Check student understanding of and analyze characters in the story ‘After Twenty Years’ with this lesson plan. A video lesson helps summarize plot and characters as students discuss content and finish with a culminating activity.
After this lesson, students will be able to:
- summarize After Twenty Years by O. Henry
- analyze characters in After Twenty Years
Two 1-hour lessons
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how complex characters (e.g.
, those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
- Video lesson After Twenty Years: Summary & Characters
- Copies of the story After Twenty Years, one for each student
Key Vocabulary and Characters
- Twist ending
- O. Henry
- Silky Bob
- Jimmy Wells
Warm-Up and Preparation
- Start the lesson by having students reflect on the following questions:
- What does it mean to have good character?
- What character traits make a good friend?
- After a couple of minutes of reflection, break students into small groups to share their ideas.
- Discuss as a whole class, recording character traits and other descriptive vocabulary about friends and good character on the board.
- What do most students think makes a good friend?
- What is good character?
- Introduce vocabulary words and discuss the meaning of the twist ending.
What may this mean about the story they’re about to read?
- Have students make a t-chart with the character names Silky Bob and Jimmy Wells and instruct them to record character traits for each as they read.
- Distribute copies of the story and have students read silently.
- When all students are finished, have them meet in their small groups to ask and answer any questions about the text.
- Now start the lesson After Twenty Years: Summary ; Characters and pause at 2:07.
- Discuss as a whole group:
- What was the twist ending?
- Resume the lesson and pause at 4:17.
- Share t-charts as a whole group, then have groups make two more t-charts (one for each character) titled ‘Actions and Words’ and ‘Inferences.’
- Instruct groups to re-read the story carefully, recording descriptions of actions and words about each character and inferring what O. Henry is telling us about each with these words.
- When groups are finished, have a representative from each share their work, discussing each idea together. What do you learn about Jimmy and Bob?
- Lead a discussion:
- Do you consider Jimmy a good friend? Why?
- Do the characters have the traits we discussed in the opening exercise?
- What does it mean if they do or don’t?
- Would you want Jimmy or Bob for a friend? Why or why not?
- Play the remainder of the video.
- Give students the quiz in small groups.
- When groups have finished the quiz, review the answers and answer any outstanding questions students may have.
- Students will now imagine the friendship of Jimmy and Bob 20 years ago and write a short story about them.
- How did they meet?
- How old were they?
- Where were they?
- What was their last meeting like?
- What happened to each in the mean time?
- Give students time to brainstorm, then use the full writing process to edit, revise, and publish.
- Break students into small groups to share their stories.
How did students imagine these characters?
- Students will choose a friend and imagine a meeting with them in 20 years.
- What will they each be doing?
- What will they look like?
- How will it feel to see the friend after 20 years?
- Give students time to brainstorm, then have them write a journal reflection entry of the imaginary encounter.
- Share in small groups, then as a whole class.
- Allow students to do a reenactment of the story, playing the parts in twosomes. Critique and offer feedback.
- Study the twist endings of other authors and have students attempt to write stories with these types of twists.
- After Twenty Years: Theme & Analysis
- O. Henry: Biography, Books & Poems