‘The Censors’ Teaching Resources

“The Censors” is a (very) short story by Luisa Valenzuela, who was born November 26, 1938, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The full text, translated from Spanish, is available online.

The story centers on a young man named Juan, who takes a job with the government censorship office in order to intercept a letter he’d mailed to his friend, Mariana. Mariana had fled the country for Paris, and Juan knows that his letter may jeopardize her safety and his own. The plot turns ironic when Juan becomes so obsessed with his job that he ends up censoring his own letter, thereby incriminating himself and causing his own destruction.

My resources for study of “The Censors” cover the Oral Language strand of the Virginia Standards of Learning for English 10, having students work collaboratively with specific roles and assignments. Following discussion, each group makes a presentation of its findings to the class, while other students evaluate the presentations.

After we have read and discussed the story, I separate the class into groups, and each analyzes the story from a different angle: characters, conflict, humor, plot, and theme. The humor activity is most definitely the most difficult, because the humor in the story not as much “funny” as it is darkly satirical. In some cases, it would be best to divide the class into four groups and reserve the humor activity for a whole class discussion.

Available Teaching Materials

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11 thoughts on “‘The Censors’ Teaching Resources

  1. After reading “The Censors”, I’ve had a good response by showing a video of National Geographic’s show “Explorer” hosted by Lisa Ling. The episode is shot in North Korea and shows the extremely harsh and restrictive environment that North Koreans endure. It helped my students get a much more concrete context of the setting, and they were better able to understand the character Juan.

      • Uhhh….North Korea? The story is based in Argentina. This story is about the Argentines (Latin American) during the military dictatorship of the 1970s. I don’t see the connection. This time period was remarkable for it’s violence.

        • The video is to provide a frontload to students about CENSORSHIP, not the time period nor its violence necessarily. I think it’s great and my students got a better understanding of what censorship can be.

  2. Nice ideas. I translated the ones for characters, theme and humor and used them with the juniors who had been studying propaganda/censorship/human rights. They had watched “Historia oficial”, so these activities fit perfectly. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. I tried to click on the Teaching Material links, but the links are broken. I’d love to access the activities! Yours was the only lesson plan WITH handouts/activities on this short story that I could find online. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Handouts Available: ‘The Censors’ | mrshawke-dot-com

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