Lesson Plan

Lesson 3. A Gallery of Grotesque Characters

First edition title page of Winesburg, Ohio.
Photo caption

First edition title page of 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 first story in Winesburg, Ohio, “The Book of the Grotesque,” prepares readers for the story cycle’s emphasis on the literary element of the grotesque. Student’s initial reading of the book is likely to lead to questions: How could one little town be peopled with so many oddly twisted characters? Isn’t this perspective totally unrealistic? Older readers, on the other hand, often experience a strong sense of having met people much like those in the stories in the course of their lives.

This lesson culminates the unit on Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and builds on the work completed in the first two lessons. It begins with a return to the general concept of the grotesque introduced in Lesson 1. It picks up on ways the term applies to the character George Willard (the main focus of Lesson 2) and his relationships with family members and townspeople. Lesson 3 has teachers model an analysis of the chapter entitled “Adventure,” which depicts the character Alice Hindman, and her progress (or regression) from “normal” to grotesque. Students can then be encouraged to work independently analyzing other examples of the grotesque among Anderson’s more minor characters.

Lesson 3 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 3 aligns with CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1.

Guiding Questions

How does the grotesque provide insight into reality?

Learning Objectives

To analyze Sherwood Anderson’s portrayals of grotesque with the major and minor characters in the Winesburg, OH short story cycle

To speculate why an author, such as Anderson, would include the grotesque in the short story cycle