Virtually visit Guadeloupe (an overseas region of France) with a story-specific Google Map.
Have students work in small groups to trace the changes in Gilda's feelings about herself, marking and analyzing relevant lines such as:
The women dancers were beautiful, even the old ones, the fat ones.
Evenings, on their way back to Busson, they were proud, like soldiers who'd come to liberate a city.
Discussion questions might include:
How does Gilda move from feeling ashamed of herself to feeling proud?
What is a "carnival life"? How does Gilda reclaim this term as a positive one? (Advanced students might also make connections to other formerly pejorative terms people have reclaimed in recent years, such as "queer.")
As a culminating assignment, students might write short stories in which characters discover new hope or pride in themselves.
Pairs Well with . . .
Other stories you might teach alongside "Carnival Life" include:
"Cavities and Kindness," a Japanese story about a trans woman's recovery from heartbreak, also available on this site. By Nao-Cola Yamazaki, translated by Kalau Almony.
Parable of the Sower, a literary science-fiction novel about a new community, led by a young African-American woman, that forms after an apocalypse. By Octavia Butler.
* Several characters in the story use racially charged language to describe themselves or others, something which educators, especially those working at the secondary school level, might consider explicitly discussing with students.