Category Archives: Haley, Alex–Roots

Alex Haley’s Roots: the Saga of an American Family–Journal Writing Prompt #7

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personification in roots by alex haley list of personification examples

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The fog engulfed us…

Wait. Doesn’t “engulf” mean eat or swallow or something like that? This must be a form of figurative langauge. Yes, indeed, it’s personificaiton. Fog doesn’t even have a throat, so it can’t engulf anything. But when a writer gives a non-human thing people-ish characteristics (like having a throat and being able to swallow), that’s called personification.

For today’s journal entry, do the following:

  1. Name your book’s title and author.
  2. Find a quote from the book that demonstrates personification.
  3. Explain how your quote is an example of personification. (In other words, type something like, The word “engulf” is usually only used with human experiences, because it means “to swallow”, so it’s impossible for fog–an inanimate object–to swallow anything, since it doesn’t have a mouth or throat. That’s why this statement is an example of the personification of fog, making fog seem human by saying it “swallows” something just like humans can.)
  4. Tell what page you found it on (parenthetical citation).
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Alex Haley’s Roots: the Saga of an American Family–Journal Writing Prompt #6

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roots by allex haley static characters dynamic dinamic characters

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A static character does not change throughout the story. (Click on my link for details.) These are often minor characters, people who don’t matter much to the story. For example, in Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, Jim Hawkins’ mother is a static character. Why? Because from the start of the novel to the end:

  • She doesn’t go anywhere.
  • Her personality doesn’t change.
  • Her physical body isn’t altered by scarring or a pregnancy or anything else that might change her physical appearance.
  • She doesn’t learn anything.
  • She doesn’t become a more resilient person.

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In other words, nothing about Jim’s mom changes. That’s why she’s a static character. But what if we threw a dryer sheet in with her? How could we make her change from being a static character (one that never changes) to a dynamic character (one that does change)?

For this journal entry, choose a static character from Roots by Alex Haley. Invent a different plot element that would change this character significantly, and hypothesize about how that would transform the static character into a dynamic character (i.e. one that does change during the course of the story). Here’s an example:

  1. I’m reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  2. The static character I’ve chosen from my novel is Jim’s mom, because she never goes anywhere or does anything that changes her.
  3. I’m going to invent a plot in which she joins the treasure hunters and gets shot by pirates.
  4. That would change her, because she would have a physical injury. She might have to walk with a crutch after that, just like Long John Silver. In fact, she might even have more respect for Silver, because she would then understand how hard it is to have a physical handicap.
  5. She would then be a dynamic character, because she would have become more knowledgable about pirates, she would have a physical handicap, and she would have to learn how to cope with her disability.

To summarize, this is what you need to do, 4Gamerboy1997:

  1. Tell your title and author.
  2. Name the static character you’ve chosen and explain why/how they are static.
  3. Invent a plot development that would change the static character to dynamic. (This is not something that really happened in the book, but something you make up.)
  4. Explain how that plot development would change your static character.
  5. Pinpoint what would be dynamic about that character, due to the imaginary change you made to the plot.

Do you see those five questions I’ve written above? Just copy them and paste them directly into the comment box under this blog post. Then type your answers to each of the five requirements. Remember to use complete sentences, good spelling, and good grammar. Thanks!

Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family—Journal Writing Prompt #2

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whose point of view is roots told from ?

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Here’s Monday’s journal prompt for Mrs. Sparhawk’s reading class. Please submit your answer as a comment at the bottom of this post.

  1. Go to the Wikipedia link I’ve provided about narrative point of view. Read what it says there, so you understand what narrative point of view is all about.
  2. Pinpoint what narrative point of view is being used by Alex Haley in his book, Roots.
  3. Include a direct quote from the book you’re reading to prove which point of view is being used by the author. Use quotation marks around your quote and use parenthetical citation at the end of the quote, to show what page you found your quote on.

Want an example? Here’s one:

  1. I went to Wikipedia’s page about narrative point of view. Yes, now I understand what narrative point of view is all about. I’ll explain the narrative point of view in the book I’m reading, namely Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  2. I believe Treasure Island is told from a first person personal point of view.
  3. The story is told from Jim, the boy’s point of view. That’s why it’s first person personal. For example, Jim uses the word “I” even when describing other characters, like when he describes Ben Gunn: “From trunk to trunk the creature flitted like a deer, running manlike on two legs, but unlike any  man that I had ever seen, stooping almost double as it ran” (Ch. 15, p. 140).

Alex Haley’s Roots: the Saga of an American Family–Journal Writing Prompt #3 (Foreshadowing)

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alex haley foreshadows events in his book roots: the saga of an american family

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For those of you in Mrs. Sparhawk’s advanced reading class, here’s Tuesday’s journal question:

In their early chapters, classic novels like Roots tend to foreshadow events to come. The use of literary devices like foreshadowing is a sign of a well-planned plot and sometimes, true literary genius. So as long as you know what foreshadowing means (click the link to increase your knowledge base), you’re ready to write your own question about it. Your question can predict a possible red herring,  describe a prophecy, or pinpoint obvious foreshadowing, but please make sure your answer is about foreshadowing, not predicting. There’s a difference!

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Write a question that’s challenging
  • Write it with good spelling and grammar
  • Answer your own question
  • Make sure the answer to the question indicates that you understand what foreshadowing means

Here’s an example:

QUESTION: The captain’s “seafaring man with one leg” frightens Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island, but it also foreshadows the villainous nature of what character?

ANSWER: The captain’s “seafaring man with one leg” foreshadows the fact that Long John Silver is not the honest innkeeper he appears to be. He’s actually a pirate. In fact, he’s the very same “seafaring man with one leg” that Captain Billy Bones was so worried about.

Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family–Journal Writing Prompt #4

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alex haley's roots: the saga of an american family reverse descrimination argument

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If you’re in Mrs. Sparhawk’s advanced reading class, this will be your journal question for Wednesday:

Describe three black characters and three white characters from the novel, Roots. Which characters are more likeable? Which characters are more detestable? Why do you think Alex Haley created his characters like this? What purpose did it serve? How do you think Haley’s audience responded to his characters? Do you think any readers were offended by his characterization? In what ways would readers find offense?

When considering all the trauma and tragedy thrust upon Africans who were enslaved, is Alex Haley justified in painting this picture of whites and enslaved blacks from this period in history? What’s your honest opinion?

Alex Haley’s Roots: the Saga of an American Family–Journal Writing Prompt #5

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examples of hyperbole hiperboley hiperbollee hyperbolee like a bull in a china shop

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Here’s the journal writing prompt for Thursday. It deals with hyperbole. If you’re not sure what a hyperbole is, click on the links provided. You can read up on it. You’ll need to know the true meaning of a hyperbole, in order to complete today’s literary challenge:

  1. Find an example of a hyperbole used in Alex Haley’s Roots.
  2. Quote that example in your comment.
  3. Discuss.

I know, I know, it’s the “discuss” part that’s vague, right? So let me throw some questions at you. What is the literal meaning of the hyperbole? What is the metaphorical meaning of the hyperbole? Why did the character in your novel (or the author/narrator) use this hyperbole? How did it add weight to the tone or mood in the novel? Do people still use that hyperbole today? If not, why not? Is it only relevant to people living in Kunta Kinte’s time? Why is that?

These are just a few ways you might “discuss” the hyperbole of your choice. Remember to use good grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your comment.

There will be no journal writing prompt tomorrow, due to Fun Friday events.

Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family–Journal Writing Prompt #1

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alex haley roots the saga of an american family gambia setting compare contrast question

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As you begin reading Roots: The Saga of an American Family, you may notice that Kunta Kinte is unlike other protagonists you’ve read about. How is he unique? What’s special about Kunta Kinte in terms of personality? Lifestyle? What’s unusual about the setting in which he lives?

Use quotes from the book to contrast Kunta Kinte with another famous protagonist you’ve read about, like Percy Jackson, Bella Swan, Harry Potter, or Jim Hawkins. How is Kunta Kinte unlike one of these characters (or another protagonist of your own choice)?