CSUN  Wordmark
Pat Swenson, CSUN - Sarah, Plain and Tall
literature banner

Prof Pat Swenson

Campus Email: pat.swenson@csun.edu

Elements of Fiction

Literary Theory

Myth & Archetype: The Hero's Quest

ProfPat's Main Page

ProfPat's Education Links

Department Information

Department of English

708 Sierra Tower
Phone: 818.677.3431

English Department Website

Liberal Studies Program

EA 100
Phone: 818.677.3300

Liberal Studies Website

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan - Discussion Guide



Anna, Sarah, Caleb, Papa

Maggie, William, William's Wife


Person-against-self - an internal conflict of feelings.

Person-against-person - the typical protagonist vs. antagonist scenario.

Person-against-society - the protagonist battles against the larger organizations of society
(or a system of beliefs held by society).

Person-against-nature - the protagonist is threatened by a component of nature.


Analyze themes such as: death, single parenting, friendship, honesty, love and family, women's roles/rights, abandonment, guilt/blame.

Define any symbols (the ocean and its colors, seashells, hay/sand dune, cow pond, the storm, singing, wildflowers, garden, the wagon, seal.

Pre-Reading/Post-Reading Activities

Social Science: Pioneer/Prairie Life, Mail-order Brides.

Geography: Prairie States, Maine.

Science: Weather, Ocean, Nature (animals, plants of each region).

Math: Placing an Advertisement in the Newspaper.

Classroom Projects: Art, Letter Writing, Map Making/Reading, Fieldtrip to Ocean.