Analyzing the Characters
Cumulative Activity
Grades 7–12
Language Arts, History, Performing Arts
Small Group, Critical Analysis, Writing, Oral Presentation


  • Students will understand what a eulogy is.
  • Students will apply eulogy techniques to various aspects of the novel.
  • Students will understand how to respectfully, while still having fun, create a eulogy for an animal/human.
  • Students will cooperate in a group setting and orally deliver their eulogies.
  • Students should understand the concept of the “American Dream” and the “universal dream.”


Eulogies are powerful, and should be taken seriously, even though they may contain some elements of humor. This exercise can provide students with empathy, sympathy, and a greater understanding, during any point of the novel, of the characters and situations surrounding death.

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Teachers should access How to Write a Eulogy and share with students as applicable.
  • Copies of the eulogies graphic organizer (optional).

Estimated Time

Spend about 1 class period to introduce the concept of the eulogy and the students’ writing of a brief one. The next day, a half period can be devoted to the groups reading their eulogies for the class.


After explaining what a eulogy is, students can break up into small groups and write a brief one. This can be done in the form of a poem, a rap, or whatever students wish. After completion, they will perform their eulogies for the class. Please remind students, while they are to have fun with this activity, to be sure to maintain a proper respect for the novel. Consider providing the Eulogies Graphic Organizer for students to use in preparing. For The Grapes of Wrath, eulogies can be performed for:

  • Grampa
  • Granma
  • Casy
  • Tom
  • Rosasharn's baby
  • Metaphorically: the death of The American/Universal Dream, the breakdown of a vehicle
  • For people gone but not dead: Noah, Connie, Muley

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up


  • Students can respectfully comment on the eulogies of other groups.


  • A respectful class discussion can follow where members relate their own experiences of the death of a family member or pet.
  • Students can write a brief, and confidential, experience (narrative, descriptive) about the death of a family member or pet.


  • During the activity, teachers should ensure that students are on task, are being respectful to the novel, and to offer suggestions. Grading the assignment is optional.

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
  • ~Craft and Structure: 4, 5, 6
  • ~Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
  • Writing Standards 6-12
  • ~Text Types and Purposes: 1, 3
  • ~Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5
  • ~Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 7
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • ~Comprehension and Collaboration: 1
  • Language Standards 6-12
  • ~Conventions of Standard English: 1, 2
  • ~Knowledge of Language: 3
  • ~Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4, 5, 6
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
  • ~Craft and Structure: 4, 5
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12
  • ~Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5
  • ~Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 7, 8, 9

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