by Walt Whitman
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.
The Emancipation Proclamation
- President Abraham Lincoln
President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation during the height of the Civil War. It was directed at the eleven states still in rebellion and decreed that all slaves in these rebelling states were freed.Pair “The Emancipation Proclamation” with “O Captain! My Captain!” and ask students to discuss how they think the Proclamation impacted the public’s view of Lincoln. What types of people would read the Emancipation Proclamation and view Lincoln in a similar way that the sailor from Whitman’s poem views his captain?
A Horseman in the Sky
- Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842 – c. 1914) was an American journalist, satirist, and short story writer. In this short story set during the American Civil War, a young Virginian man joins the Union Army and falls asleep on one of his watches. When he awakes, he faces a difficult duty.Pair “A Horseman in the Sky” with “O Captain! My Captain!” and ask students to compare and contrast the symbolism used in the two sources.
Causes of the American Civil War
- Mike Kubic
In “Causes of the American Civil War,” the informational text explores the causes of the American Civil War and the growing hostility between the Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders.Pair “Causes of the American Civil War” with “O Captain! My Captain!” and asks students to discuss what elements of Kubic’s article are included in Whitman’s poem. Based on their reading Kubic’s summary of the causes of the war, what other aspects of the war could Whitman have symbolized in his poem? What symbols would students choose?
Union wins a victory at Port Royal Sound, South Carolina
- Carolyn Reeder
In the informational text “Union wins a victory at Port Royal Sound, South Carolina,” Carolyn Reeder describes one of the Union’s early successes against the South during the Civil War.Pair “Union wins a victory at Port Royal Sound, South Carolina” with “O Captian! My Captain” to provide students with additional information about the Civil War. How does the poem help students understand the violence and loss that was present throughout the war? How do both texts explore the difficulties that both the South and North encountered during the war? Is one more effective in presenting these wartime difficulties? Why or why not?
What happened at Ball’s Bluff?
- Carolyn Reeder
In the informational text “What happened at Ball’s Bluff?” Carolyn Reeder discusses one of the early battles of the Civil War.Pair “O Captain! My Captain” with “What happened at Ball’s Bluff?” to provide students with another perspective on the Civil War. How does the poem help students understand the violence of the Civil War? How does the tone of the poem compare to the tone of the informational text? What effect does this have on the overall meaning of each text?