A Writer's Notebook Brainstorm inspired by a Great Poem
Focus Trait: IDEA DEVELOPMENT Support Trait: VOICE

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Tillbury Town Tales:
A Butcher's Story

teaching students to record interpretations interestingly in their writer's notebook

Student Writer Instructions:

E. A. Robinson's poem "Reuben Bright" becomes much more interesting when you realize the they and them in lines #5 and #6 are never identified by the poet.  In the hands of a creative thinker, this poem can be interpreted multiple ways.

Think of all the different people who could be the they and them from the poem who tell Reuben his wife must die.  Make a two-column list: on one side, list who the they and them might be; on the other side, list a reason why they tell Reuben she must die.  Use the button below to explore some possibilities, but you are encouraged to be creative with your own original ideas.

After you have a list of possibilities, you will need to choose one.  You will be writing three diary entries in the voice of Reuben Bright, and your diary entries will make it very clear which they and them you have chosen for your interpretation of this poem.

For your first diary entry, you will imagine it is the evening on the day that Reuben has been told his wife "must die" by the they and them.  In this first diary entry, Reuben will react to what he has heard from the they and them.

For your second diary entry, you will imagine it is the day after Mrs. Bright has died.  In this second diary entry, Reuben will react to how it all happened.

For your third diary entry, you will imagine it is an hour after Reuben has torn down the slaughter house.  In your final diary entry you must explain Reuben's thinking for tearing it down.


Interactive Choices for Writing:

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Who might the they and them be in "Reuben Bright?"

If your class brainstorms other theys and thems not included here, please e-mail them to us at webmaster@writingfix.com.

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