What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son's Quest to Redeem the Past
by James FitzGerald (Random House Canada, 2010)
Distribute to students “Excerpts from What Disturbs Our Blood.” Point out the elements that FitzGerald chose to open his book and to draw readers into his narrative.
• Title and subtitle: The title of the book is taken from a poem, “The Wheel” by William Butler Yeats: “. . . what disturbs our blood/ Is but its longing for the tomb.” Subtitles usually offer readers a guide to what a book is about. How might Fitzgerald’s subtitle serve readers as a guide?
• Prologue: A prologue is often used to set the tone for a book and to give readers some necessary background. As they read FitzGerald’s prologue, ask students to watch for ways the author sets his tone and to note the background he includes.
• Epigraph: Epigraphs (quotations at the beginning of a book or a chapter) are often used to present a major theme for the text. What guidance does FitzGerald’s epigraph offer his readers?
• Cover photograph: FitzGerald refers to this photograph in the opening paragraph of his prologue. To help students interpret the image, ask them who is the focus of the photograph. What is he doing? What is the setting? What is your impression of the photo? Why do you think this photo was chosen for the book’s cover?
See the teaching resource for more lesson ideas.
Cross-curricular Suggestions: History and Social Studies
What Disturbs Our Blood could supplement sections of courses that deal with how Canada’s identity as a nation was shaped by the establishment of national institutions and the people who were responsible for establishing those institutions. The story of John Gerald FitzGerald’s founding of the Connaught Laboratories, his contributions to the creation of Canada’s public health system, and his production and distribution of vaccines for diseases like diphtheria and diabetes will help students explore the values and beliefs of people who lived in the past and the national consequences of past events.
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