“In 1898, the year before Ernest Hemingway was born, his parents bought 200 feet of frontage on Walloon Lake in northern Michigan, out in the backlands of Petoskey, a coastal resort town… Yet even Hemingway fans might draw a blank on his Michigan connection. Havana, Key West, Ketchum, Paris, Pamplona — these locales tend to conjure vintage Papa: a kerchiefed, bloated, rum-drunk Nobel laureate. Petoskey? Not so much. The gatekeepers of Hemingway’s legend have largely ignored the place… But if you want to understand the writer, you have to start here.” J. O’Connor, NYT
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: |When Hemingway Was a Young Fisherman in Michigan By John O’Connor, The New York Times
“Absolutely the best trout fishing in the country. No exaggeration, he [Hemingway] later wrote to a friend about the Petoskey area, perhaps exaggerating a tad but hitting on an essential truth of summer in the Michigan boonies: It’s a great place to laze around and swim and fish when you want to. And the best place in the world to do nothing. It is beautiful country … And nobody knows about it but us.
By all accounts, northern Michigan had a seismic effect on Ernest Hemingway and his future work. It was a place where men lived hard and lean, ran trotlines and considered bilge water a beverage. Good stuff for essays, he wrote in a 1916 journal entry, recording fishing trip details he would later channel into Nick Adams stories.
It’s an odd juxtaposition to think of Hemingway, years later, sipping espresso in Paris cafes while writing about Nick Adams — a semi-autobiographical stand-in for the author’s own manly wanderings in the Michigan wilds…Probably the river most people associate with Hemingway is the Two-Hearted in the Upper Peninsula, thanks to Big Two-Hearted River. An archetype of minimalism, the story depicts Adams as a veteran wrestling with the trauma of war while trout fishing in deepest Michigan. Northern Michigan was his first Eden, and it got seared into his emotions. From that came great stories.”
Additional Lesson Plans for stories by Hemingway:
Remember: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The Hemingways were fresh off a luxury steamship.
- They were looking to leave the suburbs.
- Hemingway did not exaggerate about trout fishing in Michigan.
- Northern Michigan had a seismic effect on Ernest Hemingway.
- He noted fishing trip details he would later channel into Nick Adams stories.
- It’s an odd juxtaposition to think of Hemingway, years later, sipping espresso in Paris cafes.
- It’s beautiful to see Michigan’s terraced farmland dusted with pollen.
- Hemingway has several hallowed fishing spots.
- The story Big Two-Hearted River is an archetype of minimalism.
- The village of Horton Bay was a major fixture of Hemingway’s adolescence.
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Despite/spite having gown/grown up three/thee hours south of Petoskey and having fished many/money of the locust/local waters that Hemingway did, I couldn’t recall/recalls ever sitting/setting foot in the town. Nowadays I live out East and rarely/rare find my way back home. And so, in June, I finally maid/made it to Michigan, intent/intense on tracing Hemingway’s boyhood obit/orbit and seeing the country where Nick Adams came of age.
Grammar Focus: Preposition Exercise
Prepositions: in, for, of, with, by, on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over, through, from, during, up, off,
Directions: The following sentences are from the news article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed above. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.
The Petoskey area is absolutely the best trout fishing ___the country. And the best place ___the world___ do nothing.
Driving___ the east coast___ Lake Michigan___ Glen Arbor, I cut___the pinkie of Michigan’s mitten to Traverse City.
___ Petoskey, which sits ___a bluff overlooking Little Traverse Bay, a warm breeze swept ____the lake and wheeled and skidded___the streets.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.
- The following two statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.
“It’s an odd juxtaposition to think of Hemingway, years later, sipping espresso in Paris cafes while writing about Nick Adams — a semi-autobiographical stand-in for the author’s own manly wanderings in the Michigan wilds.”
“Lots of people dislike Hemingway for some pretty good reasons, like machine-gunning mako sharks from his boat or the ugly vein of misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism that litters his fiction and personal correspondence.”
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about Ernest Hemingway from the article, two things they did not understand, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.