WebQuest: Mystery and Meaning for “The Scarlet Ibis”
Authors have an uncanny way of presenting information to the reader that is often hidden behind rich language and literary devices. In discovering the "mysteries" of the literature, readers gain insights into human experiences and develop a broader understanding of oneself. James Hurst, author of "The Scarlet Ibis," is one who provides "mystery and meaning" through his short story. You will use the web to find information that will help you complete this assignment. What mysteries will you uncover and how will those mysteries find meaning in your life?
You're ready to begin! Have fun on your search for the answers to this mystery:
define and identify a symbol;
create and explain an original symbol;
define a scarlet ibis;
explain the significance of environment for the scarlet ibis.
Don't forget to keep all of the answers to your quest for meaning on your worksheet.
Directions: Make sure you read all of the directions before you begin the journey. You will have a set of three activities to complete. Follow the assigned order of the activities (so please don't jump around as you complete the assignment).
What is a symbol? Instead of going to the textbook for the answer, link to the following site to find the definition of a symbol:
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Lots of students dislike or fear literature, because they think they "don't get" the idea of symbolism. This next sites contain examples explaining some traditional symbols in our culture.
You're going to read a story about a scarlet ibis, and you have probably guessed that it will involve some symbolism. Wouldn't you agree that it would help to understand the story if you knew what a scarlet ibis was? The following site has a picture of the scarlet ibis.
Record your answers to the following questions on your worksheet:
1) What is a scarlet ibis? Describe in detail. 2) Describe the environment in which the scarlet ibis lives. 3) How is environment important to the bird's survival?
Before you begin reading the short story, let's see if you really understand symbolism!
Let's see if you can unlock the "mystery" and find the "meaning" in the following poem:
Read the poem carefully.
Underline or highlight specific clues that will aid in identifying the symbol.
Identify the symbol.
Provide a brief explanation or justification for your choice.
Submit your analysis to your teacher.
"First Lesson" by Philip Booth
Lie back, daughter, let your head be tipped back in the cup of my hand. Gently, and I will hold you. Spread your arms wide, lie out on the stream and look high at the gulls. A dead- man's - float is face down. You will dive and swim soon enough where this tidewater ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe me, when you tire on the long thrash to your island, lie up, and survive. As you float now, where I held you and let go, remember when fear cramps your heart what I told you: Lie gently and wide to the light-year stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.
Answer the following questions:
1. The father is giving his daughter advice about floating. This first swim lesson dealing with floating also has a symbolic meaning. Not only is the father giving his daughter advice about floating, but he is also giving his daughter advice about ____________________.
2. Provide a brief explanation for your choice.
Get to know the author better. Take a look at these link to learn more about James Hurst: