an unlimited source of issues that are of importance for members of class twelve or class thirteen, for instance violence, war, and the meaning of life. However, it is this diversity that requires dealing with additional material in order not to leave the student alone with those pressing questions Vonnegut raises in his novel. Deplorably, apart from von Ledebur’s edition of the novel, which includes some extracts from secondary sources but contains insufficient information on how to treat it in class, no other available source offers additional material and suggestions for classroom procedure
(1). That is the reason why the aim of this term paper basically is to satisfy the need for material taken from secondary sources, to prepare these texts for didactic purposes, and to find ways that enable students to approach the additional material and to cope with its contents. As this essay cannot claim to provide a detailed analysis of the suggested texts or to propose a complete teaching unit, it is supposed to be a stimulus for didactic procedure in class, which have been preceded by sufficient opportunities to analyse and interpret the primary text.

While the field of (creative) methods applicable to the basic literary forms dealt with in school is satisfactorily covered by advice from Brusch, Caspari, and Pulm, hardly anybody seems to notice the lack of appropriate instructions concerning how to treat non-literary texts practically in a way that arouses the students’ interest(2). Authors and editors either seem to be ignorant of the problem that concrete suggestions and adaptable bases are missing or lack in suggesting various didactic procedures that gratify the students’ need to contribute to foreign language lessons and train all of the four basic skills mentioned in the guidelines, namely reading, writing, listening, and speaking(3). Nonetheless, almost every didactician is likely to agree with the teaching objectives that are summarised in the book How to Analyse and Teach Non-Literary Texts:

      The global teaching objectives for students in higher education are the ability to describe non-literary       texts and to incorporate elements of the language in their own written production. More detailed       objectives are derived from the communication situation peculiar to non-literary texts:

            (i) Insights into the communication situation determining every non-literary text.
            (ii) The knowledge of and ability to assess strategies for encoding non-literary texts.
            (iii) The ability to differentiate between various types of non-literary texts and a knowledge of their             characteristic features(4).

Apart from the necessity that the additional material should contribute to achieving these teaching objectives, the choice of texts depends on the question which topics treated in the novel Slaughterhouse-Five appeal to the students’ lives as well as on the decision whether the texts are appropriate to discuss in class, that is, whether their diction is lexically and syntactically adequate and whether they offer opportunities for student-centred activities(5). Finally, the choice has mainly been influenced by the decision if the text satisfies the requirement for authenticity as this is said to be of great importance in class(6). The different suggestions for classroom procedure proposed in this paper are calculated to last about two or three lessons each. It applies to all of the texts that in exceptional cases the course should be allowed to fall back on the German language so as not to minimise the participants’ willingness to cope with the topic by a language barrier.

II. Additional Material for a Teaching Unit
A. An extract from the essay “The First Amendment”

1. Interpretation

In the seventies of the last century, Kurt Vonnegut’s Dresden novel was severely criticised and heavily attacked by legal guardians who considered the book Slaughterhouse-Five to be a danger to their children for several reasons. According to the Christian Century, two years after the novel was published

      a circuit court judge in Oakland county, Michigan, advised Rochester High School to ban a book       [Slaughterhouse-Five] approved by school officials — else he would order the book banned himself ...       Moore [the judge] handed down his decision after the father of a student brought suit against the high       school, charging that the book is antireligious(7).

The writer’s reaction to the banning is unknown. Containing a register apparently inadequate for students, thirty copies of Vonnegut’s novel were burnt in a high school in Drake, North Dakota, at the instance of the official school committee approximately two years later. As a reaction Kurt Vonnegut wrote a letter to the head of the school, which was published years after the destruction(8). On reflection two questions strike the reader: Why does Vonnegut feel insulted when learning about the incident in Drake? With regard to the incidents in Oakland and Drake, are there any special circumstances that justify his different reactions? His letter to the school headmaster offers answers to that.

All arguments Vonnegut gives in fact closely refer to the social and political function he ascribes to himself as a writer and as a member of American society. As the words “American” and “civilisation” are repeated etymologically and semantically, the question arises which definition of being “a good citizen”(9) and of behaving in an “ignorant, harsh, un-American manner”(10) - as he accuses the school committee to have done - serves as a basis for his discussion. Vonnegut’s understanding of a patriotic American is not based upon the widely-spread assumption that citizens have to fight for their country actively. As the title of the essay in which the letter was published says, Vonnegut refers to a definition of the expression “American” in the most original meaning of the word, which is implied in the Declaration of Independence:

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their       Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”(11).

From the critical statement Vonnegut makes in the essay “The First Amendment”, namely that the freedom of speech in America is restricted frequently, you can infer that he sees the unalienable right of liberty violated in two respects here(12): for one thing, the prohibition of reading a book means a restriction of the students’ freedom; for another, the burning of the novel Slaughterhouse-Five means a violation of the basic principles of the United States, since Vonnegut is not permitted to allow the students access to his ideas, and hence, his personal freedom of speech is considerably restricted. From these two aspects he draws the conclusion: “If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own(13).”

It is the personal style that shows how much the writer has internalised the duty of an American citizen. Apart from the frequent trivial syntax and the simple register, which both on the fictional and on the non-fictional level function as a means of reaching a wide audience, he constantly uses personal pronouns of the first person singular, which prove how much he considers himself involved in the task to defend the ideas of the Declaration of Independence(14). Simultaneously, with regard to the following quotation from an interview, it becomes clear why the burning of his novel turns out to be a personal insult: “I agree with Stalin and Hitler and Mussolini that the writer should serve his society. ... Mainly, I think they should be – and biologically have to be – agents of change(15).”

While writing appears to be a predestination in order to make the national and international societies aware of deplorable states of affairs, the school board committee challenges not only Vonnegut’s professional function but also a part of his individual and private sphere, as it is directly connected to the professional one. This interdependence becomes clear by his complaint to the headmaster that the incident shows “that books and writers are very unreal to you people(16).” While the intention Vonnegut tries to convey with the help of his texts is ignored, and therefore, the validity of his thoughts and his person is, generally speaking, denied by the act of burning his work, in outlining his biography, in emphasising his indifference to prosperity, and in mentioning his dealings with youngsters, he tries to explain the seriousness of his intention(17). However, due to the fact that the school committee obviously have not read the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, the thesis the writer puts forward in the novel, namely the thesis of his book being useless, is revealed as true once again(18). Consequently, it is almost impossible to break through the chain of ignorance, the lack of responsibility, and the ambition to become powerful. The burning in Drake thus confirms the pessimism the writer gives expression to in the address to the graduating class at Bennington College in 1970, in which he makes the Second World War and Hiroshima responsible for his negative attitude:

      “Hey, Corporal Vonnegut,” I said to myself, “maybe you were wrong to be an optimist. Maybe pessimism       is the thing.” I have been a consistent pessimist ever since ... My wife begged me to bring you light, but there       is no light. Everything is going to become unimaginably worse, and never get better again(19).

Besides the aspects set out above, it verges on the absurd that a text with its central theme World War Two has to bear what German as well as foreign literature had to endure on May 10th, 1933, before the Second World War broke out, namely the burning of books as a demonstration of power. Donald Veix speculates:

      Slaughterhouse Five, like great satires, holds a mirror up to our society and the image is repulsive. We are       Americans in the book, but we are also Germans and Western man ... Perhaps censors sense (!) the subtle       criticisms but find the dirty words and explicit sexual references easier targets towards which to rally the       book burners. Attacking the subtleties might be an admission that flaws really exist(20).

Certainly Vonnegut had the same idea when learning that his book was burnt. The action probably recalled the burning in 1933 and the “Feuersprüche”, which were supposed to justify the action as well as, from the school committee’s point of view, might have been supposed to justify the burning in Drake in parts(21). As a pessimist and an “alarm system [ ]”(22) for society, Kurt Vonnegut was induced to write the letter by his recollection and his inevitable aversion against war so as to make the citizens of Drake aware of possible consequences of their action.

2. Didactic considerations and methodical procedure

As the experience of the Second World War has shown, reading, as well as censorship, may have a profound impact on our political, psychological, and social development. It is therefore almost unavoidable to deal with the phenomenon of censorship when discussing the novel Slaughterhouse-Five so as to make the students aware of the discrepancy between theoretical literary freedom and practical realisation of it. In order to limit the students’ dealing with this particular text to three lessons for motivational reasons, the following steps one to four should be dealt with as exhaustively as necessary and as shortly as possible.

First of all, in addition to mentioning Vonnegut’s exemplary function in the 1970s, the teacher should inform the class about the fact that Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five - besides other literature - was not only banned from schools in the seventies but also takes 28th place in the list of the most frequently banned books in the 1990s(23). According to Lothar Bredella, in formulating spontaneous reactions and speculations about supposed arguments for and against censoring the novel, the students have now the chance to resume their previous knowledge, to seek for possible reasons for the banning with the help of the novel, and to become aware of their own expectations(24). This can be carried out in a talk with the teacher as well as in small groups of three or four students, in which they may write down their reactions and thoughts on pieces of paper. Admittedly, Bredella confines the procedure of eliciting responses to the fictional text Slaughterhouse-Five, but it is also desirable, as Karl-Erhart Schuhmacher points out(25), when it comes to non-fictional texts.

Afterwards, the course participants are asked to read the text and to consult a dictionary in case of unknown vocabulary or structures as a homework task. In addition, the teacher should ask them to list up all arguments for and against the banning of the novel mentioned in Vonnegut’s letter in their own words. In doing so, the pupils basically have to tackle the structure, and, what is more, they have to face the question whether they have actually understood the text. If there are any difficulties left concerning the textual comprehension despite the rather simple vocabulary, the teacher should clarify the pupils’ problems to ensure the imperative foundation for an adequate discussion(26). While collecting the arguments on the board, the students have the chance to compare their expectations, that is, their speculations about possible reasons, to the actual arguments and to express spontaneous objections and counterarguments, which might be a useful basis for a later discussion.

As a next step the teacher should ask the students to identify the predominant world field by searching for conspicuous repetitions in order to familiarise the pupils with Vonnegut’s definition of being an American. After collecting the words in the letter that belong with the semantic field “America” on a transparency together in class, the students can draw a general conclusion concerning the question what Vonnegut considers to be “American” with the help of the quotation from the Declaration of Independence mentioned above. Thus, the basis for an absorbed discussion of Vonnegut’s understanding of what an American writer is is established simultaneously, as his definition of a true American is a precondition for his understanding of his role as an American author. In this context the students become aware of the fact that Vonnegut feels insulted, because he does not separate his professional life from his private life.

The students then have the opportunity to make use of the questions that have remained unanswered during the analysis of the letter with their classmates. Besides the didactic thesis that spontaneous oral abilities have to be supported, talking freely and tackling problems independently are considered to be of great importance in the syllabus guidelines(27). As a preparation for a simulated press-conference, the class members form groups that represent Kurt Vonnegut and his publisher, the school committee, the students of the high school in Drake, and the students’ parents(28). The participants who remain without a role can take over the journalists’ positions by thinking of reasonable questions that have not been answered in the letter, whereas another willing class member is asked to lead the discussion, that is, to ensure everybody’s right to set forth his or her view without being interrupted. The objection Werlich lodges with regard to such ways of proceeding, however, cannot be completely ignored:

      Und was die freieren Gesprächsformen betrifft, von denen gesagt wird, hier erhöhe sich durch       partnerschaftliche Arbeitsformen der Sprechanteil doch erheblich, so wird nicht bedacht, daß ein Schüler       zum Gebrauch der Fremdsprache auch Vorbilder für die Rollenidentifikation braucht. Er braucht einen       Gesprächspartner, der ihn sprachlich nach oben zieht(29).

Nevertheless, the aspect that this kind of lesson does not occur permanently in class as well as the fact that working in a small group of equal members provides the opportunity to overcome psychological blocking relativises Werlich’s objection. As to the problem of how to correct errors, Maria and Werner Kieweg suggest the teacher’s taking down common errors and confer on them together with all participants afterwards(30).In case of lexical problems, the teacher should offer the students help by encouraging them to paraphrase the missing expressions, by providing dictionaries for independent working, or, as a last resort, by writing the English equivalent on the board for everybody to see.

B. “Address to P.E.N. Conference in Stockholm, 1973”

1. Interpretation

The peculiarity of the available address lies in the nearly antithetical statements of the first part, the content of which Vonnegut summarises in an anaphoric parallelism, and of the second part, whose content is not intended for the public(31). In complaining that writers are generally ignored, whereas teachers who use literary texts in school are often criticised, he verbalises his growing frustration and pessimism that is also discernible in the letter to the headmaster of the high school in Drake, since Vonnegut suffers from a distance that is typical of the relationship between reader and writer(32). Besides stylistically simple enumerations and a frequently paratactic syntax, the author intensifies the reader’s impression of his own disillusion and cynicism by the deliberate recitation of the children’s poem:
“Sticks and stones
May break my bones,
But words can never hurt me(33).”

In mentioning that he learnt the verses in his early childhood, Vonnegut supports and justifies his pessimism, for this fact suggests that the conviction that physical violence takes precedence over verbal utterances is transferred even to the youngest citizens of the United States. As they are almost denied to learn the significance and influence written and spoken words may have, since these features of language are generally denied by the older generations, children unavoidably internalise the importance of physical strength and take it for granted that violence is the only way of arguing. Formally, the poem thus optimises the persuasiveness of the first part of the speech. The repetition of the rhyme and the substitution of the noun “word”(34) by the central expression “fiction”(35), for one thing, make the listener internalise the poem and its content and, for another, put emphasis on the pretended fact that fiction in particular has no meaning or function, as the unsuccessful protest against the Vietnam War has proved(36). Kurt Vonnegut hence pleads for global freedom of speech as he did before in the letter to the inhabitants of Drake.

The mere use of the address “for you, my colleagues”(37) and the predominant use of the pronoun of the first person in the plural in the second part of the speech - in contrast to the accumulation of the non-directive pronoun of the third person plural in the preceding part - allow the listener to assume that Vonnegut distances himself from the opinion he pretends to hold first. While he denies his own person and his function in the foregoing part when he denies the effectiveness of his own products, in using the metaphor of “poison[ing] the minds of thousands and perhaps millions of American young people”(38), he ascribes a significant purpose to literature and writers, as it is possible only for them to draw attention to factors in society that are considered to be worthy of improvement(39). With the carefully chosen word “poison” denoting a generally negative feature of the writer’s task, Kurt Vonnegut simultaneously implies that writers are regarded as outsiders in the United States.

The inescapable question why it is especially the young people whose awareness he wants to raise when it comes to showing that other forms of solving problems than violence exist is answered in the last two paragraphs. According to Vonnegut, adults persistently live up to the ideals and values they internalised in their youth, while youngsters have not yet become staunch in their way of living and can be influenced by those “myths”(40) of pacifism and the equality of man Vonnegut and other authors disseminate(41).

Furthermore, a closer examination of the extended metaphor of the “huge organism”(42) mankind gives information about Vonnegut’s understanding of community. The biological system organism is mainly characterised by (1) a certain interdependence of the cells in the organism, (2) a basic equality of every cell, (3) the permanent contact between different types of cells, and (4) the natural determination of the function of every cell. Since - as the metaphor suggests in a figurative sense - all human beings depend on each other and, consequently, are incapable of carrying out those tasks others have to fulfil, all members of society assume the responsibility for themselves as well as for every other fellow man(43). In connection with the natural restriction of every human being’s function, Vonnegut concurrently justifies his demand of a general freedom of fiction writers mentioned in the first part of the address, since in case of a limitation of their personal freedom, no other person would be capable of fulfilling their function of making “mankind aware of itself ...”(44) and of dreaming “its dreams”(45) , which might have devastating consequences for society. In consideration of the fact that a permanent contact of cells is required in an organism so as to keep up its existence, the reader or listener draws the conclusion that an author is characterised by participating in ‘simple’ people’s everyday life rather than by living isolated from the common population in order to respond “symbolically to life”(46) and to “sound the alarms”(47) in case of societal danger(48). The repetition of the word “dream”(49) four times eventually underlines Vonnegut’s thesis, as it inevitably suggests the content of the American Dream of Vonnegut’s time, that is, the American Dream of all citizens living in peace and equality. However, when emphasising that the organism mankind is a “single”(50) one, Vonnegut broadens this dream in favour of an international dream and indirectly claims the universality of his aims in front of an international audience(51).

2. Didactic considerations and methodical procedure

In consideration of Benz’s results that the possibilities of different media have not been exhausted yet despite the existence of various types of learners, it is ideal in this case to present the first part of Vonnegut’s address twice on cassette spoken by a native speaker in order to train the students’ listening comprehension and to create the maximum of authenticity that can be achieved when dealing with a speech in class(52). After the teacher and the class have checked the textual comprehension by a short oral summary of the central statements, the first part of the speech has been handed out and possible vocabulary questions have been answered, if the students have not yet thought about a possible extension, the teacher should provoke them to write a reasonable follow-up text at home, as the remark “[t]hus ends the public part of my speech”(53) clearly indicates that the speech is certainly to be continued(54). The attention the students have to pay and the skills they have to develop when continuing the address is comparable to the competence Heuer and Steinmann describe with regard to the task to rewrite Robert Coover’s story The Wayfarer:

      Bevor der Leser damit beginnt, die Geschichte neu zu schreiben, muß er sich den genauen faktischen,       psychologischen und emotionalen Ablauf des Geschehens klarmachen ... Es bleibt auf keinen Fall bei einer       passiven Rezeption des Textes. Es muß sehr genau gelesen, hinterfragt und interpretiert werden“(55).

In addition to following the structure of argumentation in Vonnegut’s speech, firstly, the students have to find answers to the question why the intention of the first part of the speech is contradictory to the intention of the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, secondly, they have to voice a possible contrast to the statement before, because they have to guess what Vonnegut might have to tell his colleagues in private, and, thirdly, they have to internalise Vonnegut’s style to produce an adequate extension (56).

While several participants are presenting their follow-up texts of the address, the teacher is taking down characteristic features and parts of the contents of their different extensions on the board. Now the students are asked to discuss the likeliness or unlikeliness of specific endings on the basis of the key words and to substantiate their claims with their knowledge of the novel and in consideration of the characteristic structure of the address. After discussing different possibilities, the course members are to read the second part of the text. The obligatory procedure of textual comprehension is followed by a comparison between the actual ending and the follow-up texts the students wrote to give them the chance to verify and falsify their assumptions. As far as the extended metaphor of the organism is concerned, which is to decode after the class dealt with the metaphor of poisoning, the distinction between the different levels of analysis and interpretation and the interpretation itself will be easier for the participants if the teacher makes a simplified sketch of a biological organism available on a transparency: this will help the students to carry out and to comprehend the transfer from the factual level to the metaphorical level of meaning, which they often consider to be problematic and difficult. With regard to this procedure, it might not be too difficult for them to point out the author’s function in society and its consequences as it is set out above.

C. Abridged version of the article “A Life for a Life”

1. Interpretation

In reporting the murder of a black man called James Byrd, Jr., from racist motives and different people’s reactions to the murderer John William King’s being sentenced to death, Adam Cohen, the author of the article “A Life for a Life”, takes up the biblical motto “an eye for an eye” and discusses the colour problem in the United States with slight differences to the way Kurt Vonnegut does in his novel Slaughterhouse-Five. The fact that the article was written in 1999 illustrates that even today the subject has not lost anything of its topicality.

Cohen’s text treats the burning question of compensation for atrocities and death by means of vengeance in a way that differs radically from Vonnegut’s statement. In contrast to Vonnegut’s emphasising his general peaceable attitude by having chosen the topic of war in his novel and speeches, Adam Cohen evaluates death basically in two different ways when he connects James Byrd’s death with negatively connotated expressions like “barbaric”(57) or “heinous crime”(58), both of which support the impression of death and murder being abominable. On the other hand, John William King’s death sentence is undoubtedly considered to be a progressive action of “justice”(59), which to some extent compensates for Byrd’s murder and, in addition to Byrd’s death, helps to overcome general race barriers(60).

The only person who questions the ethic incontestability of the verdict quoted in the article is Diane Domenech, who, however, immediately plays down her doubts in her further statement: “’I hate to say people were happy, but they were, … and everyone’s just as happy as the next one at what happened’”(61). Notwithstanding the restricted perspective the author of the text creates by not quoting opponents of capital punishment, there is no denying that the population’s appreciation of the verdict actually existed. You can infer the general uncritical view of capital punishment in larger parts of the United States of America from the one-sidedness of the report and the citizens’ reactions that are mentioned in the article. In applauding the verdict, the “onlookers”(62) in Jasper expose themselves as a part of film and theatre industry Cohen uses as a means of introduction at the beginning of his article, an observation, which again refers back to the criticism Vonnegut expresses in his novel, namely the common conscious or unconscious attitude that death often serves as entertainment and satisfaction for a consumer society.

In the novel this criticism among other things is expressed by Valencia’s pride of her husband’s former partaking in war and, above all, by Ronald Weary’s satisfaction by imagining the worst way to die of all: (63)

      Weary told Billy about neat tortures he’d read about or seen in the movies or heard in the radio?about       other neat tortures he himself had invented ... He asked Billy what he thought the worst form of execution       was ... The correct answer turned out to be this: “You stake a guy out on an anthill in the desert? see?       He’s facing upward, and you put honey all over his balls and pecker, and you cut off his eyelids so he has to       stare at the sun till he dies”(64).

In a further respect the conclusion that “the past isn’t dead; it’s not even the past”(65) quoted by Cohen turns out to be true. Just as Vonnegut broaches the topic of racism in the novel Slaughterhouse-Five when describing Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, so the author of the article reminds his readership of the nasty tradition of killing blacks by explaining the action and function of lynching(66). At the same time, it appears to be impossible to eliminate the roots of racism, as the author and the reader become aware of the fact that parts of the past, present, and future generations were, have been, and will be willing to stir up hatred against blacks and to live up to their conviction of supremacy (67).

However, in contrast to Vonnegut, who does not believe in a change of the deplorable state of affairs due to man’s lack of insight(68), Cohen signals a slight optimism in describing that after the atrocity the inhabitants of Jasper symbolically destroyed the cemetery fence in the town, which had been separating blacks and whites for decades, and in quoting Unav Wade: “’It’s [The incident in Jasper] changed people.’”(69)

2. Didactic considerations and methodical procedure

Although cruel in some passages, the article can be quite useful in the English lesson, because it clearly demonstrates that Kurt Vonnegut’s novel does not deal with themes and problems which are unique only to the particular contemporary situation. At the same time, it meets the general requirement for providing the pupils with genuine information on the societal and historical context of the foreign culture.(70)

The fact that Byrd’s individual fate attracts students more than a mass fate additionally forces them to reflect on their own reactions critically when grappling with the article. Since it deplorably needs shortening due to prior commitments, those passages are abridged that, for one thing, contain detailed descriptions without providing important information and, for another, inform the reader about aspects that do not directly refer to the novel Slaughterhouse-Five and its central themes in order to make the text accessible and as authentic as possible under these circumstances. As to the annotations, which are necessary because the article here and there contains English expressions that are too specific and complicated for contextual guessing, they are exclusively taken from the Dictionary of Contemporary English. With its “every definition expressed within a vocabulary of around two thousand basic and familiar words”(71), it guarantees an understanding of the main aspects of the text.

Buttjes’s argumentation in favour of the interdependence between the foreign culture and the familiar culture suggests that - especially when it comes to sensitive subjects like death and racism - the teacher has to offer the students the opportunity to broach the topics by connecting their own lives with the foreign culture(72). It is therefore a reasonable approach to ask the class participants to write a story, a fictitious diary entry, a letter, a short drama, a poem, a film scene, or a newspaper article with the help of the key words “stranger”, “discrimination”, and “death” as a homework. Additionally, the students learn the headline “A Life for a Life” and Germany as the setting of their texts. If members feel unable to cope with creative writing, they can alternatively bring pictures drawn either by other persons or by themselves or a piece of music that, to their mind, fits to the headline and keywords, and a written comment why they have chosen those specific items. Besides the great diversity of material, the advantage of the students’ chance to approach the subject according to their individual abilities, experiences, and preferences can hardly be overestimated. As this homework may require personal involvement--because the pupils probably include their own experience with racism--, the step should only be carried out if the atmosphere in class in general is genial and relaxed .

When the course members have presented their results and collected significant features derived from their own texts on the board, the teacher distributes the text. After the common procedure of reading it silently, clarifying textual difficulties - for example in a talk with another member and, later, with the teacher -, and checking the textual comprehension, the course is subdivided into two groups, one of which is to write down passages and key words of the text that shed a light on the depiction of Byrd’s death on a length of wallpaper, while the second group is to investigate the description of King’s death. The introduction of the two lengths of wallpaper can be connected not only with a direct comparison between the different manners of representation but also with their own written products. The students then take notice of the differences and are able to reflect critically on capital punishment in exchanging arguments in favour of and against it.

Additionally, the teacher should draw their attention to the spectators’ behaviour and to the attributes that are ascribed to them in general. When the students point out the effect of the vocabulary belonging with the semantic field of film and theatre, they can connect the article with the novel in order to answer the question whether Vonnegut’s statement expressed in the article coincides with Adam Cohen’s in a discussion in class. In this context the problematic nature of the colour problem can also be taken up when the teacher paves the way by drawing the students’ attention to the different persons and times that are mentioned in connection with the topic. The pupils are now able to become aware of similarities and differences of the writers’ perspectives and can make use of the thoughts they had when doing the homework task.

III. Conclusion

As the reader will probably have noticed, the wide range of additional material from secondary sources for classroom activities in connection with the novel Slaughterhouse-Five is not exhausted by the chosen texts and the proposed classroom procedures. Although the essay offers a basic idea and a depiction of how the material can be treated in class, it has to be clearly emphasised that in case of realising those methodical suggestions teachers always have to take the specific situation of the individual course into consideration, and they have to adapt those procedures in favour of the students’ needs wherever it is possible. In doing so, it is imperative that all pupils be allowed to contribute to the lesson by uttering their own ideas and reactions to the texts. Only then have both the course members and the teaching staff the chance to change the usually artificial classroom atmosphere into an atmosphere that motivates the participants to improve and develop their individual linguistic skills and socio-critical abilities.

IV. Notes

(1)  Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Slaughterhouse-Five, ed. Ruth Freifrau von Ledebur (Berlin: Cornelsen, 2nd ed., 1993).

(2) Wilfried Brusch, "Vom Lesen zum Schreiben: 'Dependent Authorship," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 25 (1992): 36-41. - Daniela Caspari, "Übersicht über kreative Umgangsformen mit literarischen Texten," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 31 (1997): 44-45. - Manfred Pulm, "Anregungen zu spielerisch-kreativem Umgang mit literarischen Texten", Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 25 (1992): 31-35.

(3) Egon Werlich, Praktische Methodik des Fremdsprachenunterrichts mit authentischen Texten (Berlin: Cornelsen, 1989). - Detlef and Margaret von Ziegesar, How to Analyse and Teach Non-Literary Texts, Scriptor Taschenbücher 135 (Königstein: Scriptor, 1979). Ministerium für Schule und Weiterbildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen ed., Richtlinien und Lehrpläne für die Sekundarstufe II - Gymnasium/Gesamtschule in Nordrhein-Westfalen: Englisch, Schriftenreihe Schule in NRW 4704 (Frechen: Ritterbach, 1999), 54.

(4)  Von Ziegesar, 11-12.

(5)  Dieter Buttjes, "Lernziel Kulturkompetenz," Englischunterricht: Grundlagen und Methoden einer handlungsorientierten Praxis , eds. Gerhard Bach and Johannes-Peter Timm, Uni-Taschenbücher 1540 (Tübingen: Franke, 1989), 87.

(6)  Stuart Amor, "Authenticity in the Language Classroom," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch 33 (1999): 7.

(7) "The Banning of Billy Pilgrim," 2 June 1971: 681.

(8)  Donald B. Veix, "Teaching a Censored Novel: Slaughterhouse-Five," English Journal 64 (1975): 27. - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Welcome to the Monkey House (London: Vintage, 1994), 316: Vonnegut claims that the only offensive word in the novel is "motherfucker".

(9)  The extract from Vonnegut's essay "The First Amendment" (in the following referred to as "FA" may be found in von Ledebur's didactic edition, which has already been been quoted above: Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five (Berlin: Cornelsen, 2nd ed., 1993), pp. 256-257. The first quotation may be found on p. 257, l. 26. In the following notes, references to pages as well as to lines are given, which is meant to facilitate the reader's orientation.

(10)  "FA", p. 257, l. 8.

(11)  Thomas Jefferson, The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Representative Selections, American Heritage Ser. 9 (New York: Liberal Arts, 1955), 3. Although in his essay Vonnegut explicitly refers to the First Amendment, it will be neglected here in favour of the more famous passage of the Declaration of Independence, which some of the students are likely to recall.

(12)  Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House, 316 and 319.

(13)  "FA", p. 257, ll. 17-18.

(14)  Jerome Klinkowitz, "Vonnegut in America," Vonnegut in America: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Kurt Vonnegut, eds. Jerome Klinkowitz and Donald L. Lawler (New York: Dell, 1997), 8. - William Rodney Allan, Understanding Kurt Vonnegut (Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1990), 8.

(15) Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons: Essays (London: J. Cape, 1975), 237.

(16)  "FA", p. 256, l. 7.

(17)  "FA", p. 256, ll. 21-34 and ll. 9-15.

(18) Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 15.

(19)  Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 162.

(20)  Veix, 26.

(21) Those "Feuersprüche" are, for instance: "Gegen Dekadenz und moralischen Verfall!"; "Gegen Verfälschung unserer Geschichte und Herabwürdigung ihrer großen Gestalten, für Ehrfurcht vor unserer Vergangenheit!"; "Gegen literarischen Verrat am Soldaten des Weltkrieges! ... "Gegen dünkelhafte Verhunzung der ... Sprache, " Birgit Ebbert, Homepage, 9 Feb. 2002.
cf. http://www.buecherverbrennung.de/_Feuerspruche_/_feuerspruche_.html

(22)  Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 238.

(23)  Peter Freese, "Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)," Der Roman im Englischunterricht der Sekundarstufe II: Theorie und Praxis, Informationen zur Sprach- und Literaturdidaktik 11, eds. Peter Freese and Liesel Hermes (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2nd. ed.1981), 413. - Gemkow, Frank. Homepage, 10 Jan. 2002.
cf. http://members.tripod.de/FrankGemkow/konkret/novel/jds/banned.htm

(24)  Lothar Bredella, "How to Elicit Responses to Literary Texts: Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five as a Literary Text and as a Historical Document," Teaching Contemporary American Life and Literature in the German Advanced EFL Classroom: Proceedings of the Third Conference of the German Association for American Studies on the Didactics of American Studies, ed. Peter Freese (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1985), 64.

(25)  Karl-Erhard Schuhmacher, "Texterschließung - Textproduktion - Textgespräch," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 16 (1982): 307.

(26)  Von Ziegesar, 12.

(27)  Maria and Werner Kieweg, "Praxiserprobte Dialogtechniken," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch 34 (2000): 17. - Richtlinien XIII.

(28)  During this phase the students have the chance to touch on the parallel to the burning in the year 1933 and to work their reflections on it into their argumentation. A detailed discussion of the connection between the incidents in Germany and in Drake in class would interrupt the logical train of thought so that it is neglected here.

(29)  Werlich, 46.

(30)  Kieweg, 18.

(31)  The complete text of Vonnegut's "Address to P.E.N. Conference in Stockholm" (in the following referred to as "APC") may be found in the anthology already quoted: Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons: Essays (London: J. Cape, 1975), pp. 253-257. Textual references again will refer to pages and to lines. A copy of this edition may be found in the English Department of Münster university (shelfmark: AR 8750/825). Among other things Vonnegut maintains that "fiction is harmless. Fiction is so much hot air". Cf. "APC", p. 254, ll.19-20. The first part ends with the provocative statement: "Thus ends the public part of my speech." Cf. "APC", p. 255, l. 14.

(32)  See also Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House, 427.

(33)  "APC", p. 254, ll. 7-9.

(34)  "APC", p. 254, l. 9

(35)  "APC", p. 255, l. 13

(36)  The impression is supported when he compares the effect of literature to the power of a hydrogen bomb with "the explosive force of a very large banana-cream pie", which is tantamount to no effect at all. Cf. "APC", p. 254, l. 28.

(37)  "APC", p. 255, l. 15.

(38)  "APC", p. 255, ll. 19-20.

(39)  In the preceding chapter it has been set out that Kurt Vonnegut does not close his personality and private life off from his professional life.

(40)  "APC", p. 257, l. 1 and l. 3.

(41)  Freese, 432-433. As you can deduce from Vonnegut himself, the present adults grew up with the myth of being heroes if participating in war. Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House, 405.

(42)  "APC", p. 256, l. 3.

(43)  Consequently, the metaphor mirrors Vonnegut's ideology that every human being is entitled to dignity, cf. Klinkowitz, 31.

(44)  "APC", p. 256, l. 8.

(45)  "APC", p. 256, l. 9.

(46)  Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 237.

(47)  Vonnegut, ib., 238.

(48)  Thus, Vonnegut prefers a simple style to a complex one in order to reach an audience as wide as possible. Allan, 8.

(49)  "APC", p. 256 l. 9 and l. 23.

(50)  "APC", p. 256, l. 3.

(51)  Vonnegut also shows his affiliation to those who fight for the realisation of the American Dream Martin Luther King propagated by taking up metaphors similar to passages in King's speech "The American Dream". See King, Martin Luther, Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James Melvin Washington (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), 208 and 210.

(52)  Norbert Benz, Der Schüler als Leser im fremdsprachlichen Literaturunterricht, Giessener Beiträge zur Fremdsprachendidaktik (Tübingen: Narr, 1990).

(53)  "APC", p. 255, l. 14.

(54) Owing to the short time available, the introductory part should take place in the last minutes of the preceding English lesson. As to the textual comprehension, it has to be emphasised that only if the learner has actually understood the text, he can move on to the next step. Cf. von Ziegesar, 12.

(55)  Helmut Heuer and Theo Steinmann, "Literaturerarbeitung durch kreativ verfremdete Aufgabenstellungen," Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 37 (1990): 36.

(56)  Those participants who do not deviate from the thesis mentioned in the first part have to cope with the task to give convincing reasons for the function of literature and writers as well as for the change Vonnegut has apparently undergone, which can serve as a basis for a lively and animated discussion on the background of the novel.

(57)  Appendix, l. 1. We would like to express our deeply felt gratitude to both the author Adam Cohen and the editors of TIME Magazine for their permission to post this article in the internet.

(58)  Appendix, l. 39.

(59)  Appendix, l. 21.

(60)  As Unav Wave stresses, a lighter penalty would have generally been considered to be inappropriate. Appendix, ll. 66-69.

(61)  Appendix, ll. 73-77. Admittedly, in the unabridged version of the article, King's father begs for mercy, but since he is one of King's closest relatives, his reaction does not directly signal his general moral aversion against capital punishment.

(62)  Appendix, l. 72.

(63)  Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 141.

(64)  Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 48-49.

(65) Appendix, l. 95-96.

(66)  Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 75 and 235. - Appendix, ll. 39-45.

(67)  Racism in the past is presented in the description of lynching, and racism in the present is depicted in the actual topic of the article, whereas racism in the future is conveyed by the description of the white boy wearing a buckle with a symbol of the Confederate battle flag.

(68)  Cf. Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 14.

(69)  Appendix, l. 88

(70)  Amor 7. - Buttjes, 99.

(71)  Randolph Quirk, "Preface," Dictionary of Contemporary English, 1995 ed., ix. The question which words have to be annotated unfortunately has to be decided subjectively, because a reference work that lists up the words the pupils should know in class twelve or in class thirteen does not exist.

(72) Buttjes, 88.

V. Bibliography

Primary sources:

Cohen, Adam, “A Life for a Life.” Time 8 Mar. 1999:36-41.

Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr., “Address to P.E.N. Conference in Stockholm, 1973”, Wampeters, Foma, & Granfalloons: Essays (London: Cape, 1975), 253-257.

Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr., “The First Amendment”, Welcome to the Monkey House (London: Vintage, 1994), 313-329.

Secondary sources:

Allan, William Rodney, Understanding Kurt Vonnegut. Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1990.

Amor, Stuart, “Authenticity in the Language Classroom”, Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht - Englisch 33(1999): 4-10.

“The Banning of Billy Pilgrim”, Christian Century 2 June 1971: 681.

Bredella, Lothar, “How to Elicit Responses to Literary Texts: Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse- Five as a Literary Text and as a Historical Document”, in: Teaching Contemporary American Life and Literature in the German Advanced EFL classroom: Proceedings of the Third Conference of the German Association for American Studies on the Didactics of American, ed. Peter Freese (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1985), 58-79.

Benz, Norbert, Der Schüler als Leser im fremdsprachlichen Literaturunterricht. Giessener Beiträgezur Fremdsprachendidaktik. Tübingen: Narr, 1990.

Brusch, Wilfried. “Vom Lesen zum Schreiben:‘Dependent Authorship.’"Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 25 (1992): 36-41.

Buttjes, Dieter, “Lernziel Kulturkompetenz.” Englischunterricht: Grundlagen und Methoden einer handlungsorientierten Praxis, eds. Gerhard Bach and Johannes-Peter Timm. Uni-Taschenbücher 154. (Tübingen: Franke, 1989), 68-101.

Caspari, Daniela; “Übersicht über kreative Umgangsformen mit literarischen Texten.” Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 31 (1997): 44-45.

Ebbert, Birgit, Home Page. 9 Feb. 2002

Freese, Peter, “Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)”, Der Roman im Englischunterricht der Sekundarstufe II: Theorie und Praxised. Peter Freese and Liesel Hermes. Informationen zur Sprach- und Literaturdidaktik 11 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1981) 432-433.

Gemkow, Frank. Home Page. 10 Jan.

Heuer, Helmut and Theo Steinmann, “Literaturerarbeitung durch kreativ verfremdende Aufgabenstellungen”, Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 37 (1990): 33-41.

Jefferson, Thomas, The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Representative Selections, , ed. Edward Dumbauld. American Heritage Ser. 9. New York: Liberal Art, 1955.

Kieweg, Maria and Werner, “Praxiserprobte Dialogtechniken.” Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht - Englisch 34 (2000): 17.

Klinkowitz, Jerome, "Vonnegut in America", Vonnegut in America: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Kurt Vonnegut, eds. Jerome Klinkowitz and Donald L. Lawler (New York: Dell, 1997), 7-36.

King, Martin Luther, Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James Melvin Washington. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986.

Ministerium für Schule und Weiterbildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung nach Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, Richtlinien und Lehrpläne für die Sekundarstufe II - Gymnasium/Gesamtschule in Nordrhein-Westfalen: Englisch. Schriftenreihe Schule in NRW 4704. Frechen: Ritterbach, 1999.

Pulm, Manfred, "Anregungen zu spielerisch-kreativem Umgang mit literarischen Texten", Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 25 (1992): 31-35.

Quirk, Randolph, "Preface", Dictionary of Contemporary English (Langenscheidt/Longman, 1995), ix-x.

Schuhmacher, Karl-Erhard, "Texterschließung - Textproduktion - Textgespräch", Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 16 (1982): 306-309.

Veix, Donald B., "Teaching a Censored Novel: Slaughterhouse-Five", English Journal 64 (1975): 25-33.

Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five, ed. Ruth Freifrau von Ledebur. Berlin: Cornelsen, 2nd ed., 1993.

---, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons: Essays . [New York:] Delacorte, 1975.

---, Welcome to the Monkey House. London: Vintage, 1994.

Werlich, Egon, Praktische Methodik des Fremdsprachenunterrichts mit authentischen Texten. Berlin: Cornelsen, 1989.

Ziegesar, Detlef and Margaret von, How to Analyse and Teach Non-Literary Texts. Scriptor Taschenbücher 135. Königstein: Scriptor, 1979.

VI. Appendix

Abridged Version of the Article "A Life for a Life" by Adam Cohen

   1 | If the barbaric dragging death of James Byrd Jr. were a movie--and at
   2 | times it seemed like pure John Grisham--this was the scene that would
   3 | have been certain to make it into the trailers. As a scowling John
   4 | William King, 24, was led out of the Jasper County courthouse in
   5 | shackles by Texas Rangers last week, reporters asked him if he had any
   6 | message for the grieving Byrd family. It was a moment when, just
   7 | briefly, repentance appeared possible. "Yeah," King sneered.
   8 | He then invited the Byrds to perform a lewd sexual act.
   9 | There's a reason King's story feels like a legal thriller: its plot
  10 | line is melodramatic and painfully one-dimensional. The murder of Byrd
  11 | is as horrific a crime as can be imagined--chaining a man to a truck
  12 | and dragging him 5 km until he dies of his injuries. And the
  13 | protagonist is a dime-store white supremacist, spouting anti-black and
  14 | anti- Semitic dogma and spewing hatred to the bitter end. Last week a
  15 | Jasper jury tacked a Hollywood ending onto King's life story,
  16 | convicting him of first-degree murder and sentencing him to death by
  17 | lethal injection.
  18 | It was a more satisfying resolution than many blacks had dared expect.
  19 | East Texas, with its dusty small towns and cotton fields, is more
  20 | Dixie than Lone Star. And the South hasn't been a place where blacks
  21 | always found justice in the courtroom. In towns like Jasper, not long
  22 | ago, blacks--even black lawyers--were routinely called by their first
  23 | name in court, often excluded as jurors, their testimony discounted
  24 | again and again. Black life was so cheap that whites almost never got
  25 | the death penalty for killing blacks. After Byrd's murder, King
  26 | gloated to an accomplice that "we have made history." He may
  27 | just be right. If his death penalty is carried out, he will be the
  28 | first white Texan executed for killing a black since slavery ended. If
  29 | ever a crime cried out for grave punishment, it's this one. King and
  30 | two friends were driving a 1982 Ford pickup in the early-morning hours
  31 | last June. They spotted Byrd, 49, an unemployed vacuumcleaner
  32 | salesman, walking home from a party on a lonely stretch of Highway 96
  33 | and offered him a ride. They drove him to a deserted corner of the
  34 | backwoods and, after a struggle, chained him to the truck by his
  35 | ankles. Then they dragged him for 5 km along a rural road outside
  36 | Jasper. [...] Lawmen later found Byrd's head and upper torso,
  37 | including his right arm, shoulder and neck, in a ditch about 1.5 km
  38 | away from the rest of his body.
  39 | Byrd's murder was a heinous crime against a man and his family, but it
  40 | was also something larger. Lynching is the iconic Old South crime,
  41 | used to punish slave insurrections. Lynch mobs traditionally hanged
  42 | their victim from a rope tossed over a tree limb. But dragging deaths
  43 | were not uncommon, first from horses, later from cars and trucks.
  44 | Lynching was at once a brutal act of vigilante injustice and a larger
  45 | statement--a warning to blacks to remain subservient. [...] John King
  46 | grew up among blacks and went to school with them. (The black jury
  47 | foreman was a classmate at Jasper High School.) King's life took a bad
  48 | turn after his junior year of high school, when he was arrested for
  49 | burglary--along with Shawn Berry, one of the two men with him in the
  50 | pickup last June. Upon release, however, King violated probation and
  51 | was given an eight-year prison term in July 1995. [...] [After he got
  52 | out of prison in 1997,] King dragged his victim's severed torso
  53 | through a black part of town and dumped it near a black church and
  54 | cemetery. He wanted Byrd's death to fulfill the traditional function
  55 | of a lynching. "It was designed to strike terror into the
  56 | community," a government witness said. Jasper, which calls itself
  57 | the Jewel of the Forest, is not a frozen-in-time, bigoted Southern
  58 | town. Although it is 60% white, Mayor R.C. Horn and other influential
  59 | political figures are black. But the killing had the potential to
  60 | reopen a lot of wounds and set whites against blacks. That calm
  61 | reigned is in significant part because of the Byrd family, which
  62 | preached harmony and refused to blame the entire white community for
  63 | the acts of three men. [...]
  64 | The early signs from the courtroom were encouraging. [...] Jasper's
  65 | black community hoped for the best but braced for the worst.
  66 | "Even if you know something is right and that you should get a
  67 | certain verdict, sometimes you don't get it," says Unav Wade,
  68 | owner of a beauty salon on the courthouse square. "If it's
  69 | between races, most likely the white person wins." But this time
  70 | the white person lost badly. [...]
  71 | Whites joined blacks outside the courthouse to applaud the verdict.
  72 | Some onlookers shouted "Bye-bye!" and "Rot in
  73 | hell!" as King was led off to death row. "I hate to say
  74 | people were happy, but they were," says Jasper Chamber of
  75 | Commerce president Diane Domenech, who is white. "I feel like we
  76 | stood together, black and white, and everyone's just as happy as the
  77 | next one at what happened."
  78 | In the days since Byrd's death, blacks and whites in Jasper have
  79 | talked frankly about the killing and racial topics previously not
  80 | discussed. "One man said he had a granddaughter who was half
  81 | black," says Walter Diggles, the black executive director of the
  82 | Deep East Texas Council of Governments. "He had had a hard time
  83 | with that, but now he is accepting her." The sense of unity was
  84 | difficult at first. At a city council meeting in August, Nancy
  85 | Nicholson, a member who is white, recalls, "You wouldn't have
  86 | believed how bad it was. The blacks were so angry, and the whites
  87 | didn't know what to do. But we've come a long way since then."
  88 | "It's changed people," says Wade. "There is still
  89 | subtle racism here. When a white person and a black person enter a
  90 | store at the same time, usually the white person is served first. That
  91 | sort of stuff goes on." But, she says, "Jasper is going to
  92 | be much better because of what happened."
  93 | In fact, there is hearteningly widespread dismay over a white boy
  94 | suspended from school five times in the past month for wearing a
  95 | buckle with a symbol of the Confederate battle flag. [...] In the
  96 | South, wrote Faulkner, the past isn't dead; it's not even past. That
  97 | must have seemed all too true when Byrd was buried last June--on the
  98 | black side of the Jasper City Cemetery, still segregated in 1998. But
  99 | the truth is that Jasper has progressed a great deal since pre- civil
 100 | rights days, and Byrd's killing has moved things along even further.
 101 | Shortly before jury selection, 75 blacks and whites met at the
 102 | cemetery to cut down the wrought-iron fence that separated the two
 103 | races even in death. "Give us the power and the strength through
 104 | this rotten and broken fence to repair the fences in our own
 105 | lives," prayed the Rev. Ron Fosbage of St Michael's Catholic
 106 | Church.
 107 | That small blow for equality could provide a final bit of redemption.
 108 | If King is executed and returned to Jasper, he could spend eternity,
 109 | alongside Byrd, in a place that his violent act helped make a little
 110 | more free. As Walter Diggles noted last week, "It's almost like
 111 | the Lord was saying we needed to let people see the evil that is out
 112 | there in the country." And, he added sadly but proudly, "he
 113 | wanted it to happen in a place that could handle it."

drag to pull someone or something along the ground
to scowl to look at someone in an angry way
shackles a pair of metal rings joined by a chain that are used for fastening together a prisoner’s hands or feet
repentance the state of being sorry for something you have done
lewd rude, dirty
dime-store a shop that sells cheap goods
mob angry/aggressive crowd
to tack sth on to add sth
to gloat to show in an unpleasant way that you are happy about your own success or somebody’s failure
stretch a long and narrow area of land or water
ditch a long narrow hole in the ground at the side of a field
heinous very shocking and immoral
iconic here: famous
insurrection an attempt by a large group of people to take control using violence
vigilante a person that takes the law into his/her own hand
subservient willing to do what other people want you to do
probation a system that allows criminals not to go to prison, if they behave well
bigoted having such strong opinions about race, religion, or politics that you are unwilling to listen to anyone else’s opinion
alleged supposed to be true although there is no proof that actually this is the case
verdict a decision of a jury in a court of law
subtle only noticeable if you pay careful attention
buckle a metal fastener used for joining the two ends of a belt
wrought-iron of iron that is formed to make gates or fences
redemption the state of being freed from the power of evil

Last Updated by Dr. Willi Real on Wednesday, 6 November, 2002 at 4:16 PM.

[ Hauptseite | Roman | Arbeiten ]