Updated: Dec 7, 2019
What's going on everyone?
New to this Blog? You can follow along from the beginning by starting here.
Previous Week's Post: The post for Weeks 6-7 can be found here.
Want this Curriculum? You can find the full curriculum for this class here.
This Post Covers Days 17-20 of the Unit.
We finished playing What Remains of Edith Finch!! As we slowly inched towards the end of the game, a lot of conflict began to arise between the members of the Finch family. In the previous couple of lessons, the students were discussing the central idea of the game. They decided that the message of the game was that you can make anything happen if you believe something enough. In this case, the Finch family members kept dying because of how hard they believed in the family curse.
These sections of the game allow for the students to analyze the various forms of conflict to be found in the game. The Aim of Day 17 was, "What types of conflict pervade the Finch family?" This student mentions that, "I think person vs. person and person vs. nature conflict pervade the Finch family." This student chose "person vs. person" because two members of the family got divorced after the accidental death of their infant child. This ultimately led to the death of their second child who grew distant from his father for eventually remarrying. The student also mentioned "person vs. nature" because they considered the family curse to be nature itself. This can also be interpreted as person vs. the supernatural. I like to spend time discussing conflict because it is usually an easier access point for the Part 3 essay in the English Regents Exam.
I wanted to have a little more fun on Day 18 so we only played through a small section of the game- a vignette of Edith's brother, Milton. Milton however, doesn't actually die. All we find out about his fate is that he disappeared- perhaps he ran away to escape the curse. Since Milton's story was more open ended, I thought it would be cool to have my students write some fan fiction depicting what they think happened to him. This student wrote a story about Milton trying to find a way to cure the family curse by killing demons. My students don't often have the opportunity to write in English for fun. It is almost always for some kind of assessment. This activity is still technically being assessed, but I more just wanted them to have the freedom to write about anything they wanted in English.
Day 19 involved a lesson about suicide. Whenever topics like suicide come up in conversation it is best to tell students beforehand. Any conversation, or depictions, of suicide can be triggering for many students, especially if they have experienced past trauma. A number of my students were open about knowing people who have previously died by suicide. In order to front-load, we read this article about teen suicide from USA Today. I thought it was a good way to broach a topic that was coming up next in the game, especially since the character in the game who dies by suicide was also a teenager. Upon finishing the article, we played through Lewis' vignette. This was by far my students favorite section of the game. It tells the story of a teenager who creates a full imaginary world in order to distract himself from the monotony of repetitive work in a fish cannery factory. Lewis is also dealing with depression and withdrawal symptoms from past drug use. You play as Lewis cutting off the heads of fish while simultaneously controlling a prince within Lewis' imagination. Slowly Lewis' imagination takes over the entire screen as it became more important to him than his own reality. I recommend watching the sequence here because it really needs to be seen in order to fully understand. The sequence allowed for student to continue conversations around conflict, and more specifically around depression and mental health.
We finished playing the game on Day 20. The game ends with one final vignette where we learn about the fate of the final members in the Finch family. Edith's mom Dawn takes her away from the house after Lewis' death because she is finally fed up with the family curse and wants to get away from all the heartbreak. Edith's great grandma Edie stays behind to never be seen again. Eventually Edith's mom dies from some illness and then we finally learn that Edith dies in childbirth. The entirety of the game is revealed to be a story being told to Edith's son through a journal years after her death.
From here I gave the students time to discuss the ending with each other and share how they felt. My favorite thing a student said was that "this type of story is not possible to tell in other mediums." They believe that the story in What Remains of Edith Finch would not be nearly as impactful if it was created as a movie or as a written text. Being able to play as Edith actually contributed to the story telling. From here we moved onto my final question about the game, "What is the importance of storytelling?" This student mentioned, "the importance of storytelling is to teach to someone else what happened and how this person can deal with to avoid or to be courageous when he/she overcome that kind of situation." Basically this student is sharing that the telling of stories can be a way to help people prepare for similar situations in the future. This is relevant in the game since it is revealed that Edith's son is reading about all of the past stories of the Finch family.
Next week we are going to write game reviews for What Remains of Edith Finch and prepare for a final assessment.
Thanks for reading,
Next week's post can be read here.