Summer Reading Selections for Rising Sophomores May 2014

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Summer Reading Selections for Rising Sophomores

May 2014
Dear Parents,

The Language Arts Department at Brookwood High School encourages all of its students to continue reading as part of our summer reading program. It is our goal to make reading a pleasurable activity and a learning experience at the same time.

Reading provides many benefits besides the obvious increase in vocabulary skills and general knowledge. Therefore, as we prepare to instruct your son or daughter as a sophomore at Brookwood High School in the fall, we want to inform you of your child’s assignment for the Summer Reading Program.
All rising sophomores are required to read the following title focusing on the hero’s journey.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho [ISBN0061122416 or 0062502174 or 0060834838]

Santiago, a young man in Spain who has attended seminary until the age of sixteen, is provided his father’s blessing and three gold coins to purchase a flock of sheep so that he may travel as he desires. His father advises him that there is no place like home. As Santiago spends his first night with his sheep, he experiences a recurring dream. In the dream he is transported to Egyptian pyramids, where a child tells him that he will find a hidden treasure there if he makes the journey in reality. He awakens before the child can show him the exact location of the treasure. A dream interpreter tells him that he must go and find a treasure, which will make him a rich man.

As Santiago journeys on in pursuit of his dream, he meets the King of Salem, a con man, a crystal merchant, an Englishman, tribal chieftains, and an alchemist. He learns of Fate, the Soul of the World, the Principle of Favorability, and that one’s treasure can lie where one least expects it.
For the rising Honors or Gifted sophomore, students are required to read chapters 1-3 of the following title in addition to The Alchemist:
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers [ISBN 978-0-385-41886-7]

In this transcript of Bill Moyer’s interview with one of the foremost experts on mythology, Joseph Campbell shares his reflections on comparative mythology and the ongoing role of myths in the modern world.

Honors and gifted level students will continue their study of this work throughout the school year. It would be in their best interest to have a copy to use and annotate for the year.

These works are easily found through local public libraries, at most area bookstores, as well as through online ordering sources. We will assess summer reading during the first weeks of school through class discussion, writing assignments, quizzes and on the first unit test of the semester. Each student should have his/her own copy of the text(s) in class during the first and second weeks of school.

CP STUDENTS: Come to school on the first day with the MAJOR WORKS DATA SHEET (attached) completed for THE ALCHEMIST.
HONORS AND GIFTED STUDENTS: Come to school on the first day with the MAJOR WORKS DATA SHEET (attached) completed for THE ALCHEMIST and the reading guide (attached) completed for THE POWER OF MYTH.


Tenth Grade Language Arts Instructional Team

10th Language Arts Name:___________________­­­­­­_________


THE ALCHEMIST by Paolo Coelho

Plot summary:

Why is the opening scene important?

Why is the closing scene important?

Major Works Data Sheet Page 2

Memorable Quotes- Select at least 5


Symbols- Identify 3 and what they represent

Why is the quote important?

Setting/s- Identify and describe the settings of the novel.

Major Works Data Sheet Page 3



Role in the story

Why is he/she important to the plot? What influence does he/she have on the development of the main character?


Literary Connections- How is The Alchemist similar to another novel you have read? Name the title and author and explain.






The Power of the Myth

The Power of the Myth by Joseph Campbell

Summer Reading Study Guide- All work must be handwritten!

**Study guide adapted from the work of Prof. Stephen Hagin.
Chapter 1: “Myth and the Modern World”

(1-5) Why should we read myths? Mythology connects us to common human experiences of which we are unaware.

1. Do people ultimately seek knowledge or experience? Why?

(5-8) What do myths reveal about our world? Myths reveal spiritual truths about the world. Marriage demands a shift in our spiritual identity and view of the self: “[Marriage is] a purely mythological image signifying the sacrifice of the visible entity for a transcendent good” (7).

  • transcend- to travel beyond a boundary (physical, psychological, spiritual, etc.)

2. Summarize Campbell’s critiques of modern-day marriages and how they differ from true “spiritual” marriages.

(8-12) What happens when a society no longer embraces a powerful mythology?

Campbell explains that modern life is “demythologized” (11), lacking the rituals that connect us to our human condition. Lacking rituals that connect the individual to the culture, people are left to their own devices to make sense of the world, often placing the individual interpretation of life against that of the society. “America,” states Campbell, “has no ethos” (10). Instead of stories that convey “the wisdom of life” (11), we have lawyers and professionals who focus on specialized issues, but are often ignoring the greater reality.

  • Rollo May — a 20th century American existentialist psychologist

  • Ethos — “the understood, unwritten rules by which people live” (10)

  • Alexander de Tocqueville — A French political thinker and historian who visited America and commented on the roles of individuals and their nations

  • Heinrich Zimmer — a 20th century art historian who explored the differences between Western and Indian art

3. Why does Campbell suggest that Americans lack rituals that assist us in being “twice born”?

(12-15) How did Campbell become interested in mythology? Growing up in New York,

Campbell visited museums and exhibits of Indian art and culture. After reading Native myths, he saw the mythological connections to the symbols and motifs of the Roman Catholic Church. This interest then developed into his love of comparative mythology.

  • motif — a dominant theme or pattern

4. How is a judge, a president, or a soldier a sort of mythological character?

Do “old time religions” serve us well? Campbell does not criticize religious teachings, but rather the application of these teachings to a different culture and time. Campbell explains that Western religions are “out of sync” with today’s world, resulting in young people disconnecting from the spiritual messages. Myths, however, are universally adaptable, as exemplified by the peyote rituals by indigenous Mexican Indians who transferred their hunting rituals onto the peyote plant after their sacred animal was extinguished from their culture.

  • peyote — a cactus that grown in the southwestern US known for its psychedelic effects

5. Why did these native peoples perform the hunting ritual on a plant? [opinion]

(18-20) What is Campbell’s definition of “consciousness”? Campbell explains that all life forms have consciousness on a variety of levels.

  • Cartesian mode — “Cartesian” refers to the writings of 17th century French Philosopher and mathematician René Descartes (he developed the x/y axis plot); Campbell uses Descartes to represent the world view of the time

6. What is the role of mythology in our world?

(20-24) Why is it that films affect us? Campbell and Moyers discuss the impact of films as potential replacements for myths. Campbell questions whether films can replace mythology because the screenwriters often lack mythological understanding. When they do, such as George Lucas in creating Star Wars, the mythological heroes and archetypes can be revealed effectively to a modern audience that lacks the references.

  • Douglas Fairbanks — an early 20th century silent film actor who portrayed swaggering, swordwielding heroes, such as Robin Hood, Don Juan, and assorted pirates

  • Pablo Picasso — 20th century Spanish painter who invented the art form known as cubism (in avant-garde art form that depicts images as broken pieces depicting its subject from a variety of viewpoints)

  • Minotaur — In Greek mythology, a creature depicted as having the upper torso of a man and the lower torso of a bull

  • Faust — a protagonist in many 16th-19th century German stories who sells his soul to the devil

  • Mephistopheles — an alternate identity for Satan, chief of the demons, developed in Renaissance literature

7. Why does a film actor assume the “condition of a god” in a movie theatre but only “celebrity” status on television?

8. How have machines become mythologized? Why?

(25-30) How does the modern Western world relate to myths? Campbell discusses some revelations that he has made after working on his first personal computer in the 1980s. He uses this as a specific example of the machine metaphor that he discusses earlier. Myths come from Nature and one’s surroundings, but Western religions have shut Nature out, further distancing themselves from the essence of their spiritual messages. He discusses religious tensions in Lebanon and Ireland as examples of cultures that have ignored the mythology behind their religions, which leads to war. He then relates a few tribal and Eastern examples for comparison. Western beliefs promote a “me vs. you” mentality, but myths are universally adaptable. Campbell believes that humanity needs mythology that connects them to the planet, not a particular social group (transcending the culture to reveal the universal truths).
NOTE: On page 28, Campbell makes an error in recalling the events of the Bible. Campbell says that the “chapter” after the Ten Commandments commanded the Jews to “Go into Canaan and kill everybody in it,” but this is a poor paraphrase. Exodus 20 provides the Commandments, but Exodus 21 details several laws against violence, much like Hammurabi’s Code. Chapter 21 of Numbers is the first chapter that recalls the smiting of the Canaanites: “So Israel made a vow to the LORD, and said, ‘If You will indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.’ And the LORD listened to the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites, and they utterly destroyed them and their cities” (Numbers 21:2-4).

  • Kali — a goddess in Hindu mythology that assumes many forms; “kala” in Sanskrit means “time” and “black,” therefore associating Kali as a goddess of death

  • Yahweh — The Hebrew name for God (specifically spelled YHWH)

  • Gentile — the name given to non-Jews during Old Testament times

  • Canaan — the land that was home to various people in the area around modern-day Israel that spoke

  • Semitic languages (such as Hebrew and Ugaritic); Noah’s son Ham was the “father of Canaan” (Genesis 9:18)

  • Commodore Matthew C. Perry — led an American Naval expedition to Japan in 1856

  • Marshall McLuhan — a 20th century Canadian writer who critiqued the role of media and technology on social order

9. How are religious approaches similar to computer software?

10. Why does Campbell call mythology “the song”?

11. What are the two types of mythology?

12. What is the difference between magic and mythology?

(31-38) Are the symbols on the reverse side of the dollar bill mythological? Campbell explores the symbolism on the reverse of the dollar bill and how it reflected the Age of Reason (sometimes called The Age of Enlightenment) from which the nation was born. Take one out of your wallet and examine it while you read this section.

  • Deist — one who follows Deism, the belief in God through reason and knowledge, not through revelation or holy books; Deism often promotes the concept of the “Divine Clockwinder,” suggesting that God created the universe, but is now sitting back and watching the creatures of creation live on their own terms; many of the Founding Fathers were Deists

  • Angelus — a prayer in the Catholic Church that recites “Ave, Maria” (“Hail, Mary”) three times in its chorus

  • manifest — “to manifest” means “to show, understand, demonstrate, or embody something clearly”; therefore, a manifestation is the object that contains this knowledge or reality

13. How has 20th century America deviated from its “Declaration of Independence”?

(38-43) How do we live without myths? Campbell describes the differences between our society and the mythological cultures, suggesting that our world view projected from the Bible is out of date with the realities of the modern world discovered through reason. Myths can transcend time and place, but cultural dogma cannot. The world has changed enormously in the past 3,000 years, but the Western religions are locked in the past. The letter from Chief Seattle illustrates the difference in world view between modern societies and the mythological mindset: “This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.”
Paleolithic moral order — “Paleolithic” means “Stone Age,” reflecting the hinters/gatherers and early agricultural societies that used myths to communicate natural truths

Chief Seattle — a Suquamish Indian chief near Puget Sound who delivered a stunning speech after he signed the Nisqually Treaty in 1846; the subsequent war led to the death and internment of the Native Americans in that region by the U.S. government

14. Why does Campbell say that America is moving too quickly to become mythologized?

15. What are the four functions of mythology? Which of these four still operate in America today?

16. How does Chief Seattle’s letter reflect the connection of the native Americans to their surroundings?

Chapter 2: “The Journey Inward”

(44-50) Why do myths reflect what we know inside is true? Campbell explains that all humans live through the same stages of life and they recognize universal images (archetypes), such as the serpent and the bird. Myths help us to see the God inside the Man; that universal truths exist inside our subconscious brains (dreams) that are interpreted in terms of the individual experience. Individual dreams tend to reflect the public mythology; when they don’t, only a hero can bring these two views into accord.

  • Theodore Roethke — a 20th century American poet

  • Christ — an ancient Indo-European term meaning “the anointed one” or “covered in oil”; related words include “grime,” “grease,” and “cream”

  • Shiva — the Hindu god of destruction and part of the Hindu Triad: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva

  • Sigmund Freud — a 19th/20th century Austrian neurologist who established psychoanalysis (the study of the interplay between the conscious and subconscious levels of the human brain)

  • Carl Jung — a 20th century Swiss psychiatrist, pioneer of dream analysis, and the founder of analytical psychology (the study of the forces and motivations of human behavior)

1. Why does Campbell call myth “the public dream”?

2. According to Carl Jung, what are the two orders of dream and how do they differ?

(50-67) Why are the world’s creation stories so similar? Campbell explains that all creation stories reflect a primordial mythical reality, and that many themes and archetypes that appear in one tend to appear in many others as well (a darkness, a formless void, a separation from the creator, etc). Campbell compares Genesis with tales from the Pima Indians (Arizona), the Upanishads (India), and the Bassari tribes (West Africa) as examples. Specific attention is devoted to the role of the serpent in these myths, a commonly misunderstood archetype in the modern West. Campbell then unveils the Garden of Eden stories from Genesis with mythological language to contrast myth from doctrine. Campbell illustrates the concepts of duality, archetypes, and transcendence through this example as well.

  • alimentary canal — the digestive tract through which food is absorbed and converted into waste, from the mouth to the anus

  • Johannes Eckhart (a.k.a. Eckhart von Hochheim, or Meister Eckhart) — a 13th/14th century German theologian and Christian mystic, tried in court as a heretic by Pope John XXII

  • William Blake — 18th/19th century British Romantic poet and painter whose work focused on the themes of religious dualities (God/man, heaven/hell, innocence/experience, etc.)

  • Emmanuel Kant — 18th century German philosopher who argued a connection between two widely disputed philosophical traditions: Rationalism (logic, intuition, and revelation) and Empiricism (observation and experience), paving the way for nearly all philosophical study since the 19th century

  • Stanislav Grof — a 20th century Czechoslovakian researcher who established the field of transpersonal psychology that delves into one’s fetal and neonatal experiences

  • Ramakrishna — a 19th century Hindu guru, revered by millions, who taught that the realization of God and the suppression of maya (illusion) are the supreme goals of all living creatures

  • Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki — a leading 19th/20th century Zen Buddhist scholar and linguist

3. What is the fundamental psychological purpose of all creation stories?

4. Why does Campbell suggest that the serpent is a symbol of life?

5. According to Campbell, how has the Biblical tradition rejected the mythical symbolism of the serpent?

6. What are the three “oppositions” in the Garden of Eden story?

7. How does God transcend the dualities?

8. What is our first life experience?

(67-70) What is a metaphor and how does it operate in religion? Campbell discusses how myths need to be read metaphorically, not literally. Myths are written in poetry, not prose, which is intended to allow the reader access to the unknown — that which escapes the confines of language. Campbell examines a few important Christian concepts through the mythological perspective, which existed during the first few centuries of Christianity, specifically with the Gnostics.

  • Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich, or also Freiherr von Hardenberg) — an 18th century Romantic author and philosopher who sought to describe the process by which man can establish harmony with Nature

  • Gospel of Thomas — one of many Christian Apocryphal texts that were excluded from the Bible when it was assembled by Pope Damasus at the Roman Council in 382 CE; these Apocrypa were often rejected by Roman bishops because they revealed Jesus more as man than God, as well as a mystic whose teachings were more in accord with mythology and the concepts of the sacred feminine

  • Gnosticism — Gnostics were early Christians who believed in “gnosis,” or the awareness of God through personal experience, as well as a dualistic divinity (light and dark divine forces in conflict with each other); they were persecuted and discredited by the early Roman Church

  • purgatory — a state/place between heaven and hell where the soul is purged of its sins in order to ascend into heaven; a main setting of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso); there is no mention of purgatory in the Bible, and the Catholic Church recently has backed away from this concept

9. How does metaphor assist one with the “journey inward”? [opinion]

(70-79) How do myths help us to connect to the spiritual world? Campbell discusses several ways that people can seek the God within themselves and how cultures are grounded in the myths that provide this transcendental instruction. Since Campbell argues that the myths connect people to God, he concludes that poets are doing this well today, but is critical of the literalist approaches of the Western churches that have ignored the messages of the myth and fail to share the rich symbolism upon which their religions were originally based. Campbell argues that religious experiences are the best means of knowing God, but symbols (especially words) must be available to substitute as a guide for those who lack the experience. Campbell completes this lesson with a retelling of “The Myth of the Proud Indras,” from the Hindu Upanishads.

  • transcend — to travel beyond a boundary (physical, psychological, spiritual, etc.)

  • shaman — an intermediary between the earthly world and the spiritual realm, often transcending these worlds to acquire sacred knowledge through trances, meditation, or drug-induced rituals

  • rishi — a sage, saint, or prophet in Hinduism who has heard the Vedas (early Hindu scriptural hymns) directly from Brahman (the Supreme universal force)

  • Muse — the nine goddesses in Greek mythology who assisted human artists with their inspiration:

  • Calliope (epic poetry), Euterpe (music/lyric poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyrics/love poetry),

  • Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry and geometry), Terpsichore (dancing), Thalia (comedy), Urania (astronomy and astrology)

  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel — a 19th century German philosopher who rationalized how one can understand unity through the vehicle of difference and negation

  • Upanishads — sacred Hindu texts that followed the Vedas, focusing on the spiritual realizations of students who were guided by their yogis (teachers)

  • Indra — an early Hindu god of war and thunderbolts from the Vedic tradition who constantly battled demons to preserve the cosmic order

  • Brahma — the Hindu god of creation who is the agent of Brahman, the Supreme Universal Being

  • Vishnu — the Hindu god of preservation who incarnated himself ten times to preserve the order in the universe by thwarting the demons

  • Shiva — the Hindu god of destruction who often sacrifices himself to protect the world, such as when he held the poison in his throat in “The Churning of the Milk Ocean”

10. What is the difference between a priest and a shaman?

11. What does the god Indra learn in “The Myth of the Proud Indras”?

(80-85) Why is good and evil promoted in mythology? Campbell discusses the Santa

Claus myth and how it operates to form relationships between parents and children. But the adult world ponders evil as well as good, so myths provide spiritual guidance for us to accept the dualities of life — both the bad with the good. We contribute and receive good and evil by participating in the game of life. Therefore, we must come to understand how our world of dualities operates, and to learn to avoid judging the world based on our bias of one duality over another. Myths teach us that. Campbell relates some tales from the Hindu Rig Veda and The Upanishads, high spiritual works.

  • Thanatos — The Greek personification of death (Roman Mors). He was the son of Night and the brother of Sleep, and his presence was fearsome. The Romans depicted him as a cherub. Freud’s theory of the Death instinct hypothesized that humans have two primal drives in opposition: Eros (lust, desire for pleasure) and Thanatos (the drive to end the struggle of life and to pass quietly into the grave).

12. What is the metaphor of Santa Claus?

13. Why do myths teach us to not judge against evil?

14. What was the question that Campbell posed to the Hindu guru, and what was the answer?

Chapter 3: “The First Storytellers”

(86-99) What do our souls owe to ancient myths? Campbell explains how ancient tribal myths and animal myths help people to transcend the boundaries of birth and death in greater harmony and accord with the world. Ancient myths help humans to comprehend the mysteries and fears of birth, life, and death, and to reach an understanding between our minds and our bodies. Rituals, through myths, help us to understand the grander scheme of life that exists outside of our individual bodies. We must understand the bigger picture of life before we can truly understand ourselves as participants in it, such as killing other creatures for our own survival. Myths help us to contemplate the mysteries of the universe that are greater than us. Campbell tells several stories about native American rituals, and he contrasts this perspective to modern ones through the use of the theories of Martin Buber, who conceived of the notion of the “I and Thou.”

  • William Wordsworth — A prominent English Romantic poet (1770-1850) who initiated the Romantic Age with his publication of Lyrical Ballads, poems that promoted the beauty and power of Nature

  • Bushmen — hunter/gatherer tribes from southern Africa

  • Samurai — feudal military noblemen from pre-industrial Japan; the name means “those who serve in close attendance to nobility”; they wielded the katana, the Japanese long sword

  • Martin Buber — An Austrian-born Jewish philosopher (1878-1965) famous for his essay Ich und Du (I and Thou) that examines the means of connecting with that which is different from us. “I,”

  • Thou,” and “It” — Buber’s philosophical construct that explains that the self (the “I”) is always understood in relation to the other, and that our relationship with the other must be understood either as an extension of the self (“I-Thou”) or as separate from the self (“I-It”)

1. What were the ancient myths designed to teach us?

2. What is the challenge between mind and body that we all face in middle age?

3. What does Campbell identify as the “basic theme of all mythology”?

4. How are the hunting myths “a kind of covenant” between the worlds of animals and man?

5. How is the guilt over killing an animal “wiped out by the myth”?

6. What is “the power of the animal master”?

7. In the story of the Japanese samurai warrior, why did the samurai refuse to avenge the murderer of his overlord?

8. In what ways can animals become our superiors?

(99-104) How are men and women initiated into adulthood differently? Campbell describes his experiences inside ancient temple caves that depict mythological rites on the walls and ceilings. Acting as today’s cathedrals do, the cave places the participant inside another world from which to contemplate the mysteries of life. Girls are initiated into these mysteries by Nature herself, bringing the first menstruation, but boys must voluntarily be initiated into manhood through their societies. This is demonstrated by the stories of Australian aboriginal rites of manhood.
9. Why was there “no chance of relapsing back to boyhood” after participating in the aboriginal ritual?

10. Although Hollywood films apparently have replaced mythological stories, why does

Campbell believe that films fall short of accomplishing the same goals?

(104-106) How has religious instruction become “obsolete” to many people today?

Joseph Campbell was raised Catholic in New York City, and he witnessed many procedural changes to the rituals in his lifetime. In the past, rituals helped people to grow and develop into responsible members of their societies and their environments, but now these rituals have been reduced to catch phrases and symbolic spectacles that do not thrust the recipient into a new mindset, unless they choose to go there voluntarily. In short, Campbell argues that today’s Western rituals are a lot of show, but offer little substance, because they have been “dumbed down” and sterilized.

11. Why does Campbell criticize the Catholic Church for changing the delivery of the Mass from Latin to English in the mid-20th century?

12. Why does Campbell claim that many of our rituals are now “dead”?

(106-112) How does the environment shape the mythology? Campbell explains how mythology is borne of its natural connections, relating how many Native American tribes changed from a “vegetation” mythology to a “buffalo” mythology after the introduction of the horse. Campbell also discusses how the shaman, or tribe’s spiritual visionary, relates to the consciousness of the environment through a mystical spiritual experience that transports him out of his body and into the body of the earth spirits. In order to have a spiritual awakening, one must undergo an unfamiliar experience where the mind and/or body are connected to another realm. Campbell relates an example of Black Elk, a young Sioux boy who underwent a shamanistic experience that allowed him to understand the nature of God.

  • das Volk dichtet — “The seals of the people”; the concept that the regular people, the folk, establish the cultural and spiritual identity through the poetry and storytelling

  • shaman — an intermediary between the earthly world and the spiritual realm, often transcending these worlds to acquire sacred knowledge through trances, meditation, or drug-induced rituals

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche — an influential 19th century German philosopher and naturalistic critic of traditional moral and religious thought, once postulating that “God is dead” to argue that modern cultures are beyond the influence of traditional religious teachings

  • axis mundi — “world axis”; the central axis point around which the universe revolves

  • Sioux — the collected name of the unified tribes of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples of the American Midwest and southwest

13. How does Biblical tradition relate to our 21st century society and its environment?

14. How are artists the keepers of mythology today?

15. Does mythology originate from the common folk or the elite? Why?

16. What is the common emotion associated with the spiritual experience? Why?

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