2.1. "One Friday morning" by Langson Hughes. Students:Nils, Cosima, Brianna,Linus

  • One Friday Morning by Langston Hughes - EXCERPT


    "The thrilling news did not come directly to Nancy Lee, but it came in little indirections that finally added themselves up to one tremendous fact: she had won the prize! But being a calm and quiet young lady, she did not say anything, although the whole high school buzzed with rumors, guesses, reportedly authentic announcements
    on the part of students who had no right to be making announcements at all—since no student really knew yet who had won this year’s art scholarship.
    But Nancy Lee’s drawing was so good, her lines so sure, her colors so bright and harmonious, that certainly no other student in the senior art class at George Washington High was thought to have very much of a chance. Yet
    you never could tell. Last year nobody had expected Joe Williams to win the Artist Club scholarship with that funny modernistic water color he had done of the high-level bridge. In fact, it was hard to make out there was a bridge until you had looked at the picture a long time. Still, Joe Williams got the prize, was feted by the
    community’s leading painters, club women, and society folks at a big banquet at the Park-Rose Hotel, and was now an award student at the Art School—the city’s only art school. Nancy Lee Johnson was a colored girl, a few years out of the South. But seldom did her high-school classmates think of her as colored. She was smart, pretty and brown, and fitted in well with the life of the school. She stood
    high in scholarship, played a swell game of basketball, had taken part in the senior musical in a soft, velvety voice, and had never seemed to intrude or stand out, except in pleasant ways so it was seldom even mentioned— her color.
    Nancy Lee sometimes forgot she was colored herself. She liked her classmates and her school. Particularly she like her art teacher, Miss Dietrich, the tall red-haired woman who taught her law and order in doing things; and the beauty of working step by step until a job is done; a picture finished; a design created; or a block print carved
    out of nothing but an idea and a smooth square of linoleum, inked, proofs made, and finally put down on paper —clean, sharp, beautiful, individual, unlike any other in the world, thus making the paper have a meaning
    nobody else could give it except Nancy Lee. That was the wonderful thing about true creation. You made something nobody else on earth could make—but you.
    Miss Dietrich was the kind of teacher who brought out the best in her students—but their own best, not anybody else’s copied best. For anybody else’s best, great though it might be, even Michelangelo’s, wasn’t enough to please Miss Dietrich, dealing with the creative impulses of young men and women living in an American city in
    the Middle West, and being American.Nancy Lee was proud of being American, a Negro American with blood out of Africa a long time ago, too many
    generations back to count. But her parents had taught her the beauties of Africa, its strength, its song, its mighty rivers, its early smelting of iron, its building of the pyramids, and its ancient and important civilizations. And Miss Dietrich had discovered for her the sharp and humorous lines of African sculpture, Benin, Congo,
    Makonde. Nancy Lee’s father was a mail carrier, her mother a social worker in a city settlement house. Both parents had been to Negro colleges in the South. And her mother had gotten a further degree in social work from
    a Northern university. Her parents were, like most Americans, simple, ordinary people who had worked hard and steadily for their education. Now they were trying to make it easier for Nancy Lee to achieve learning than it had been for them. They would be very happy when they heard of the award to their daughter—yet Nancy did not
    tell them. To surprise them would be better. Besides, there had been a promise.
    Casually one day, Miss Dietrich asked Nancy Lee what color frame she thought would be best on her picture.
    That had been the first inkling.
    “Blue,” Nancy Lee said. Although the picture had been entered in the Artist Club contest a month ago, Nancy Lee did not hesitate in her choice of color for the possible frame, since she could still see her picture clearly in
    her mind’s eye—for that picture waiting for the blue frame had come out of her soul, her own life, and had bloomed into miraculous being with Miss Dietrich’s help. It was, she knew, the best water color she had painted in her four years as a high-school art student, and she was glad she had made something Miss Dietrich liked well
    enough to permit her to enter in the contest before she graduated.
    It was not a modernistic picture in the sense that you had to look at it a long time to understand what it meant. It was just a simple scene in the city park on a spring day with the trees still leaflessly lacy against the sky, the new
    grass fresh and green, a flag on a tall pole in the center, children playing, and an old Negro woman sitting on a bench with her head turned. A lot for one picture, to be sure, but it was not there in heavy and final detail like a calendar. Its charm was that everything was light and airy, happy like spring, with a lot of blue sky, paper-white
    clouds, and air showing through. You could tell that the old Negro woman was looking at the flag, and that the flag was proud in the spring breeze, and that the breeze helped to make the children’s dresses billow as they
    Miss Dietrich had taught Nancy Lee how to paint spring, people, and a breeze on what was only a plain white piece of paper from the supply closet. But Miss Dietrich had not said make it like any other spring-people-breeze
    ever seen before. She let it remain Nancy Lee’s own. That is how the old Negro woman happened to be there looking at the flag—for in her mind the flag, the spring, and the woman formed a kind of triangle holding a
    dream Nancy Lee wanted to express. White stars on a blue field, spring, children, ever-growing life, and an old woman. Would the judges at the Artist Club like it?
    One wet, rainy April afternoon Miss O’Shay, the girls’ vice principal, sent for Nancy Lee to stop by her office as
    school closed. Pupils without umbrellas or raincoats were clustered in doorways hoping to make it home
    between showers. Outside the skies were gray. Nancy Lee’s thoughts were suddenly gray, too..”


    Continuity - analyzing the excerpt so as to write a meaningful continuation


    Use the Twinboards underneath to analyze ONE of the following features of the short story:


    A.) Characters: Are they flat or round characters? What do they believe in?

    B.) What is the narrative perspective? Is the narrator outside the story? Is the narrator inside the story? Is the narrator outside the story, but still sees events through the eyes of one character (e.g. is there a focalizer?)

    C.) Short stories typically follow a certain pattern. At the beginning there is a balance of sorts, until a problem arises and a crisis eventually reaches a climax, and ideally is resolved. Where exactly are we in the story? 

    D.) Very often, major themes of the plot are encapsulated in symbols, e.g. "things" which are charged with meaning, which reoccur several times. Can you identify such a symbol here? 

    E) IB students - to which course theme can you link the story (Identities, Experiences, Human Ingenuity, Social Organization, Sharing the planet)?

  • Continuity - Comment on the aspects here!

    Mr Fischer, Hannover: Narrative perspective

    We clearly have a narrator here who is outside the story, because the narrator refers to the characters with "she" or the characters' names. However, "Nancy Lee" is the main character, and we see things through her eyes, which is why she is the focalizer here.

    Linus Character and Pattern

    I think, we can not really tell if she is a flat or round character, as she only describes her environment and the other people.
    On the one hand, she/ her situation seems to be very uncomplicated and simple, but on the other hand, the narrator often mentions that she is black which could be a problem.
    It would make sense to continue the story in both ways flat or round.
    The Story follows an often-used pattern.
    As in a lot of stories, in the beginning, she/ the main character seems to be the well-integrated, almost ideal teenager and then something happens that drastically changes her situation.
    The problem begins to arise at the very end of our excerpt.

    Linus Symbol

    The Narrator often mentions the word scholarship, which could stand for her having no chance to go to a college without one, as she does not have a rich background. In general that white and black people don't have equal opportunities
    Art is a big Topic in the excerpt and could have been chosen because it is a way to express oneself. Black people often could not do that as they were suppressed. This is underlined by her black teacher always telling her to create your own art/ express your self.

    Feedback Mr Fischer

    Dear Linus,
    I cannot argue with what you write.
    However, you could consider adding "Grammarly" to your browser, as there are quite a few language issues here. Other than that: Well done

    c) Pattern, Cosima

    At the beginning, it seems like the story is already in progress, because it directly addresses the main plot and the circumstances which are pushing the story forward. It is not easy for the reader to find out where he is located in the story, especially due to the unchronological narration, but little by little, the setup is described. Characters are introduced, as well as the character traits, the outer appearance and background of the protagonist. The George Washington High is named as the main location of the story, and the events leading up to the plot which was started in the beginning become clearer. In the end of the excerpt, we can see that the story slowly develops tension and tries to gain the readers attention for the upcoming event. All in all, the excerpt is located at the very beginning of the story.

    Symbols, Brianna

    In our excerpt „One Friday Morning“ by Langston Hughes, we can distinguish a few symbols mentioned in the text.
    First of all, the word „scholarship“ is relatively often used. As racism is a major theme in the short story, I would argue that this word could represent the hope and inspiration for people, who has been surpressed.
    Another symbol could be „the flag“, which can symbolise the American Dream. As mentioned before it can stand for the hope of liberty and justice for all.
    Last but not least, „Miss Dietrich“ can also be seen as a symbol. She stands for somebody, who looks past someone’s skin colour and teach them how to be a good artist. And she does all this without being judgemental.

    Feedback FIS to Cosima and Brianna

    Again: I can't argue with so much common sense.
    As for the symbols, I think it is a good idea to stick with the American flag.
    The character itself may be a stock character, but to regard a character as a symbol might be taking things too far.

    Feeback 1 Linus
    C) Nils Part 1

    In the begining of the story the character is introduced, Nancy is described and her goal is clearly established. Her background description is the main focus since in this story her personal charactersitics isn't the main point, but instead the authus chooses to focus on her families history to make this a general story that can apply to any person in her situation. Since the goal is clearly established in the begining to can make a guess that the climax of the story will be centered around the point in time when she will get the result about the painting.

    C) Nils part 2

    The authur does a good job of making us unsure if she is going to win or not, by in the begining making her talk like if she is going to win, however in the end changing the tone with the weather to make it more uncertain symbolised by the grey skies. Most of the story is the exposition about up until "Besides, there had been a promise.". From there I would say that the rising action (building of tension) takes place and the climax will be just after this text ends when she goes to meet the vice principal in her office.

    Feedback 2 Cosima
    Feedback 3 Brianna
    Linus feedback 1
    Feedback 4 Nils