There are many themes present throughout the novel Ghost. Students can explore this by identifying a theme themselves or in an “envelope activity”, where they are given a theme to track throughout their reading. In this activity, students will illustrate examples of themes in the novel, using evidence from the text.
Family is very important to Ghost. Despite his violent past with his father, Castle has a close relationship with his mother who works hard to care for him, work full time, and study to be a nurse at night and on weekends. Castle appreciates her sacrifices. He also has an aunt and cousin whom he sees on the weekends. Even though Mr. Charles is not related, he is a grandfatherly figure to Castle. For his first big race, his family joins him enthusiastically cheering him on with a big sign.
The Defenders is the first team that Castle has ever been a part of. He has longed to play basketball at his local court, but has never been included. He has a few friends at school, but has never confided in anyone about his past. Lu, Sunny, and Patty are the first friends he ever told and it makes him feel seen and accepted.
Coach Brody becomes an important mentor in Castle's life. At a time when he is longing for a fatherly figure, Coach gives him support, advice, and guidance to get on a better track. Coach is someone Castle can trust and he changes Castle's life considerably. The book demonstrates the vital importance of having a mentor.
Brandon Simmons torments Castle on a daily basis. He fears seeing him in school and when he does, he knows he has to maintain an unreasonable level of mental fortitude to resist the temptation of getting in a fight. Castle has a large “file of altercations”, but it is Brandon that ruthlessly makes fun of Castle’s background, clothes, his mother, his housing. The book shows how bullying behavior can affect a student's performance in school dramatically as it is impossible to feel safe and learn when you are constantly embarrassed or in fear of being shamed.
A major theme of the book is facing one's fears. Coach confides to Castle how he also had to overcome tremendous obstacles. Ghost has to learn to reconcile with his traumatic past, face bullies, own up to his mistakes and his fear of failure on the track. With courage, Castle is able to overcome all of these things and head towards a brighter future.
Other themes present:
Grade Level 6-8
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual
Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & MotifsCommon Core Standards
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Objective: Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Ghost. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
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