Task #1:

  • Go around in your group and discuss which TV character you thought of for homework. See if there’s one that a few people have in common, or one that most people know. Choose one character from a TV show to work with for this exercise.
  • On a Smartnote page, copy and paste a photo from the Internet of the character. Write their name and the show title underneath the photo.
  • Then, complete the following character assessment:
  1. (He or she) is ______________, ________________, and ___________________ (3 adjectives).
  2. More than anything in the world, (he or she) wants ___________
  3. But (he or she) can’t get it, because _____________
  4. (He or she) is very good at _________
  5. And very bad at __________
  6. (He or she) loves ____________
  7. And hates _______________
  8. I would/wouldn’t like to be friends with this person because _____________

Task #2: Looking for patterns

  1. In your groups, read “Sticks,” by George Saunders. (Don’t read the Hemingway story. Just the Saunders one).
  2. After you’ve read the story once or twice, you will be assigned one of the following elements to pay attention to. Your group’s task is to underline any example of this element in the story. For now, just underline them.
  3. Once you have underlined all the examples of this element, make a one-sentence statement about this element in the story. Say anything about it that you think is true. Do this on a fresh Smartnote page.
  4. Then, complete this sentence. “This story is about ______________.” Just one sentence. Go beyond the literal meaning.


  • Underline any strong verbs that describe the father’s actions. (You can decide for yourself what constitutes a “strong” verb. I would say a verb like “heave” is a strong verb. A verb like “go” is not necessarily a “strong” verb. You can substitute “strong” for “unusual” or “very specific.”)
  • Underline any mention of time or time passing. (This can include specific holidays, specific references to time, or indirect references to time passing.)
  • Underline anything that conveys strong emotion. (This can be the author directly referencing an emotion, him describing an emotional experience, or a moment that seems curiously devoid of emotion.)
  • Underline all the objects in the story. There are a lot. (After you underline them, you can think about the pattern of these objects, for example how the father dresses the pole from the beginning of the story until the end. You can also think about which objects might have metaphorical meaning.)
  • Underline any interesting or deliberately repetitive language. (This can includes words, sounds, lengths of sentences, specific syntax, etc. This can include sentences that are longer or shorter than other sentences.)
  • Underline anything that gives us information about the father’s character. (This can include his relationship with his children, and his evolving behaviour with the pole.)