PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Grade 8 Humanities: Week of 5/29/2017 Don’t Walk Wavy While Learning Stenography In The Hood

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Dear Families,

Arthur Miller’s work was influenced by his profound insider experiences during The Great Depression and his view as an outsider in WW2 (an old injury prevented him from serving). His entire catalog of work revolves around themes and ideas that can be traced back to these events, either metaphorically or actually. His plays seem to echo that the past is not really the past as it always lives on in some way. And that guilt, responsibility, denial, and betrayal are often all meshed together.

As we started A View from the Bridge, we noticed that the moral standard to which Miller seems to hold his characters to is that of an “active citizen,” someone who shows responsibility to self, family, and society. If Miller were alive today, he would probably add “global society” in light of the technology we now possess that keeps us informed and makes the world smaller, and thus our role bigger as ‘world neighbors.’

Our play takes place in the decade after WW2 when women retreated back into their kitchens, and everyone’s place (or denial) at the table was re-shuffled. It is as much about the Carbone Family living in Red Hook, Brooklyn as it is about American Society at large. We wanted to focus on characterization in a way that would reveal social history so that we could see the mash-up of the personal and the societal. In Act I, there is a particularly striking song called Paper Doll that illuminates the role of women clearly . . .

I’m gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own
A doll that other fellows cannot steal
And then the flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes
Will have to flirt with dollies that are real

When I come home at night she will be waiting
She’ll be the truest doll in all this world
I’d rather have a paper doll to call my own
Than have a fickle minded real live girl

I guess I had a million dolls or more
I guess I’ve played the doll game o’er and o’er
I just quarreled with Sue, that’s why I’m blue
She’s gone away and left me just like all dolls do

I’ll tell you boys, it’s tough to be alone
And it’s tough to love a doll that’s not your own
I’m through with all of them
I’ll never fall again
Say boy, whatcha gonna do

I’m gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own
A doll that other fellows cannot steal
And then the flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes
Will have to flirt with dollies that are real

When I come home at night she will be waiting
She’ll be the truest doll in all this world
I’d rather have a paper doll to call my own
Than have a fickle minded real live girl

Then, we made our own paper dolls to explore the text. The character of Catherine, an aspiring stenographer, was a favorite choice because she serves as the lightning rod for the others’ guilt, responsibility, denial, and betrayal . . .

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And as promised: Countdown to Graduation! As of Tuesday, May 30th, we will have 15 class days until the big day!

Yours,

Ms. Sacilotto

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“Now we are quite civilized, quite American. Now we settle for half, and I like it better.”

— Alfieri, Act I