Teacher's Guide to interpretation

2. Sample

Excerpt from Thematic Unit 2 ( Part I; Chapters 2-4 )

Introductory Information and Interpretation

Reid Pierson a favourite of the American Dream
. . . However, today´s version of this dream is that of overnight personal success, fortune and fame built on the culture of Hollywood.
There is no doubt that, according to the contemporary version of the American Dream, Reid Pierson´s career, too, is the implementation of this American ideal. As the son of poor people in Moose Lake, Washington, Reid grew up "in circumstances of hunger" (19/19). Later he became an athlete, a professional football star and finally a successful and famous sportscaster. His extraordinary rapid personal success and fame as a reporter "for sports on TV" (11/27) have enabled him an "elegant lifestyle" (16/30). Thus the Piersons built a new house in a classy, posh part of Seattle overlooking Lake Washington and the Evergreen Floating Bridge, a postmodernist house "designed by a famous Japanese American Seattle architect". (35/11f) It is so extravagant that it even featured in magazines like Seattle Life and Architectural Digest. However, a consequence of this exclusiveness is a loss of interpersonal and social contacts that Francesca regrets: "We´d been living in an older, smaller house closer to downtown Seattle, in what was called an ethnically diverse neighborhood. I had lots of friends there and hated to move". (36/31ff) . . .

Father / mother relationship
. . . As a great celebrity, however, he is invited to take part in "gigantic banquets and cocktail receptions, fund-raisers that were always honoring Reid Pierson …" (28/15f). Of course he likes these events when he is in the limelight, but not without his wife for "it would look peculiar if Reid Pierson came by himself". (29/5f) But his wife, Krista, does not like to be his showpiece or arm-candy, for on these occations she is not regarded as a person but ignored by everybody "looking through [her] as if she didn´t exist". (28/19f) Here Krista, who had once been a TV announcer herself, feels not only disrespected but also bored, for there are always the same people "saying the same kinds of things." (28/35). Although she sometimes would like to stay at home on such occasions, her husband insists on her company, for he . . .

Adolescent Franky
Fifteen-year old Franky Pierson has to undergo an important period in her life, puberty. It is the time when children begin to mature biologically, psychologically, socially and cognitively and it leads to adolescence, the transitional period between childhood and adulthood. This is quite a difficult time for her, as she is no longer a child, but not an adult yet either. Her overwhelming concern is her personal orientation, finding her own personality. Thus she wavers in her decisions and is uncertain how to react or behave. A first help to cope with this state of vacillation is the discovery of "Freaky Green Eyes", her pugnacious alter ego, or her inner voice. Soon Franky recognizes that Freaky, her second-self, is "aggressive by nature. But hesitant sometimes to show it". (21/5f) However, Freaky enables her . . .

Father / daughter relationship
As a general rule a father´s demeanour has a large impact on the way a daughter will mature in her later life, for thanks to his life experiences he can provide her valuable guidance and advice. From a child, he is his daughter´s advisor, model, and prop when she starts to mature into adolescence. This is also true of the relationship between Reid Pierson and his daughter, Franky, for Reid helps her to nurture her talents and to achieve her goals. Like her dad, who used to be an athlete, she is fond of sports and practices "swimming and diving sometimes to the point of exhaustion, because [she] wanted Dad to be proud of [her] someday." (21/30f) Thus she tries to live up to her father´s expectations. Although she adores and sometime idolizes him and craves for his approval, she also fears him knowing that you had better not provoke him. As far as her position in the conflict between mom and dad is concerned, she is in a quandary. Though she often finds fault with her mother, she is neither willing to laugh at Reid´s mockery and thus betray her, nor does she frown and express disapproval of his sneer but keeps her "face stony neutral." (18/29) . . .

Mother / daughter relationship
This relationship is the one that is most strongly troubled with problems of adolescence. The first strong bonding in infancy is with the mother, for she is the person to whom a child is most closely attached. But experience shows that, as a rule, boys break away at an early age so as to identify with their fathers, whereas daughters struggle all their lives to separate from their mothers. However, it is during the years of adolescence that the close emotional ties to their mother begin to break and their relationship undergoes severe conflicts and strain. The reason is that adolescent daughters try to discover and understand themselves and to establish their own identity. The confusion of self-discovery and the mental and emotional suffering of separation are usually characterized by the daughter's rebellion against her mother's opinion and lifestyle.
Taking sides with her famous dad, Francesca Pierson blames her mother accusing her of provoking him, (cf. 28/8, 39/25, 40/5f and 40/14) while she excuses Reid´s eruptions as a part of his " ′personality ′". (40/15) . . .


Teaching Suggestions

1. Comprehension check: questions and quotes

1.1 Answer the following questions:

- The good news on April 18th was that Reid Pierson had signed a new contract with the
network. What was the "less-than-good news"? (cf. 15/15f)

- Franky still remembers her 10th birthday. Why? (cf. 15/30ff)

- Why does Franky´s mother leave for Santa Barbara, California? (cf. 16/20f) . . .

1.2 Put the following quotes into the context showing their significance in the novel:

- "The scarfs Mom began wearing. Beautiful bright-colored silky scarfs. And shawls. And
long-sleeved shirts, pullovers
". (30/3f)

- "Mom wasn´t Todd´s actual?biological?mother. ... His mother (Dad´s first wife) had died ...." (31/15f)

? "For God´s sake, Krista. You look like a field worker. " (32/19) . . .

2. Reid Pierson

2.1 A favourite of the American Dream?

In order to make sure that the students understand the notion of the American Dream, they should be handed out Copy Master 5 . . . To offer further information and a deeper insight into this matter the additional text The USA, a country where everything is possible? (StB. p. 150) may be dealt with already at this stage.

Basing your view on Copy Master 5 to what extent can Reid Pierson´s career be regarded as the realization of this American ideal? Find typical quotations.

These quotes are presented on the blackboard . . .



  Freaky Green Eyes Teacher's Guide Cover  

Freaky Green Eyes, Teacher`s Guide to Interpretation


1. Didactic and Methodical Considerations

2. Sample



2.2 Creative writing:

The Piersons´ new house was designed after Mr Pierson´s fancy. Write Mrs Pierson´s letter to her sister in which she gives a description of this house expressing her personal attitude towards it.

According to the contemporary version of the American Dream, i.e. overnight personal success, fortune, and fame built on the culture of Hollywood, there is no doubt that Reid Pierson´s career is indeed the realization of this ideal.

3. Father / mother relationship

Analyse the relationship between Franky´s parents by answering the following questions and backing your answers by appropriate quotes.

3.1 Reid Pierson likes being invited to banquets, cocktail receptions, fund-raisers. Why does his
wife refuse to accompany him?

On these occasions Reid regards his wife as his showpiece or arm-candy. . .

3.2 How does Reid react to Krista´s dislike of these public appearances. What are his motives?

He insists on her company, for he expects her to be grateful to have such a famous husband "who wants [her] to appear in public with him, who´s still in love with [her]" (29/17f) even though she is already "pushing forty". (29/16) . . .

4. Francesca Pierson

4.1 Adolescent Franky

a) Why does Franky waver so much in her decisions and feels uncertain in her reactions or behaviour?

As a fifteen-year-old girl, Franky Pierson has to live through an important period in her life, adolescence . . .

b) What role does Freaky Green Eyes play in this respect?

Freaky Green Eyes is like a guidepost or orientation guide in this difficult period of Franky´s life. . .

4.2 Father / daughter relationship

a) Describe the role Reid Pierson plays at this early stage in his daughter´s life.
. . . Although she is eager to correspond to her father´s expectations, craves for his approval and adores and sometimes idolizes him, she fears him and knows that she had better not provoke him.

b) What stance does she take up on the conflict between her parents?

. . .The consequences of her precarious position between her parents, Franky´s constant uncertainty, her abeyance between hope and fear and the suppression of her feelings, are sleeplessness, (cf. 30/11) e-mail messages for help to her brother, (cf. 30/16ff) distrustfulness, (cf. 38/19ff) absent-mindedness, day-dreaming, withdrawal and depressiveness. (cf. 38/25ff)

4.3 Mother / daughter relationship

a) A daughter's confusion of self-discovery and her mental and emotional suffering of separation during adolescence are usually characterized by a rebellion against her mother's opinion and lifestyle. Find out to what extent this is also true of Franky´s relation to her mother.

Indeed, Franky´s attitude towards her mother is rather problematic. She often sides with her famous dad and blames her mother accusing her of provoking him, (cf. 28/8, 39/25, 40/5f and 40/14) while she excuses Reid´s eruptions as a part of his " ′personality ′". (40/15) When she overhears a quarrel between her parents she feels scorn for her mother´s "high-pitched" (27/1f) voice that is rolled over "like thunder rolling across the sky". (27/2f) This is perhaps a sign that she gradually despises her timid mother for being so thoroughly dominated by her husband. Then the relation between them becomes more and more strained for Franky admits that: "In Mom´s presence I began to be very quiet. And Mom was becoming ever more quiet with me." (30/8ff) She feels that there is "a new stiffness between [them], "for she is not "her little Francesca any longer". (32/4f) Gradually she begins to resent her unnatural smile that seems to be "stapled onto [her] face". (31/27) . . .

5. Grammatical assignment

Reported Speech:

Tell a friend what Franky wrote in her second e-mail to her brother Todd (41/19-29)

Suggested solution:
Franky wrote that she was sorry to bother him again. Then she asked him if he knew that their mother was fixing up the cabin in Skagit Harbor, and that she had just told her that she would be going up there sometimes. But she had said that there wasn´t any divorce, neither now nor in the future. Then Franky asked ...

Before starting Thematic Unit 3, the students should have read the chapters 5 to 8, and made notes (possibly in groups) on the consequences of Mrs Pierson´s periodical absence

a) The effects on Francesca and
b) Mr Pierson´s reactions



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