Classroom Strategies

I had my students read “Lot’s Wife” alongside the original story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) and an excerpt of the intro to Slaughterhouse-Five, where Vonnegut references Lot’s wife. Then we compared each version. In the Bible story, Lot’s wife is a very marginal character, referenced only once. There is no indication of her motives, her interiority, etc. By contrast, Vonnegut’s narrator announces that he “love[s]” Lot’s wife for turning back to look at her city’s destruction because “it was so human.” Akhamtova’s poem is told in the voice of Lot’s Wife and offers a complex set of emotions, motivations, and contradictions. My students seemed engaged in a debate over which version was most compelling, which they identified with most, and how their impression of Lot’s wife changed from one version to another. [Ariel Lewiton]