Friday, February 24, 2012


While reading Laurie Halse Anderson's Forge, the main character, Curzon, encounters hardship as both an enlisted soldier in the Valley Forge winter encampment and as a recaptured slave.  Though he is uneducated and unable to read or write, he recalls a story that he heard from another soldier about a man who defied the gods to do what was right and was punished brutally for it.  He compares his hardship to this story.

Given that we had already read some ancient Greek mythology earlier in the year, this piqued the students' interest.  The story to which Curzon is referring is the myth of Prometheus, the second-generation Titan and champion of mortal man.  Even though he was forbidden to do so by Zeus, Prometheus stole the power of fire and gave it to mortals.  As punishment, he was chained to the side of a mountain to have his liver eaten by eagles, only to regrow each night and start the torture anew the next day. 

After discussing the famous tale of Prometheus, we discussed the ways in which Curzon is similar.  We created a Venn diagram of their similarities and differences, and during our discussion, the students discussed how both Curzon and Prometheus had experienced both literal and metaphorical chains.  This led us directly into our next activity...

We created chains to show how both heroes had experienced literal and metaphorical chains in their pursuit of doing what they felt was right.  I handed out a worksheet that included four long rectangles for filling in the "chains" of both characters.  Once we had filled in the different types of "chains," we cut out the strips and taped them into links of a chain. 

Throughout our reading of Forge, we have completed several reflective creative writing activities, including letters to and from characters, as well as "thought bubble" posters.  The bulletin board outside of our classroom displays these projects and activities, including the chains, and has actually drawn a lot of interest in the book.  Several students from other grades have asked about the book and we may even be adding the whole series, including the prequel, Chains, and the upcoming sequel, Ashes.  


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