Juvenalian Satire

Juvenalian Satire

Powerful Literature


Consider your reaction to “Once Upon a Time” and discuss the following questions with your classmates.

  • Where in this story did you experience the strongest emotions?
  • What stays with you when you think about this story?
  • Some would say that the most powerful literature remains with you a long time after you’re done reading, so often it’s helpful to return to that point of intensity and take it apart. What made it work on you as it did?

Happily Ever After

Work Time

Look at the beginning of the second-to-last paragraph of “Once Upon a Time”:

“Next day a gang of workmen came and stretched the razor-bladed coils all round the walls of the house where the husband and wife and little boy and pet dog and cat were living happily ever after.”

As you answer the following questions, keep in mind what makes this paragraph satire and what the author is criticizing in the story. Take notes as you and your classmates discuss the sentence.

  • What’s happening in this sentence? Find and annotate the sentence, paying close attention to the words that are used, especially those that seem to contrast with one another.
  • Think back on fairytales that you have read or seen in movies when you were little and then find some similar elements in the story. Consider how these elements, alongside the horrific events of the story, create a powerful satire.
  • Is it effective satire? Is it enjoyable to read? Why or why not?

Open Notebook


Work Time

Find another example of juxtaposition in the story, making sure it includes a fairytale element.

  • Write down the example you’ve selected, and explain why you chose it.

Open Notebook

Then discuss your response with your classmates.

Vocabulary in Once Upon a Time

Work Time

Work with a partner on the following task.

  • Note any unknown words in “Once Upon a Time.” Look up definitions and rewrite them in your own words.

Open Notebook

Gordimer's Juvenalian Satire


Write a response to the following.

  • Gordimer’s story would be considered Juvenalian satire. Why? What’s the single harshest sentence in her story?

Open Notebook

Discuss your response with your classmates.

The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse


You may be familiar with the next story. You’re already familiar with Juvenalian satire. This story is an example of Horatian satire.

  • Read “The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse” by another ancient Roman satirist, Horace.
  • Annotate for satirical techniques you notice.
  • Begin a Venn diagram for Juvenalian satire and Horatian satire. You will continue to add to it in the next lesson.