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A Boy Named Nars


p. 24


Our Storyworks original play introduces students to the myth of Narcissus and Echo--in a hilarious modern reinterpretation!


·Understanding character ·Understanding plot ·Understanding genre


After reading this play, students should be able to: · Identify the main ideas of the cautionary tale ·Describe the characters of Nars, Echo, and Nemesis, and identify their goals ·Compare the play to the original myth of Narcissus ·Discuss the consequences of the main characters' actions


Greek myths and drama: This play combines elements of Greek mythology and drama. Review features of each genre with your students: Myth: explains a natural phenomenon or human behavior; has gods and goddesses. Drama: main character has a flaw that leads to an unhappy ending; features a chorus that comments on the action; reflects human life and shows right from wrong; often based on myths.


If I were there . . . Throughout the play, characters act foolishly and make mistakes that will later harm them. Pause at points to ask students what they would do or say if they were in the scenes.


·What words would you use to describe Nars? Is he a likeable character? Why or why not? (understanding character) Arrogant, conceited, self-absorbed, and goodlooking describe Nars. Students will probably say he is unlikeable because he is conceited.

·What is Echo like in the beginning of the story? (understanding character) She is very talkative, confident, and highachieving. ·How does Echo change when Nars looks her in the eye? What happens when Nars rejects her? Why do you think this is the consequence of his rejection? (understanding plot) Echo falls in love with Nars; she can only repeat others' words after he rejects her. Perhaps this is her punishment for talking about herself rather than listening. ·Why do Nars's parents want to prevent him from joining the swim team? (identifying details) When he was a baby, a prophet warned them that he would fall in love with his reflection if he saw it; they're afraid he'll see himself in the water. ·What role do the Fan Girls play? How does Echo become similar to them? What message do you think readers can get from these characters? (making inferences) The Fan Girls do nothing but follow Nars around. Like them, Echo loses her own character and independence in her pursuit of Nars. Readers can infer that it's silly to spend time fawning over someone instead of just being yourself. ·What does Nemesis think about Nars? In Greek mythology, Nemesis is the goddess of vengeance. Why does she want to get revenge on Nars? (understanding character's motivation) Nemesis thinks Nars is stuck up and wants to get revenge for his heartlessness; he makes girls fall in love with him and never loves them back. ·How do Nars's faults lead to his downfall? (understanding cause and effect) He is so wrapped up in himself that he finally falls hopelessly in love with himself and withers away. ·Why does the play have an unhappy ending for both Nars and Echo? (understanding genre) It is modeled on a Greek drama, where the characters suffer for their flaws. Explaining the cautionary tale: Have students write a paragraph explaining why this play is a "cautionary tale." What do they think it teaches about how people act?

Reviewing the original myth: There are many versions of the Narcissus myth. Download one at /students/mmarassa/mythology/echo. html, or find another you prefer. Read it to your students. What is similar between it and the play? What is different? Role reversal: Arrange students in groups, and have them rewrite Scene I or IV, making Nars a female character and Echo a male. Encourage them to be creative and witty. Have them read their scenes for the class.


Like countless Greek myths, Narcissus has been interpreted by many artists. Print or project Caravaggio's painting of him, found at jpg. What might he be thinking? What would students like to say to him to take his attention off himself?


Narrative: Have students imagine that at the end of the play, Nars and Echo are given one chance to change their behavior and, therefore, their outcomes. Invite them to write a story about what they do. Expository: Explain to students that the word "narcissistic" comes from this myth; it means being completely wrapped up in yourself. Have students write about a time they were narcissistic. What was the outcome? Do they wish they had behaved differently?

Skills and Test-Prep Online Go to to print out the following activities that can be used with this play: ·Comprehension Quiz ·Critical Thinking Questions ·Vocabulary ·Understanding Genre


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