Teaching Tools, 23 February 2007
At the end of chapter 5, after a happy and successful day at the baracholka, Esther and her grandmother make their long trudge back to their miserable home at the gypsum mines. However, they were very cheerful, and the author describes herself and her grandmother as being "very"`people – "either very sad or very gay, with nothing in between". For this lesson, the students are required to sift through their five chapters of homework reading, to locate and to write out the various descriptions, sometimes exaggeration, that the author used to convey the vibrant and optimistic character of the child, Esther.
Ask the students to write down three examples that demonstrate these traits of Esther, and three examples of the realistic attitude of the adults.
In chapter 7, Esther has the opportunity to attend the local school. Ask the students
to describe Esther's reaction to school to suggest why she was so positive about school and why she was so desperate to be friendly with the local Russian children.
In chapter 8, Esther has her first personal confrontation with tragedy – the news that her grandfather had died from the combination of forced labour and illness. Not only does Esther experience her own grief and loss, but she also suffers with the suffering of her parents and her grandmother. Ask the students to describe the difficulties that Esther's family faced in their desire to conduct the ritual mourning for the grandfather.
Homework: Students read chapters 11 to 14