A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.
- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

High school literary analysis would not be complete without an examination of John Steinbeck's seminal work, The Grapes of Wrath.

John Steinbeck was a master storyteller and one of America's most prolific writers. While he considered both California and New York City to be his home at various times in his life, the whole of America held a mythic vision in Steinbeck's eyes. He loved to travel and meet its people, incorporating those real life accounts, experiences and characters in his work.

Combining his gift for journalism with his aptitude for visceral, descriptive fiction, The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of a family from Oklahoma, the Joads, during the economic and agricultural downturn of the 1930s. Decades later this novel is remembered not only for its historical relevance, but also for its immediate emotional impact, compelling characters and epic, layered plot.

This four-week class will examine the importance of The Grapes of Wrath in American literature, and in the context of the historical events of the time period. We'll discuss concepts of migration, optimism, imagery and archetypes in the novel. We'll investigate the idea of art as social protest and the significance of The Grapes of Wrath as a banned book.

Students will complete short, thought-provoking exercises and engage in lively discussion surrounding the plot points, literary devices and reflections on the readings for each week. Students will be expected to comment thoughtfully and respectfully on responses written by other students.

Our last week will tie together what students have learned about The Grapes of Wrath into a larger writing project of 500-1000 words. Here, students get to leap into the pool of literary analysis, connecting their own dots and sharing their interpretations of what they've read.

IMPORTANT: This is a reading-intensive class. The Grapes of Wrath is over 500 pages by most counts. It is recommended that your child be a strong reader, at the 9th grade level or higher.

To stay in sync with the pace of the class, students will need to have read Chapters 1-10 before class begins.

Important Note: In Brave Writer, we read a wide range of essays and literature that address a wide variety of perspectives and that include time-bound references. Please be aware that you may experience strong reactions to what you read. In choosing to include a variety of literary selections, we open the door to big juicy conversations that contribute to the greater dialogue about racism, sexism, classism and socioeconomic differences, and other prejudices held in the past and, in some quarters, to this day. By using literature as a teaching tool to foster understanding and growth, we have the opportunity to discuss these evolving ideologies.

We encourage you to pre-read books and essays to determine their appropriateness for your family and to prepare to have discussions on these topics with your students as they participate in the class.

Class Structure Description

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!