Staying Home

This week’s Dream English Course looks at literature that portrays how women live during times of war, when they are not part of the fight but trying to maintain normalcy during turbulence. I tried to find a range of experiences: different ages, different wars, different countries. And different levels of involvement. Pride and Prejudice barely mentions the wars, while Gone with the Wind is right in the thick of it. The goal is to determine how cultures and lifestyles change during war through a female perspective.

Staying Home


Unit I: Two Sides of the Same Coin (7 weeks)

Texts: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Questions: How does Jo’s experience of the Civil War differ from Scarlett’s? How does war affect their romantic lives? What is the most important to them? How dramatically does the end of the war change their lives?


Unit II: Maintaining Class (3 weeks)

Texts: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Mrs. Dalloway  by Virginia Wolf

Questions: How much of high society can the characters maintain during/after war? What can’t they maintain? How much does the war affect their daily lives? Does it affect the male characters more than the female characters? Why are the social structures so important to the characters?


Unit III: Flirting with the Enemy (3 weeks)

Texts: Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene, Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Questions: How do the areas react to the foreign presence? Under what circumstances are the foreign soldiers there? How do the main characters develop relationships with the soldiers? How do others react to their relationship? What else changes because of their presence?


Unit IV: Adapting

Texts: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, Man by Kim Thuy, Small Island by Andrea Levy

Questions: How does war change the characters’ lives? What decisions do they make that they would not otherwise? Do these decisions keep them safe? What role do secrets play in these novels? How do the characters view the enemy? What parts of their cultures do they hold on to?




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