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A Place Where the Sea Remembers

Sandra Benítez

Theme: The Rhythm of Life
Grades: Grades 9-10

This best-selling novel, published in 1993, is set in Santiago, Mexico, and consists of short interrelated narratives, each one focused on a single character. The work depicts the triumphs and tragedies of common people—a flower-seller, a healer, a fisherman, a teacher, a midwife, and others—whose lives are interwoven by fate and passion. The characters struggle to survive and prevail in a difficult and mysterious world, one edged by the rhythms and power and beauty of the sea.

  1. Brainstorming List.
    Ask students to work independently or in small groups to make a list of the things that are most important in their lives, such as love, family, work, respect, etc. Then have them rank those items according to their importance. Encourage students to compare their lists and rankings with those of their classmates. Suggest that they compare their lists with what is valued by the characters in the novel.
  1. Concept Web.
    Ask students to work independently or in small groups to create a web or other graphic organizer that explores one or more of the following concepts: duty, family, security, loss, fate. You might encourage students who are having difficulty getting started to 1) define the concept, perhaps beginning with a dictionary entry; 2) give specific examples from their own experience to illustrate it; and 3) list their personal reactions and associations with the concept.
  1. What Matters Most.
    Have students create a scrapbook in which they represent one object or person that makes life worth living for each major character in the novel. For example, a picture of Tonito might be shown for Chayo, while a blue sky might be shown for Candelario. Students can draw the pictures themselves or look through magazines for pictures to represent the people and objects.

  1. In Memory. . .
    Invite students to create a shrine to place near the spot where Richard died. Have students reread the parts of Chapter 8 in which César and Beto create a shrine for Concha and her two "little ones." Remind them that they are building a shrine for a young boy; its appearance should reflect what he would have liked, along with what his mother and relations would like.
  1. Mexican Culture.
    In A Place Where the Sea Remembers, many different aspects of Mexican culture are mentioned, such as family relationships, religion, folk medicine, government, and the economy. Write a research paper on one of these topics or another aspect of Mexican culture. Whenever possible, use examples from the novel to shed light on your topic.

  2. Native American Tribes in Mexico.
    In A Place Where the Sea Remembers, we meet Inés, a Xochimilca Indian. There are over 50 known indigenous Native American tribes in Mexico. In this project, students will research a variety of topics related to the Native Americans of Mexico. They will create a multimedia presentation to illustrate their findings.

    Suggested Procedure:

  • Brainstorm topics for research with the class. You may wish to suggest possibilities, such as Native American religious beliefs and practices, current social problems, arts and crafts, literature, and the history of an ancient civilization (the Aztecs, Maya, Toltec, or others). Divide students into small groups. Each group will be responsible for researching one main topic.
  • Inform students that each group will give a presentation to the class about its topic and that the presentations can take a variety of forms. For example, students might graph or chart information, display pictures, play music, show artifacts, or create a multimedia display using current technology.
  • Allow students time to research and gather material for their presentations, as well as to rehearse. Make class time available so that students can consult with you about any difficulties they encounter. Then have each group present their material for the class, and encourage discussion and questions.