Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Exploring Conflict and Theme

Engaging with "The Necklace" 

K20 Center, Cara Gaddy | Published: May 25th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course World Literature
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3-5 class period(s)
  • Duration More 150 minutes


Students will work with conflict and theme as they engage with Maupassant's "The Necklace." Students will start by charting a video to look at how the different types of conflict are present. They then participate in a debate that encompasses the central theme of the story. After the debate, they will read the story while completing a dialectical journal. By listing the themes as well as the conflicts, students will compare those themes to our current society and complete a one-pager activity to be published for the class.

Essential Question(s)

How do types of conflict contribute to theme and author's purpose?


Engage: Students watch movie trailers/videos and chart different examples of conflict.

Explore: Students engage in a Philosophical Chairs debate centering on a statement related to the text.

Explain: Students read Guy D. Maupassant's "The Necklace" and fill out a conflict dialectical journal.

Extend: Students explore different themes from the story, write basic thematic statements, and use Elbow Partners to share real-life experiences related to those themes.

Evaluate: Students complete a one-pager over their chosen theme using evidence from the text to be published for the class.


  • White copy paper

  • Colored pencils/Crayons/Markers

  • "The Necklace" (available on CommonLit)

  • Student computers

  • Internal and External Conflict T-Chart (attached; one per student)

  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Philosophical Chairs Directions (attached; optional; one per student)

  • Philosophical Chairs Written Evaluation Sheet (attached; one per student)

  • The Necklace Dialectical Journal (attached; one per student)

  • The Necklace Thematic One-Pager (attached; one per student)


Begin the lesson by displaying the title slide on slide 2.

Display slide 3 and introduce students to the essential question: How do types of conflict contribute to theme and author's purpose?

Display slide 4 and introduce the students to the lesson objective: Students will be able to analyze how an author uses conflict in a story to develop the theme.

Display slide 5 and inform your students that they will watch Pip. As they watch the short clip, they should note different examples of conflict.

Once the video clip is over, have the students discuss some of the examples of conflict and problems that they noticed with an Elbow Partner.

Display slide 6 and inform your students that they will be participating in the instructional strategy called T-chart to help them determine if the problems they discussed with their elbow partners are internal or external. Pass out the attached Internal and External Conflict T-Chart or have your students set up their paper by drawing a vertical line down the center of their paper and labeling the two columns Internal Conflict and External Conflict.

Once your students have completed their T-charts, have a class discussion on how they charted the problems and conflicts on their papers.


Transition to slide 7 and inform your students that they will be participating in an activity called Philosophical Chairs. This is a debate style activity that centers on a statement related to the text.

Inform your students that Philosophical Chairs is a debate style conversation that is centered on listening to understand rather than listening to respond.

Display slide 8 and share the directions for participating in the activity and go over it thoroughly. At this time you can also choose to disseminate the Philosophical Chairs Directions handout so students have a copy of the directions in front of them throughout the activity. Your students can use the back of this paper to take notes as they listen to their classmate speak.

Display slide 9. The statement that the students discuss is "Money can buy happiness." Reiterate that everyone must fully understand the statement and rules before starting the activity. As the facilitator, you should have a few responses prepared to help guide the conversation along.

As the debate begins, instruct the students to move to different sides of the room. One side should be the agree side, and the other the disagree side. Once all students have moved to their chosen sides, you may begin the debate. As facilitator, you should choose the side with the most students on it to go first.

After the debate, pass out the Philosophical Chairs Written Evaluation Sheet and instruct your students to reflect on the activity while filling it out.


Transition to slide 10 and say, "Everyone, at one time or another, has felt that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence—in other words, that someone else's life is better than our own. We believe that having what someone else has will make us happy . . . until we experience the negative effects of envy."

Instruct your students to complete a quick write of just a few lines to jot down their feelings about envy. Ask, "Have you ever seen or felt its negative effects?" Time the students for three minutes while encouraging them to keep their pencil/pen to paper that entire time. When the time is up, have them share with a neighbor, and ask for three volunteers to share with the class.

Display slide 11 and inform the students that they will read a short story written by 19th century French author Guy D. Maupassant called "The Necklace." Pass out copies of the short story or instruct your students to log in to their Common Lit accounts. You can read this as a silent sustained reading or a read aloud depending on what works for your students.

After reading, give a review over the different types of conflict. The types of conflict should be divided into two categories: internal and external.

Display slide 12 and explain to students that external conflicts are situations outside of their control. These can be classified as:

  • Man v. Man

  • Man v. Nature

  • Man v. Society

  • Man v. Fate

Ask students if they can think of an example for each type of external conflict. For example, you might use "The Hunger Games" as a reference point, since many students have read it or seen the film.

Display slide 13 and explain that internal conflicts are conflicts inside a character's mind. These can be classified as:

  • Emotional Conflict: any conflict that causes an emotional response.

  • Insecurity

  • Moral Dilemma: when a character must decide from right or wrong

If you're keeping with the same theme as before, "The Hunger Games," ask your students if they can think of examples for each type of internal conflict.

Display slide 14 and pass out The Necklace Dialectical Journal handout. As a class, chart the different types of conflict throughout the story. There is a key in the attachments, but students will point out all types of conflicts. On the back of the paper, students could make a list of other conflicts for extra credit.


Transition from the dialectical journals by displaying slide 15 and asking students what the theme of any story is.

Remind the students that theme is not difficult, but that in literature, as in life, we read stories to learn lessons and gain a glimpse from someone else's point of view. Tell the students that every author has a purpose when constructing a story, and that they are meticulous when selecting what message they want to send and how they want to send it. Display slide 16 and share that the theme, or "lesson learned," in the story makes up the author's purpose on what they want us, the reader, to understand about life.

Display slide 17 and ask the class what possible themes they can identify in "The Necklace."

After you have written several themes on the board, ask each student to get out a sheet of paper and choose a theme. Give them 1-2 minutes to jot those themes down on their paper.

Next, instruct students to turn their theme into a basic statement of advice for life. Some examples include:

  • "Don't be too consumed with vanity, or it will cause you to be selfish."

  • "Be thankful for what you have, or you will lose it all."

  • "Beauty is only skin deep."

  • "Looks can be deceiving."

  • "Sometimes telling the truth in the moment is difficult, but can be beneficial later on."

After students complete their statements, have them turn to Elbow Partners and share a time when they have seen the results/consequences/experiences involving their statement. Have them write down different real-world scenarios in which people experience the different situations explained in the statements. This provides a great segue into the final activity.


Transition to slide 18 and inform your students that they will participate in an activity called a one-pager over their chosen theme using evidence from the text to be published for the class. Pass out the attached The Necklace Thematic One-Pager rubric and directions, also noted on slide 19. Using their thematic statements from the previous activity, they should already have a theme ready to go for this assignment.

Give students one class period to complete the assignment. The main goal of this project is for the students to become more comfortable with using textual evidence. Once they have completed them, have your students post them around the room for their peers to see.