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Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#2870. "The Somebody"

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Mon May 26 14:45:59 PDT 2003 by Alípio Barra (alipiobarra@netcabo.pt).

a state high school , Gaia, Portugal
Materials Required: Copy of The Somebody by Danny Santiago
Activity Time: four / five 50-minute lessons a bit longer
Concepts Taught: EFL, extensive reading


a story by Danny Santiago

My fifteen and sixteen-year-olds students are in their sixth year of English as a foreign language. They are used to intensive reading, but most texts they read are short (about 400/500 words). Right now they’re in the middle of a unit on the family, in which they have talked about the individual in the family, the changing patterns, functions and roles of the family along history. They’ve also read several first-person narratives. “The Somebody” provides them with a culture and language-rich story.

By the end of this four-lesson unit on THE SOMEBODY, the students will be able to:
- paint a word portrait of Chato, the main character, listing as many features and personal values of his identity as possible
- identify conflicts in the family and in the community
- reflect on the changing values
- retell the story from a different character’s point of view (Chato’s parents, Crusader, the Sierra, Chato himself as a grown-up man)
- Write a 200-word summary of the story


PRE-READING – Class work (10’ )
Warm-up activities
1. Brainstorming: What comes up to your mind about L.A.?

2. Talking about

“I’m nobody!”
“I’m somebody.”

Think of and speak about special moments in which people would say these sentences.

3. Expectations for the story
What do you expect from a story whose title is “The somebody”?

1. Form groups of four.
2. Take two A4 sheets, one for Chato’s principles and personal values and the other for the places where he wrote his name. You won’t need the latter now.
3. Read Part One (7’)
4. Select and write down any words, phrases and lines for your A4 sheets.
5. Fill in the table below:

We agree entirely with Chato We disagree entirely We don’t know

TALKING: Class work – One of the group leaders conducts this part. (10’)
1. Chato’s father had a couple of dreams and aspirations for Chato. What do you think they express about the aspirations of Mexican Americans?
2. How would you describe Chato’s relationship with his family? Quote from the text.
3. What do you find interesting about Chato? And uninteresting?

Read Part Two
1. Select more details (words, phrases, lines,…) for Chato’s list of values.
2. Make a list of places where Chato wrote his name.
3. Think about his statement: “Without a gang, you’re nobody.” (lines 115-116)


Form the same groups. Check your homework questions. Exchange information. (10’)

1. Class work / groups: Game
Groups take turns to answer this question: “Who’s Chato?”
2. Group work: Order these facts chronologically. No. 5 has been done for you.

Chato and his father shouted at each other.
Chato put on his best clothes.
5. Chato rubbed off the Sierra sign on his gate.
Chato stepped into the dime store.
Chato thought of writing more than his name.

Chato waited for his father to go off to work.
Chato walked on to Main Street.
Chato wrote his name in the girls’ rest room.
Chato wrote his name on the fence on the corner.
Chato’s mother served his breakfast.

3. What made Chato feel he was nobody?

CLASSROOM READING: Group work (20’)
1. Read Part Three (10’)
2. Add any new details to your lists of:
- principles (values, fears, …)
- places where he wrote his name
3. What happened in the Boys’ Club? Role play / dramatize the situation: Choose two students to play Chato and to play Mr Calderon. The other group members assist.

TALKING: Class work (15’)
1. Discuss these statements:
a. I cruised on up Broadway getting rich. (lines 191-192)
b. “How is the last of the dinosaurs?” (lines 235-236)
c. “He goes into that voice with the church music in it ..” (lines 239-240)
2. How do you think the story will continue?

Read Part Four
1. Select more details (words, phrases, lines,…) for:
- Chato’s list of values.
- your list of places where Chato wrote his name.
2. Order these facts chronologically. No. 4 has been done.

Chato almost accepted Crusader’s invitation.
Chato and Crusader lost balance.
4. Chato grabbed the lipstick from Crusader.
Chato questioned Crusader about her act.
Chato ran after Crusader.

Chato recognised Crusader Rabbit.
Chato saw a girl drawing hearts.
Chato sent Crusader off.
Chato’s body shook all over.
Crusader called Chato bad names.
Crusader invited Chato to write together.


Form the same groups. Check your homework questions. Exchange information. (10’)

1. Class work / groups: Game
Groups take turns to answer this question: “Who’s Chato?”
2. Class work: Recapitulate Chato’s encounter with Crusader.
Complete the table with evidence. (Indicate the lines)

Factors that favoured a partnership Factors that damaged the partnership
Team work:
Crusader’s skills:

1. Pre-reading: How will the story continue?
2. Read Part Five (5’)
2.1. Has the ending met your expectation? Choose an option.
I liked it very much. / It’s OK. / I’m disappointed
2.2. Add any new details to your lists of values and places.
2.3. For some time Chato watched those who watched his work. Describe the two episodes (Cadillac man; the pretty girl) without looking back.

TALKING: Class work
1. Survey (see 2.1 above). Groups report to the whole class.
2. Chato’s work seemed to be his best. Suggets any possible reasons.
3. Discuss his vision: how will Chato become somebody?

Scan the whole story. Reorder these moments as they appeared along the story.

Chato and Mr Calderon had a row.
Chato dreams of being famous all over town.
Chato entered the dime store.
Chato fought with Crusader.
Chato got up and put on his best clothes.
Chato hid behind the funeral car.
Chato looked at the house in Shamrock Street.
Chato looked at the works along Shamrock Street.
Chato recalled a former teacher.
Chato rubbed off the Sierra sign on his gate.
Chato saw the hearts round his name.
Chato shot some baskets.
Chato shouted at his father.
Chato thought of getting a job.
Chato wrote his name on Forney Playground.
Chato’s father yelled at Chato.
Crusader trued to seduce Chato into working together.
Mr Calderon caught Chato writing on the TV.
The Cadillac man observed Chato’s work.

Same groups: Check your homework.

1. Vocabulary
Game: Which definition is right based on the context? (1 point each)

quit (4)
bury (26)
roar (35)
cough (36)
holler (37)
support (50)
squeeze (78)
bawl (85)
cruise (120)
sign (149)
help (154)
cross over (162)
bet (176)
hit (184)
take over (193)
duck (211)
wipe off (233)
straighten (246)
fool (286)
sneak (296)
grab (306)
twist (312)
giggle (331)
wrestle (314)
scream (348)
spit (351)
argue (352)
drift (354)

2. Phrases

throw up (69)
take off (304)
take off (36)
rip down (99)
catch up with (117)
kiss goodbye (205)
things hit me like that sudden (39/40
It was way past eleven (62)
I had to hold my breath (82)
They wouldn’t dare to come (114)
better to keep them guessing (161)
I shot some baskets (222)
straighten yourself out (245)
I stopped dead (279)
turn out (291)
cut out (352)
I can feel everything she’s got (309)
just holding hands and nothing dirty (384)
I’ll be like a ghost (405)

1. Who’s Chato? What are his values?
2. Could he be one among you?
3. The language – the grammatical mistakes ………………..


I found the story a. very easy to read b. very difficult to read c. so-so
The activities were a. very interesting b. interesting c. boring
Time: a. It was enough b. I’d like to have more, for example, ……

I give my group the following marks (VP/P/OK/G/VG)
Marks + comments
Meeting the objectives
Carrying out the tasks
Preparation of portfolio

My contributions to the group were ………………………………..

THis is how I rank the members of my group:
1st___________2nd ___________3rd ___________4th ___________ 5th___________

My piece of creative writing: _______________________________________________
I’ll hand it in on ________________

(Sign here) ________________________________ Date: _____________