"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"But he was himself the chief horror of the scene."   

Losing Faith and Sympathy for the Devil: A great opportunity to have students open their eyes - most of them have read the story as freshman - a chance to get them to see it anew.

Lesson Overview 

 They have read it before (most of them) and some may try to get by on the quiz with a reading from 2 years ago (a valuable lesson in itself). As the students are walking in, they grab a handout on a desk which has the lyrics to the Rolling Stone's song "Sympathy for the Devil" on one side and "People are Strange" by The Doors on the other side -  the latter is playing during this passing period and while they take the quiz - They also pick up the quiz as they come in along with the handout.
 After the quiz - I pass out a handout with the first page of "Young Goodman Brown" on it blown slightly up - with lots of room for them to take notes on it, as well as some general directions for taking notes on a text.  I then give them 5-7 minutes to take notes directly on the text (ahhh yes it begins).  They have read the story last night (or before the period) and perhaps a couple of years ago as well.  I push them hard to be continually writing during this time period - it doesn't matter if it's perfect or even good - just write. They discover that they see things in that first page - now that they've read the entire story -  that they didn't notice upon first reading.  When the time is up - they share what they come up with.  I make a special effort to try and have everyone say at least one thing - and often one student's comments (or question) will lead to another's. 
    I then ask a series of questions (see my notes).  These questions are designed to build on what they came up with during their close reading AND to get them to see the story in the way that a senior (or advanced junior) sees it - in a very different way than a freshman.  The gist being that two years ago they may have seen it as a supernatural story about an evil devil and a good-hearted Goodman Brown - but now they are asked - "Why did he leave his wife"? "Who went in the forest in the first place?"  "To meet whom?" etc.  This all leads to the end - where I play "Sympathy for the Devil" and again (building on what they did at the beginning of the period) ask them to take copious notes as the song plays and to make connections to the story - both directly and indirectly.  

At the end we go over what is due at the next class - what is coming up in the long run.

My Lesson Notes (2010/2019) - Hand written notes - Different years - different colors.

The Story

The Text by itself and with notes

The Story: Docx  PDF - For "Young Goodman Brown

The Text with my Notes: PDF

Handouts A    (most recent)

Reading Quiz:  PDF - For "Young Goodman Brown" (notice the extra credit - which in fact will hopefully jar their memory about reading this story before)

Handout #1  DOC x  PDF  Two Songs - one is listened to as students enter ("People are Strange") the other after our discussion ("Sympathy for the Devil").  With the latter song students will take notes relating it to our discussion.

Handouts B    (most recent)

Handout #2 PDF Text for student close reading.  In later years I gave the students a hard copy of the entire text (as opposed to their text book) but the advantage of this was it has some brief directions for their mark up exercise (otherwise these directions can be found on the Power Point).

A Reading to Take Students Further:
Millions in his Firing Squad (a column by Mike Royko on how many of us, not just the shooter, were responsible for the death of Martin Luther King ) Docx   PDF

Audio Visual Content

Here is the opening song  of the lesson "People are Strange" -  and the song "Sympathy for the Devil" that students will listen to and take notes on AFTER the discussion. 


Remote Enhancements

                          A presentation to help students navigate the close reading and discussion  aas well as the  Martin Luther King article that we read aloud in class.



The students did their end of the year project on this short story one year - when I find it , I will put it here.

Class Recordings (for registered members)



What's Next & Unit Homepage

Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave".  The seminal work on what is truth - it allows students to use everything from their first three lessons and synthesize it into a new understanding.


  "The Night Face Up"

Thoughts on the Lesson 

With the exception of the past few years (where students are not assigned reading very often) most students have read this story.  It is amazing - and they are amazed at how they can read the same story a few years later - and see it in a very different light - you can never walk in the same river twice...  This comes in handy for much of what we will do and talk about this year.  It is also a good idea to get them used to examine their own actions - rather than pointing a finger.