The Doom Stone by Paul Zindel Critical Analysis By Elaine Henderly, Theresa Pinkstock, and Robin Sharp-Arnett

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The Doom Stone by Paul Zindel

Critical Analysis

By Elaine Henderly, Theresa Pinkstock, and Robin Sharp-Arnett
Aesthetic Response:
The activity that I would do for this novel would be a T-Chart and descriptive essay. The idea came from The T-Chart would be used for the students to brainstorm the positive and negative attributes about a character in the novel. The students will use these charts to write a descriptive essay on one of the characters in the book. The following is an example of a T-Chart:

T-Chart for Alma


+ attractive in appearance - apprehensive

+ loyal to Jackson and her word - lives in a graveyard

+ loves her father a great deal - mother has left her and her father

+ very helpful

The character in the book that seemed most appealing to me was Alma. She had the determination of a mountain lion and the heart of a mother hen. There wasn’t anything that she wouldn’t do to help out Jackson and his aunt.

Alma seemed to be a very attractive young lady inside and out. She proved her loyalty to Jackson many times throughout the book as well as to her father. She could have left to go with her mother, but chose to stay with her father because she thought he needed her more. She proved her loyalty to Jackson by not telling anyone their secret no matter how scared she got. She is an extremely brave young lady.

I found myself feeling sorry for Alma because she was made fun of at school for living in the crematorium of the cemetery. It also seemed as if she had lived a rough life dealing with her mother and father’s differences and separation. Alma was a little apprehensive about adventuring, which could be a positive or negative aspect of her character. Jackson was a little too daring at times.

All in all, I felt the character of Alma to be a positive role model for kids my age. She showed her loyalty to her father and friend, and seemed to keep a positive attitude concerning her mother. Alma’s character made the book more interesting for me. Zindel built a very fascinating character and kept her simple

This student did a great job on both his T-chart and essay. An alternative to the essay could be to have the students make a collage exemplifying the characteristics in the T-chart. These three things could be combined for your advanced students and modified for your at-risk students.

Analyzing the Setting

In analyzing the story, Doom Stone by Paul Zindel, I feel the author has created a strong sense of the time and place. One example of this detailed description occurs at the beginning of the story, chapter one, when the author creates a vivid image of a rural, country setting with terrain made rough by steep hills. This image is created with such descriptions as, “shoulders of the road began to lift into eerie mounds, blocking the view of the countryside and making the road appear to drop into a long, open grave”; “beyond a hog farm”; and “beyond a thatch-roofed farmhouse.”

Another example of how the author creates a sense of when this story takes place is through the descriptions that follow. “Nothing would go smoothly on this journey”; “was mobbed with spring break travelers”; “heavy rains and violent turbulence.” Once again the author has created images in your mind of the story occurring in a remote location in London during a thunderstorm.

I feel the function of the setting as created by the author is to set the mood of the story. Through the descriptions of when and where the story occurs, the author has created a sense of strangeness or a spooky feeling. I had the visual of a desolate area during a night filled with storms; all of the needed components of a spooky story!

Intervention Strategy
As an anticipatory activity to reading The Doom Stone, I feel it is necessary to

introduce students (both at-risk and the general population) to Stonehenge, its

history and legends. This can easily be achieved via a photographic essay. The

following location on the Ohio Reading Center website incorporates such an idea:

Click on “Killing Ground”-Photographic Essay by John Huddleston

Sample Lesson over Stonehenge using a Photographic Essay

1. Distribute various pictures of Stonehenge (both black/white and color).

2. Ask students to study the images.

3. Ask students to discuss the following:

a. Of what might these be made?

b. Where might they be located?

c. For what purpose might they have been used?

d. Why might they be significant to you?

e. Why might they be arranged this way?

f. How do they make you feel?

g. What questions might you have for someone who knows more about these?

h. How are your feelings different when looking at black and white versus color

images of these?

i. Might these stones have any cultural, political, economical, or ecological


Writing Follow-Up

1. Make up a story or legend involving the items in the pictures.

2. Write about an incident which took/takes place at this location (today or

generations ago).
Additional Follow-Up

1. Students research the true history of Stonehenge. Share five new facts with

the class.

2. Compare/contrast discussion results and writing assignments to real history of


3. Draw a map of the area and surround cities.

4. Discuss what it might have been like to live during the time period Stonehenge

was created.

5. Plan a real trip to see Stonehenge.

6. Develop your own “symbols” to leave behind as a legacy. Be able to discuss why

you selected the symbols.
* Now that you have given the students some much needed background knowledge and

whetted their appetite surrounding Stonehenge, tell them that you have another

person’s ideas surrounding Stonehenge. Turn them loose on The Doom Stone by Paul


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