Blood Lines by Rendell Ruth - Topic and Theme Discussion

Blood Lines by Rendell Ruth

Main Topics/Themes in the Story:

Looking for something to live for. We can definitely see that the main character's behavior is influenced and derived from the fact that she is in a search for meaning. She (Angela) is looking for the excitement, for reasons to get up in the morning and go to work.

Trust. The idea of trust is presented in the story when referring to Angela. She is considered to be trustworthy by her surroundings, but the narrator shows us that she is not as honest and trustworthy as everyone expected and considered her to be.

Morality. The issues regarding trust generate issues regarding morality. How do we handle this contradiction between the real Angela, and the Angela everyone believes in? How can she live with this dissonance? What makes us question Angela's morality?

Discussion of the topics:

I think that the two most important topics in this story are the issue of looking for meaning, and the ideas regarding trust. I believe that "trust" and "morality" have many aspects in common and are strongly related to one another, as I elaborated in part 1, and this is why I will refer to both as "trust issues".

When reading the excerpt of the story is in not completely obvious that there is a connection between the quest for a meaningful life, and Angela's trust issues. However, when reading the story again we can see that in the physical aspect, what leads Angela to betray the trust she gets from her surroundings is the fact that she is missing the meaningful lives she is after. What encourages her to start looking into other peoples' lives is the fact that everyone trusts her; the fact that she would never be caught. "Her clients…thought her absolutely reliable and trustworthy. No one had ever suspected that she explored their houses while along in them…Miriam and George were not observant people. Besides, they trusted her".

Another encouragement to this behavior came from the fact that this gave Angela the excitement and feeling of belonging that she wanted. "Angela lived alone…she has never been out with a man…she had no real friends…Gradually it had happened without her seeing an alternative…until, that is, Humphrey asked her to feed the cat while he was away…"

This is even more obvious when the narrator describes the beginning of the process, mentioning the fact that at first, the excitement of performing these tasks perfectly gave her the satisfaction, but not after a while. "At first, performing these tasks punctually and efficiently had been enough…but after a time she had grown restless". The strong connection between the quest for excitement and meaning, and the trust Angela got from others, is clear from the story, and Angela wouldn't have had the option to look into her neighbors lives without having their trust in her. This is the most basic belief we have in others, and Angela used it to create a fake world of her own, which is drawn from other people's life. "That is what the life of other people and not hers did not much trouble her…Searching for it…finding new additions to what had been examined and learned before, was something to look forward to".

Lesson Plan:

An Introductory means:

Teacher prepares many cards with different qualities (honesty, trust, meaningful life, happiness, wealth, health, responsibility, creativity, patience, etc.) Each pupil gets 5 candies and the teacher set an auction sale of the qualities. This raises the discussion of "What is the most important quality in our lives?" and the teacher and pupils can determine together on the sequence of importance. This allows the pupils to relate to the discussions raised in the story, regarding the fact that Angela chose "meaningful life" over "honesty" and "trust".

Main goal (Educational goal):


I think this story can raise issues relevant to pupils at all ages. This can make them more aware of trust and the importance of it in different kinds of relationships (parents, teachers, bosses, etc.)

Ways to instigate pupils' minds:

The introductory means is one way to instigate the pupils' mind. We can find more ways, such as: asking them what would they do? Try to determine the connection between the title and the story, if it can be seen in the excerpt. What would you do if you had found out that someone invaded you privacy?

Poetical figures:

There are many poetical figures in each story, and they are helpful for the reader. They enable us to understand better the meaning of the story and the writer's intentions. They convey a massage. In excerpts it is more difficult to find poetical figures but it is still possible.

The first poetical figure I would like to discuss is the third person narrative. The story is written and told to us from the point of view of an uninvolved narrator, who is looking at things from the outside. Angela is referred to as "She" for most of the story. This usually means some lack of identity. In Angela's case, it is partially true. She is looking for action, excitement and meaning in her life, and is doing so by invading other people's life. The narrator in this story is mostly subjective. He represents Angela's thoughts and inner world. He shows us what made Angela make different decisions. However, he is also objective from time to time, letting us know what had happened without mentioning Angela's thought and ideas.

The second poetical figure which can be seen in the excerpt is analepsis. Analepsis means some kinds of flashbacks to earlier event in the character's life, which may help us understand the current situation or current events. In our story, most of the knowledge we, as readers, obtain while reading, derives from these kinds of flashbacks to Angela's past. How she first started looking into other peoples' lives? Why and when did she leave her job at the bank? What made her do what she does and feel those emotions regarding life? etc. Coming to discuss this in class, analepsis may help us convey a message of processes. We can stress the fact that there were certain circumstances that have changed Angela's behavior. We can also imply that we have the ability to control our lives and avoid these kinds of habits and behaviors.

The last poetical figure I would like to discuss is personification. It is not completely obvious that Angela's character is being personalized. However, we can take some of the principles regarding personification and apply them here. Personification usually means that a certain character is represented by other characters or other aspects of the story. Here we can say that Angela is characterized by the comparison to other people in the story, her neighbors, from whom she "stills" identities and life. A big part of Angela's characterization is achieved when comparing her to the surroundings, the normal people who have families, jobs and reasons to live.


Analyzing: The pupils would be asked to Sequence the events in chronological order. This can be done in a chart or in a graphic organizer. Then, I would ask the pupils to think: How does analepsis (flashbacks) affect our understanding of the story? In order to encourage creativity, I would ask them to rewrite the beginning of the story according to the chronological order of event, in an interesting way. This can lead the pupils to a more thorough understanding of life processes and the quest for meaning in life.

Analyzing: I would ask the pupils what dilemma Angela faces at this point in the story. Is she aware of the fact that she is doing something extremely wrong? I would ask them to look for proof in the text, and I would ask them to decide in groups (or pairs) what would they do if they were in Angela's situation. They can also be asked to find a creative way to present their solution to the class (poster, show, dialogue, etc.). This will create some self-thinking of the pupils regarding moral dilemmas in life, and ways to solve them. How to obtain other people's trust in oneself. How to become trustworthy again in case you have lost someone's trust in you, etc.