I know... I know... Nazi graffiti carved into a classroom desk where French author Victor Hugo is being studied... kind of defies the odds... It took me two decades to teach The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, it was worth the wait.
It's said that great writers think a lot of about exposition, and Hunchback has such a interesting hook to start. The playwright Gringoire being rejected for the aptly named "Pope of Fools" contest in pure Parisian fashion where the ugliest mug is touted through the streets and jeered. Of course, the hapless and innocent Quasimodo, whose name is a pun meaning "almost" and "the standard measure" which together implies "almost the standard measure" of a human being.
But the helpless child is also found by the villainous Count Frollo on Quasimodo Sunday, which is the first Sunday after Easter, where all mankind should be given a second chance... to live free and be redeemed.
The students love the book... these are 11th graders mind you and we've been studying the macabre. I gave them Poe's Tell Tale Heart, and Shakespeare's Macbeth, and Irving's Sleepy Hollow, and Dickens' Christmas Carol... but it's Quasimodo who breaks their hearts... I've seen to that. (Is that another white whale... what?)