1920s boom time high School Instructional Performance Task Module

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Parts II and III to have students identify with a partner 2 to 3 changes that they see in one or both of the characters. The student pairs will then share their examples with the class, providing an evolution line around the room in order to connect these character shifts to what they read in the “New Woman” text. Some examples of character changes that the students may identify follow.

  • In Parts II and III, Horace and Marcia illustrate the inversion of gender roles. Our discussion will surround information gleaned from “The New Woman” text and the students’ understanding of patriarchal societies. Parts II and III center upon the romance of Horace and Marcia. As readers, we begin realizing that both characters are chasing after ostensible ideas of themselves and not their true natures – Horace is not irrevocably committed to his academics, and Marcia does not necessarily see a substantial future in performing. In many ways, they are both “stuck” because they feel as though their chosen endeavors are their only options; academics is Horace’s only option because that his all he has known since a young age; we have seen a glimpse of this with Horace in Part I; after Marcia leaves his apartment, he leaves his book open on his armchair Hume, but has lost his passion for his studies. Performing is Marcia’s only option because she is financially independent due to her dancing talent and prideful in her ability to take care of herself. However, in Part II and II we, as readers, discover that, though outwardly Marcia revels in her sexuality and her ability to dance, she does not want to be pigeonholed as a one-dimensional person, or a one-trick pony, so to speak. Another change in Parts II and II is that Horace begins to embrace his masculinity and becomes the aggressor in his pursuit of Marcia. Here, the tables are turned in that Marcia is unnerved by Horace. As readers, we see parallels from Part I that are now translated to Part III. Mirroring Marcia’s unexpected arrival in Horace’s apartment, Horace unnerves Marcia by following her vaudeville act to New York City; he attends her show night after night and Marcia does not like that he makes her feel self-conscious (a complete contrast to her earlier brazen personality). She continually leaves her show abruptly, without acknowledging him; but, one night, he follows her home and enters into her apartment in pursuit of her. He confesses his love for her and proposes marriage. Marcia hesitates because she fears that marriage means that traditional Horace wishes to be “the Master of me” – she loves Horace, but fears losing her independence. She is also concerned about “your people,” which is the first reference to the class system of the 1920s. She fears that Horace’s academic circle and his family will not approve of the marriage (this fear is confirmed at the beginning of Part IV).
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