Paired Texts > Sympathy
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was an influential African American poet, the son of freed slaves, and friend of Frederick Douglass. In "We Wear the Mask," Dunbar introduces the idea of hiding behind a metaphorical mask.Pair “We Wear the Mask” with “Sympathy” and ask students to discuss the similar themes of these two poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar. How does Dunbar use figurative language to explore these themes?
The speaker in this famous Langston Hughes poem uses symbolism to explain the connection they feel between their ancestry and identity.Pair “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” with “Sympathy” and ask students to discuss how the two authors use poetry to explore the experiences and history of African Americans. How do they use figurative language to depict these experiences? What is the effect of this technique?
In Yesenia Montilla's poem "Maps," a speaker describes maps and how borders divide the world.Pair “Sympathy” with “Maps” and ask students to discuss how the speakers of both texts feel imprisoned. How do the lines discussed in “Maps” act as a cage to the speaker? What is the caged bird being kept from in “Sympathy”? How does this compare to what the speaker is being kept from in “Maps”?
In this informational text, the history of redlining and its contribution to the 2008 housing crash are explained.Pair “Sympathy” with “Redlining’s Legacy: Maps are gone, but the problem hasn’t disappeared” and ask students to discuss how redlining could contribute to the bird’s cage in the poem. Do students think the bird’s experience with old scars is similar or different to how redlining has evolved? Why? or why not?
In "I look at the world," a speaker describes becoming aware of their oppression, as well as their role in making the world more just.Pair “Sympathy” with “I look at the world” and ask students to discuss the themes present in each poem. What images are present in each text? How are the perspectives of the speakers in each poem similar or different? If the speakers of the poems could have a conversation about oppression and action against it, what would they say?