The Outsiders – The Relationship Between Setting and Mood

Posted November 2, 2010 by 1 Comment

Yes, I am a naughty teacher. My Outsiders post is a day late. I should take off points for being late! For this week’s edition of our lesson study of The Outsiders, I am sharing a lesson I used to teach the connection between Mood and Setting. 8th grade students need to understand that Mood is the feeling the reader gets from the story, and often the Mood can be directly influenced by a story’s Setting. In fact, Setting can not only be its own character (I’m looking at you Beautiful Creatures), but also can be directly connected to a novel’s conflict.

To introduce this concept, I described Mood and Setting as a couple. I joked with the students that in any relationship if the girl is having a bad day, no doubt the boy will end up having a bad day too. Setting and Mood are no different. If a novel’s setting is a symbol of tension than the mood will reflect this. I used last Friday to teach this lesson. It was the perfect time because the students were gearing up for Halloween. I decorated my classroom with spiderwebs and fake snakes and spiders. I dimmed the lights and played the sounds of a raging storm. (Yes, I use my Ipod daily in my classroom…but more on that on Friday). When the students settled I asked them to close their eyes and imagine a situation where these sights and sounds might exist. Then the students took dry erase boards and drew visuals of their constructed settings. After the students shared their pictures, I asked them what they felt like when  walking into the classroom. We discussed how the setting I created in the classroom was connected to how they felt.

Next, the students took out their notebooks and Outsiders novels. They looked through the first four chapters and filled out a chart that was broken into three sections: What did the 1960’s look like (clothes, Tulsa, cars, etc)? What did the 1960’s sound like (music, slang, arguments about wealth)? What did it feel like to live in the 1960’s (what do the characters say about their home and the people in it)? The students then shared with their table mates.

At the conclusion of the discussion, the class completed a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the 1960’s with today, writing a one paragraph summary how the setting itself causes conflict in the novel, and how the setting influences the mood.

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