For an in-class point-of-view exercise on Alan Sillitoe's "The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner," I gave students the following instructions:
You already know protagonist Smith's take on life, but what about supporting characters? We are about to find out, for each group will assume a first-person ("I") character point-of-view of a supporting character and write a one-page passage.
Your first-person passage must be supported by textual clues; thus, you can't just write any old thing and claim success. Your "guess" must have a basis in fact. Also, don't quote original dialogue from the novella; the idea is to understand the nuances of the text by creating LIKELY opinions of and ORIGINAL text from your character. Besides, nabbing existing text is the lazy way out, and I want you to stretch your intellectual capabilities.
----------Group 1: Smith's father
----------Group 2: Governor at Borstal
----------Group 3: The copper
----------Group 4: Mam
----------Group 5: Mam's "fancy-man"
Students read their passages in class.
Also, they were asked to designate a representative from their groups to post their passages in the comment section of this blog.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Supporting Characters from "The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner"
Posted by Jennifer at 3:57 PM
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Group 2: Danielle Boyer, Jessica Cunningham, Meghan Daly, and Shana Mallory
I work at Borstal and today during drills a young man named Smith looked like he could be the Borstal Blue Ribbon Prize Cup winner for long distance running. I think if we keep him running the grounds he will get bored, so I'm going to trust him and let him run the fields. He wasn't very enthusiastic about running the race for us, but he did agree. Even though the other boys are jealous, I think Smith running the fields will give him the training he needs. I hope this competition will do the boy some good.
When it came time for the race I was really excited, because Smith was our ticket to winning. At the starting line he looked strong and ready to run the race. He was way ahead of the pack when he approached the finish line, but just stopped dead in his tracks and Gunthorpe ran right passed him and to the finish line. Smith cost me the whole race and once again we didn't win the cup. Why did he waste his life?
Group 1: Katie Fulbright, Jennifer Butts, Christine Sellars, Tasia Colbert
I'm a simple man. I'm a father of to many children, a husband, and a factory worker. I make 9 ponds a week and live far from extravagantly. My family has the basic necessities, half of which I can't afford. I live a repetitive life. Get up and do the same thing everyday. But I'm a believer in the natural way.
Last week I learned of this disease called throat cancer. It is making me look at what I have and what I thought life would give me. As a kid, I thought I might have more independence but 17 is looking much better than now. When I met my wife, I thought it would be the greatest thing to start a family and work for her-to support her. But reality hit when I found out she was sleeping around. To make matters worse, I hate my own kids. My wife has never taught them how to behave so all they do is wine. I thought I would die a happier man.
Group 4: Chelsea Rosenberger and Nichol Fake
I've never really had much. I came from a poor family. When I was young I had one outfit and played with my mother's pots in the kitchen. As soon as I met my husband, I saw marriage as a chance at something better. I married because two paychecks are better then one. I did not marry for love. We had a few children and we did what we could for them. Then my husband got ill and passed. Most wives would be devastated to lose her husband, but again, I saw it as an opportunity. When I got the money I took myself and the kids on a shopping spree. We finally had the luxeries we never thought we would. Not long after my husband passed I had myself a fancy man. I did not love him either. In fact I keep him at a distance and have no plans of marrying him but he is nice to have around. He doesn't seem to care for my oldest son and the others at times seem to really bother him but they will all just have to deal. For once my life is about me.
I'm sick of it I tell you. All I do is try to provide for this home and comfort his mother and colin has never shown any appreciation for it. He's a bum, doesn't have a job, doesn't watch over his little brothers and sisters. All he does is run around town with his friends chasing tail. He has the nerve to assault me for trying to watch my own television set. His mother sure put him in his place, but she seems somewhat distant even to me. I have no clue what she wants from me whether itbe a companion or a father for her childern. Either way Colin being sent to Barstil is the best thing that could happen for this family, I wont stand sharing quarters with a theif.
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