Making the Unbelievable Believable

Jennifer Osburn, English, Myers Park High School

Final Unit (PDF)     Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)

200 Word Synopsis

We find truth in ourselves, our stories, and what we “will” or shape into being by using words. Life of Pi is a text in which the protagonist tells an extraordinary story of survival. This fantastical, metaphoric story is a prosthetic narrative: a crutch. In this five-week Life of Pi unit, I connect my students with ideas about disability and instruct them in reading and developing those ideas in close reading activities, journaling, color marking, and a Socratic seminar. By inviting my students to make assertions and explore their understanding of disability, in particular the prosthetic narrative, they begin seeing disability in other texts they study. The art of storytelling and close reading of stories makes even more sense as students recognize the essence of the prosthetic narrative; we lean on disability to foster truth, or what we will. We learn from Pi that we have choices. We can try to be reasonable, rational creatures, or we can exercise our imagination, listen to our heart—not our head—and allow stories to serve as prosthetic narratives, which in turn serves to save us by making the unbelievable believable.