The Crucible and McCarthyism

The Crucible and
Bell Work: Please get out your
notebook. We will be taking several
notes today in class.
Historical Context
To varying degrees, every literary work
reflects its historical context- the social
and political conditions that shaped the
culture of its time. The Crucible,
produced in 1953, grew out of the
controversy surrounding Senator
McCarthy and his anti-communism
campaign. Political speeches on both
sides of the campaign contained logical
fallacies. See next slide for more details!
Logical Fallacies
Either/Or Fallacy insists that only two
choices exist in a
complex situation, as
when a politician says,
“You’re either with us
or you're against us."
Logical Fallacies
Name-Calling occurs when
politicians point the
finger of blame,
accusing their
opponents of moral
failings or lack of
Logical Fallacies
Overgeneralization - when politicians lump all
the members of an opposing group into a
single negative stereotype
Logical Fallacy
False Cause - When a politician
suggests that an opponent or an
opponent's policies are to blame for
what is wrong with the country.
Objectivity: provides balanced
information on a subject
Subjectivity: a personal stake in the
subject that affects the writer’s stance.
The pitch, the complaint, and
the moment
There is no such
thing as "just
Everything you read,
to varying degrees, is
aware of you, the
audience, and is
dealing with you in
some way.
One of the most productive ways of
analyzing a reading is to consider the
frame within which a piece is presented:
who its intended audience is, what is
seeks to persuade that audience about,
and how the writer presents himself or
herself to appeal to that audience.
Readings virtually never treat these
questions explicitly
What does this mean?
The pitch, the complaint, and
the moment
An element of situating a reading
rhetorically is to locate what it seeks to
accomplish and what it is set against at a
given moment in time. We address these
concerns as a quest to find what we call
the pitch, the complaint, and the moment.
The pitch
What the piece wishes
you to believe
The complaint
What the piece is
reacting to or
worried about
The moment
The historical and
cultural context within
which the piece is
To better grasp the historical context of The Crucible,
take notes on what you learn as you read the
selections and evaluate the objectivity of each
source. An objective source provides balanced
information on a subject. The first selection is about
McCarthyism. As you read it, try to determine
whether the article takes a position on the subject.
Each of the other selections was written by someone
with a personal stake in the issue at hand. As you
read, look for evidence of subjectivity—a personal
stake in the subject that affects the writer’s stance.
McCarthyism Pages 351-352
1. Historical Context: What preoccupied
Americans during the 1940s and 1950s? Record
your answers in your notes.
2. Reread lines 15-29 and use the information
presented to define McCarthyism. Does this
paragraph explain McCarthyism objectively or
does it take a position on the senator and his
campaign? Support your answer with evidence
from the text.
3. Identify the pitch, the complaint, and the
The Demons of Salem, With Us Still Pages 353-356
1. Reread lines 61-78. In light of this comment,
would you say that Elia Kazan took McCarthy’s
mission seriously? Explain.
2. Given her husband’s role in the McCarthy
hearings, why do you think Molly Kazan might
have objected to Miller’s comparison between
HUAC and Salem?
3. Which logical fallacy does a speaker commit
by calling his opponents spies and
4. Identify the pitch, the complaint, and the
Time Bends by Arthur Miller Pages 357-358
1. Reread lines 1-17. What details indicate the
significance for Miller of finding Starkey’s book?
2. As you have seen by reading these selections,
politics, journalism, and literature can share ideas
from a particular historical context. One article
provides information on the McCarthy hearings;
another addresses both the hearings and the writing
of The Crucible. The third provides personal
testimony from Miller himself. To synthesize what
you have read, identify a theme or idea that runs
through all three selections.
3. Identify the pitch, the complaint, and the moment.
Comprehension and Text Analysis
Page 359 # 1-5
Read for Information: Synthesize
To answer the writing prompt, follow the
steps on page 360.

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