Novel Study: Crispin

CRISPIN by Avi

 

I. Collect your materials:
 A. Crispin by Avi 
B. Paper, pen, dictionary

II. Acquire some background knowledge:
A. Watch a film on the Middle Ages.  Click HERE to watch one about peasant life.
B. Browse through some books on the Middle Ages in England.
C.Complete a vocabulary assignment on some of the key words in the novel. (Click HERE.)
D. Click HERE to listen to some excerpts online. 

III. Review some background skills:

A. Expectations for a paragraph:
1.    begins with the chosen topic sentence, continues with 3-7 supporting sentences, and concludes with an emotive sentence
2.   is written in present tense, using the participle form for past tense (click HERE for examples)
3.    contains page numbers as evidence
4.    contains quotations as evidence
5.    employs figures of speech such as alliteration, similes and metaphors
6.    includes transition words and phrases
7.    employs literary devices such as parallel structure and varying sentence lengths
8.    displays correct spelling, punctuation and grammar without using contractions
9.    is indented and neatly written by hand or on computer
10.    displays a title, name, division and date

B. Method for writing a paragraph:

1. Read the choices for a topic sentence.
2. Keep them in mind as you read the relevant pages.
3. Choose one of the topic sentences.
4. Briefly write down all the examples you can remember that relate to your chosen sentence.
5. Go back and find the relevant page numbers.
6. Copy any quotations that might add liveliness to your writing. Do not forget the page numbers!
7. Add any more examples you can find.
8.  Sequence your notes so that they flow logically or chronologically.
9. Write the topic sentence.

10. Turn your notes into smooth sentences and add the page numbers.
11. Write a concluding sentence.

C. Three ways to organize a paragraph:

1. Topic sentence.  Evidence ( __ ) .  Transition word, more evidence ( __ ) .  Transition word, more evidence ( __ ) . Rephrased topic sentence.


2. Topic sentence.  Evidence: “quotation” ( __ ) .  Transition word, more evidence: “quotation” ( __ ) . Transition word, more evidence: “quotation” ( __ ) . Rephrased topic sentence.


3. Topic sentence.  “Quotation…” name verb explanation ( __ ) . Transition word, “quotation…” name verb explanation ( __ ) . Transition word, “quotation…” name verb explanation ( __ ) . Rephrased topic sentence.

D. Tips for including quotations:
Leave out the parts that ruin the flow of your own writing.
NOT GOOD:  Bear has told Crispin that he needs to “speak boldly, not merely to strangers, but even to those above his station and that it was all in the eyes” (154).
GOOD: Bear has told Crispin that he needs to “speak boldly, not merely to strangers, but even to those above his station and…” to look people in the eye (154).
NOT GOOD: Bear has taught Crispin “how to make snares Bear used to catch rabbits and birds” (155).
GOOD:  Bear has taught Crispin “how to make snares…to catch rabbits and birds” (155).

IV. Procedure:
•  For each section of the novel, read the relevant pages and then choose a topic sentence and write an evidentiary paragraph.

A.    Read pages 1 – 31.
1.    Crispin lives in a religious society.
2.    Crispin lives in a restrictive society.
3.    Crispin lives in a time of societal unrest.

B.    Read pages 31 – 59.
1.    Crispin is in danger.  (You may include evidence from p. 1-30, as well.)
2.    Crispin is brave.
3.    Crispin’s beliefs in God are helping him survive.

C.    Read pages 59 – 92.
1.    Crispin is not accustomed to making decisions for himself.
2.    Crispin is fortunate to have met Bear.
3.    Crispin lives in a cruel society.

D.    Read pages 92 – 122.
1.    Crispin lives in a feudal society.
2.    Crispin believes his hard life is due to his own sinfulness.
3.    Bear is a wise man.

E.    Read pages 122 – 152.
1.    Bear wants to change the society in which he lives.
2.    Crispin deserves to be paid for his work.
3.    Crispin is wise to lie to strangers.

F.    Read pages 152 – 182.
1.    Crispin is learning many new skills.
2.    Bear is good to Crispin.
3.    Great Wexley is a dirty, crowded town.

G.    Read pages 182 – 211.
1.    Great Wexley’s market is full of goods from around the world.
2.    Crispin is becoming a tougher person.
3.    Crispin lives in a changing society.

H.    Read pages 211 – 239.
1.    Crispin is becoming more a more observant person.
2.    Crispin’s beliefs in God are changing.
3.    Crispin is becoming less obedient.

I.    Read pages 239 – 272.
1.    Crispin realizes that all people are equal.
2.    Crispin values friendship more than his own freedom.
3.    Crispin is a threat to the rulers of his society.

J.    Read pages 273 – 297.
1.    Aycliffe wants to preserve the existing societal structure.
2.    Crispin is more powerful than Aycliffe.
3.    Crispin has learned how to be free.

V.    RESPOND TO THE BOOK

A.    Tell what you think. Write either one paragraph or a 5-paragraph essay using one of these topic sentences. (Outline for essay: introduction; how the topic is shown in the novel; how the topic is shown in life nowadays; your personal opinion; conclusion.)
1. Religion can be used to control people.
2. Societal change can be instigated by the powerless.
3. In the midst of despair, there can still be hope.
4. There is a difference between religion that is used to control others and religion that enables people to help others.

B.  Show what you feel.
1. Create a surreal collage illustrating one part of the story.
2. With classmates, act out part of the story.
3. Write a found poem of at least 15 lines that reflects emotions from the story.

[This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided:
©2012 Sophie Rosen.]

Tips for Crispin F:
1. Notice this change in written English…
Old rule: put commas between adjectives:
” Great Wexley is a large, dirty, crowded town.”
New custom: don’t put commas between adjectives:
” Great Wexley is a large dirty crowded town.”
2.  Notice all the details on these pages:
159, 160, 161, 163, 167, 168, 169, 171, 182
3. Take notes in these categories: people, clothing,  crowding, animals, filth, houses
4. Sequence the categorized notes.
5. Turn the notes into smooth sentences.
6. Add the page numbers.
7. Write the topic sentence. Add your evidentiary sentences. Write a concluding sentence.

Tips for Crispin G:
1. Choose a topic sentence and revise it: Crispin is becoming a more mature young man.
2.  Notice all the details on these pages:
        182, 183, 184, 186, 189-190, 192, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 202-203, 211
3. Take notes in these categories:
    curious about the world,
    enjoys the unknown,
    make plans,
    makes decisions,
    courageous,
    strong,
    recognizes true friends
4. Sequence the categorized notes.
5. Turn the notes into smooth sentences.
6. Add the page numbers.
7. Write the topic sentence. Add your evidentiary sentences. Write a concluding sentence.


 

Some examples by eighth grade students:

Crispin is becoming a tougher person. From anyone’s point of view, young Crispin has become a lot more rugged than before. Strolling along the safe streets doing his duties for Bear, Crispin is getting bored and decides to be brave and have a little fun so, he decides to take a new path and cautiously walk threw the long, lanky back alley to get to his designated destination as quickly as possible (183). Once he has safely gotten to his destination, Crispin is dumbfounded by the fact that the great church he wants to enter has two soldiers guarding the gate to get in.  Being named a wolf’s head, Crispin is very frightened, but he eventually gains just the right amount of courage and struts right threw the great  church gates untouched (190). “… I was feeling bold and quite sure of myself. I don’t need Bear to see the world, I thought”(191). Once in the inside, Crispin notices a problem right away: John Aycliffe, the steward from Stromford, notices Crispin. He abruptly rises from prayers and yells at his soldiers to capture Crispin (193). Crispin runs but a soldier grasps him by the shoulder and brings him to a halt.  Despite being greeted by two more of Aycliffe’s soldiers, though, Crispin pulls out his dagger, ready to fend for his life. Just before he is about to go for a jab, he gets wacked in the wrist by one soldier and then  bear hugged by another. But Crispin, head-butting the man in the chest and some how slithers out of the tight grasp and runs away frantically to get to Bear (194). Overall, it is obvious that Crispin is a braver, bolder person who not only makes his own decisions but also fends for his own safety.  [Dane]

Crispin lives in a religious society. He, himself, is very strong in his relationship with God. And the loss of his mother brings him even closer to God. He goes to church almost every day to talk and pray with the priest. Since his mother has died, the priest is the only one who still cares about him. Father Quinel says, “Come to church Asta’s son, we will pray,” (4). Later, Crispin thinks, “Unlike our perfect Jesus, I was filled with caution and suspicion,” (13). Then, the priest gives Crispin a hand-sized cross from his mother, which is important to him not only because it has come from his mother, but also because it is a religious symbol.  Crispin is a religious boy who lives in a day and age in which religion plays a vital role. (Jake)

Crispin clearly is in danger.  He says that he is afraid of being caught by the angry steward, Aycliffe (11).  Father Quinel tells him that there are “…Judas lurking” (33). Crispin then tells the priest that when he ran away after his mother was buried, he witnessed a suspicious meeting between Aycliffe and a stranger (34). And the priest responds by saying that Aycliffe has declared Crispin a wolf’s head, which means that he is no longer considered human and that anyone can kill him (36). Later, Crispin discovers that anyone who does kill him will be paid 20 shillings (47).  Obviously, Crispin’s life is in great danger!

Crispin certainly lives in a time of fear. After Crispin’s mother, Asta, dies,”‘…deliver the ox to the manor house as the death tax…”'(4) and all the villagers, including Crispin, live in fear; even small transgressions bring”an unforgiving penalty….whipping, a clipping of the ear, imprisonment, or a cut-off hand” (4). Aycliffe, the steward of the manor, is really mean to other villagers (3) and tries to kill Crispin, who escapes to the forest to sleep in loneliness (11-18). The next day, he goes, full of fear and uncertainty, to the church, the only place he can escape from the people who want to kill him (31). Without a doubt, Crispin surely lives in a time when people are full of societal unrest. (Ina)

Bear wants to change the society in which he lives. He has joined a group of people trying to make life better for people in England (137). He wants everyone to enjoy freedom (138). He explains to Crispin that he is travelling around England so that he can gather information about the problems people are facing  (139). Bear, a good man, wants to improve conditions for the poor people in his society.

Bear wants to change the society in which he lives. He has joined a group of people trying to make life better for people in England. “‘Crispin”’ he says, “‘I’m a part of a…brotherhood. It’s to make things better. To bring some changes”’ (137). He wants everyone to be able to make their own decisions and so adds, “‘… I merely wish to bring some of that freedom you seek”’ (138). He explains to Crispin that he is traveling around England so that he can gather information about the problems the people are facing Bear says that he “‘…promised this … brotherhood that in my travels I’d survey the kingdom. That I would bring them the judgement of my observations”’ (139). All this shows that bear, a good man, wants to improve conditions for the poor people in his society. (Tyler)

Bear wants to change the society in which he lives. “‘Crispin,'” he says, “‘I’m part of a… brotherhood. It’s to make things better. To bring some changes'”(137). He adds, “‘… I merely wish to bring some of that freedom you seek'”(138). Then he explains to Crispin that he “‘… promised this… brotherhood that in my travels I’d survey the kingdom. That I would bring them the judgement of my observations'”(139). So Bear is helping a group of people bring more freedom to the people in his feudal society. (Eric)

Crispin changes because of meeting Bear. There is much evidence that proves it. First of all, Crispin becomes more cheerful. Bear’s words makes Crispin grin:”‘… I promise, it shall bring us pennies of plenty and we shall prosper greatly!'”(125). Secondly, Crispin talks more, and asks more questions. For example,”‘… can you read what it says?'” Crispin asks when Bear is looking the words on the cross (134). Furthermore, “‘… do you know where you are going?'” Crispin says to Bear when Bear and Crispin move without speaking. Thirdly, he makes some choices and decisions for himself and takes more control: “… Perhaps it was time for me to make the decision for myself” Crispin tells himself when he tries to ask God whether he should trust Bear or not. Then, “… the decision would be mine” Crispin says as he chooses to trust Bear (157). Fourthly, Crispin becomes cleaner than before: “‘… are you different?'” Bear asks after cutting Crispin’s hair (119). He adds, “‘…that was only water and blade…think…if you were cleansed of thirteen years of dirt, neglect, and servitude'” (119). Moreover, Crispin is getting much more knowledge about his own history. He figures out the meaning of the words on his cross and soon realizes they are important to him (135). All this shows that Crispin is changing because of meeting Bear. (Ina)

Bear is good to Crispin. He teaches Crispin how to use weapons (153). He makes sure Crispin has a place to stay at the inn; Bear says to the widow, “…fetch me the key to my room … the special one … I’ll settle the boy” (177). Bear also teaches him how to play musical instruments and juggle; “ I’ll teach you as much as I know, the juggling, singing, and dance” (157). Additionally, he defends Crispin from danger and schools him to show less fear; “Crispin,” Bear says softly, “try to show less worry. The worst disguise is fear (165). Bear not only treats Crispin well but teaches him skills that he could use to survive on his own. (Tyler)

Crispin is becoming a more observant person. Crispin notices the one eyed man enter and stand at the threshold (214). Crispin can’t wait to tell Bear about the man he observed outside the tavern the night before (212). Crispin observes the one eyed man stalk Bear as he walks down the street (223). While peeking through the buildings front shutters Crispin spots another man (226). Crispin spies a group of soldiers coming toward him along the street (229). Crispin definitely is becoming a more observant person. (Tyler)

Crispin is wise to lie to strangers. On their way from Bear’s village, Bear and Crispin are headed to a village named Lodgecote. After a run in with Aycliffe, they finally arrive and head towards the church (141). When they get there, Bear goes up to the priest and asks, “My boy and I beg your gracious permission to perform some simple songs and dances…”and the priest replies, “Do you know sacred songs?” “I do” says Bear (144-145). After playing for the village, people start asking Crispin questions. At first, he starts answering them honestly but then he catches himself and gives another name and another place (146). We all have been taught to never lie, but in this case, and since it’s a stranger Crispin is talking to, it is wise of Crispin to lie. (Kendra)

Crispin lives in a society full of goods from all around the world. He is amazed at all he sees in Great Welxy’s market. “I had never seen such amazing wealth, he says (185). Cloths came from all over Europe: “Mosovy furs” from Russia; “Toledo daggers” from Spain; “Flemish hats” from Belgium and “Italian gloves” from Italy (189). Crispin is astonished at all the food he sees, as well, saying, “… I actually saw a bowl full of peppercorns” (189). While Crispin himself lives in poverty, evidently there are many luxurious goods available for the wealthy people in his society. (Tyler)

 

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