Lesson 1. Introducing “Winesburg, Ohio”

This curriculum unit introduces students to Sherwood Anderson and his use of the grotesque in Winesburg, Ohio, while focusing their analysis on the central character George and his relationships with family members and town residents.

The opening vignette of Winesburg Ohio, “The Book of the Grotesque,” was the original title Anderson gave to the book. His first story serves as a prologue and lays out Anderson’s central insight concerning human relationship where each man or woman lives according to his or her own “truth.” As they proceed through the text, students will encounter a multitude of “grotesque” characters distorted by their chosen life path, maimed by the effects others’ choices has had on them.

The lesson serves as an introduction to the literary element, “grotesque,” a concept Anderson opens with and amplifies throughout this story cycle with vivid examples. Students read the opening story, then apply their initial understanding of the grotesque to the story entitled “Respectability.”

Part of a three lesson unit on Winesburg, Ohio, Lesson 1 may be taught in sequence or stand on its own. Teachers may link to the full unit with Guiding Questions, Background and summative Assessment. Lesson 1 aligns with CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5.

Learning Objectives

To examine the literary element “grotesque” through the context of Winesburg, Ohio’s opening story to arrive at a working definition of the term

To analyze some implications of the grotesque for Anderson’s short story cycle