How to take notes on Animal Farm and Things Fall Apart.Understanding of human conditions Appreciation of the author’s craft The experience of reading Knowledge of the world and your place in it...

How to take notes on Animal Farm and Things Fall Apart.

Understanding of human conditions

Appreciation of the author’s craft

The experience of reading

Knowledge of the world and your place in it

Connections to different things you’ve read

 

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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To best identify moments that relate to "Knowledge of the world and your place in it" you may be helped by selecting a character or two to track. The characters selected should be those who you most connect with, empathize with, or relate to. 

Selecting out a character like this can help to give us an avatar as a reader, a stand-in inside the story through which we can see the world of the fiction and in that way enhance our "knowledge of the world and our place in it". 

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If you can buy both books, I'd suggest annotating. You can assign a different color to each of your topics. Then, as you read identify elements for each one and highlight them in that color. This also works almost as well with colored post it notes or flags.
clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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If you own the books, I have often found it helpful to use highlighters or different colored pens as I read to mark passages and quotes that support different themes in different colors.  (If you do not own the books and cannot mark them, multi-colored post-its serve a similar purpose.)  Often, it is difficult to go back and find select passages after reading the entire novel.  On the other hand, it is also difficult to know what passages or quotes are good pieces of evidence before you have a real grasp on the fullness of each theme.  My best advice is to jot down (or highlight) textual evidence which seems to support one of your above topics.  Then, when you've finished reading (and have been engaged in class discussion for a while) go back and look at your lists or what you've highlighted.  You will have a better idea of things to hang on to (perhaps for an essay) and things to ignore.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

For Animal Farm, take notes on things that make it clear that human ambition kills any chance of significant reform.  Orwell is using this book to argue that there will always be oppression because even people who take power hoping to reform things end up being corrupted by that power.

Also, take notes on things that help you understand why the people stand for this.  Look at the attitudes of Mollie and of Boxer and the contributions of Moses.  Think about the impact of the things that Squealer says.

These questions can help you understand what Orwell is saying about the human condition.

lsumner's profile pic

lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is the protagonist or main character. He is driven by a fear of being labled as his lazy father was labled.

Okonkwo believes in hard work. He insists that his family works as hard as he works. He has achieved titles and is a leader in the community. He is a great wrestler and great warrior.

Driven by a fear of being labled lazy as his father was, Okonkwo lives his life without pleasure. He is angry all the time. He pounces on people for the least thing. He is abusive to his family.

By the end of the story, Okonkwo cannot handle the changes that are occurring. He cannot rally his tribesmen to fight the white man who has come in to convert the tribe into Christianity. When Okonkwo's efforts fail, he loses all hope and commits suicide. He hangs himself and dies with dishonor.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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You have given a range of topics. I guess the easiest way to start is just by going through each prompt in turn and considering your own response to it. Firstly, what did you learn about human conditions through reading these texts? What did reading Animal Farm teach you about Communism and Russia underneath the tyranny of Stalin? Likewise, what did you learn about Africa and how Christianity was introduced through reading Things Fall Apart?

Certainly, the appreciation of the author's craft would relate to what techniques and literary devices were used in each work. You would want to talk about the allegorical nature of Animal Farm and the way that African tribal life is brought to life in Things Fall Apart. Your own experience of reading would concern things such as what surprised you or your own expectations as you read these books. What suprised you? What did you not expect?

The last two questions would relate again to what you learnt from these texts. What have you taken away from reading and studying them? What valuable life lessons have you learnt? What other texts do they remind you of?

Hope these questions help! Good luck.

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