Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                         

Terms of Use  TWM Blog 



    LEARNING GUIDE TO:


    HIGH NOON — For English Language Arts Classes

    SUBJECTS — Literature/Myths of the Western genre; Literary devices: symbol;
            motif; foil; and expository phase;
    SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Marriage; Leadership; Courage;
    MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Responsibility; Citizenship.
    Age: 11+; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 1952; 85 minutes; B & W; Available from Amazon.com.


    Description: In this Western classic, an outlaw recently released from prison is on his way back to the town he had once terrorized. He intends to seek revenge against the marshal who had sent him to prison. His gang has reassembled and awaits his arrival on the noon train. The marshal, newly married and scheduled to leave town to begin a new life, must decide between staying to face his old adversary or keeping to his plans to leave town thereby relinquishing lifelong principles of standing up for what is right. But he cannot fight the outlaws alone. One by one people whom he had helped in the past, turn him away when he requests their assistance.



    Rationale for Using the Film in ELA Classes: This movie is an allegory criticizing the political and business leaders who did not resist the excesses of the Red-baiters and the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s. It is one of the few American movies in which the filmmakers had to disguise the political implications of their film in order to get it made. As such, the film itself is an artifact of American History. See TWM's Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project



    Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Learning Guide: Reading the Enriched Student Handout provided with the Guide and responding to the questions contained in the handout will provide background and context to any study of American history during the post-World War II period and will lead students to think about the issues raised by the Red Scare.



    Possible Problems: None.




 





See also TWM's Lesson Plan on the Expository Phase Using a Snippet from High Noon.

To use this film in American history classes, see High Noon — for American History Classes.


LEARNING GUIDE MENU

Rationale and Objectives
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Using the Movie in Class:
      Enriched Student Handout
      Discussion Questions
      Assignments





SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS
IN A SEPARATE DOCUMENT

Additional Helpful Background on the Red Scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s
Additional Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Links to the Internet
CCSS Anchor Standards
Selected Awards & Cast
Bibliography
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING HIGH NOON IN THE CLASSROOM


Literary and Cinematic Analysis of the Film

Aside from its historical significance, "High Noon" is a compelling story of personal courage in the face of overwhelming odds. It is one of the best Westerns ever made.

Symbol

In this story, the marshal represents the righteous man who is willing to stand up to wrongdoers. The criminals represent the McCarthyite Red-baiters who persecuted people with left-wing political beliefs. The selectmen, the minister, and the judge stand for the leaders of U.S. society who failed to stop the excesses of the Red-baiters. Kane's friends, who would not help him in the fight against the outlaws, represent people who deserted their friends when the persecutions came.

The name of the marshal, "Will Kane" is symbolic on several levels. "Will" is short for William which means "resolute protector". It may also be that using the shortened form of the name, rather than Bill, which is a more frequently used nickname for William, was meant to stress the fact that Will Kane is a man who makes his own destiny; he is a man of unshakeable will. "Kane" is an ironic reference to one of the characters in the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Cain killed his brother out of jealousy, because God valued Abel's sacrifice above Cain's. When God asked Cain where his brother was, Cain famously replied, "Am I my brother's keeper?" In this story, Will Kane is the only person in town who feels any responsibility to his brothers, his fellow townspeople.

In addition, each of the townspeople represents a type of rationale supporting a decision to do nothing in the face of evil.

    The judge and the deputy marshal simply abandon their posts. As public officials, they have a duty to stay and help the town resist the outlaws. The Judge could have organized townspeople to help Kane. The deputy's obligation is to be with Kane in the fight.

    Kane's friend, Herb, will stand with the marshal only if others do as well. Thinking about his responsibility to his family, Herb is willing to take some risk but not a lot. This understandable argument has a fallacy: if Kane is killed, the whole town, including Herb and his family, will be at the mercy of the outlaws. Herb's problem is that if he is the only one to stand with Kane, he becomes a target for the outlaws and increases his personal risk. What Herb should do is to round up some of the other townspeople to help Kane.

    Kane's wife, before she gets off the train and goes to help her husband, insists on moral purity. In the situation of this story this is simply not practical. Fortunately, for Kane and for the town, Amy realizes that she must help her husband and goes to his assistance.

    The old marshal, Kane's mentor, claims that his hands are crippled by arthritis and Kane will worry about him in a fight. Perhaps, but Kane obviously thinks that the old man will be helpful. There is no other reason for Kane to go and see the old man and ask for his help.

    Some of the people in the church claim that the fight is a personal matter between Kane and Miller, the head of the outlaw band. It is, but the argument doesn't stand up to analysis because Miller's hatred of Kane arose out of Kane's efforts to enforce the law for the benefit of the town. The town should support a man who put himself on the line for its betterment and it should act to protect itself against Miller's evil, regardless of any personal dispute between Miller and Kane.

    Other townspeople, exemplified by the selectman in the church, use erroneous, selfish, and shortsighted rationalizations to avoid confronting the outlaws.

    Mrs. Ramirez does help Kane by encouraging Amy to stand by her new husband. However, Mrs. Ramirez refuses to help Kane directly. Perhaps it's because she was still angry with Kane for leaving her. But that's no reason to let the man die. Mrs. Ramirez claims that she owes nothing to the Hadleyville community because it never did anything for her. That is only partially true, because she has made money on her business interests in the town, even if she has had to disguise some of them. And who will stop Miller from coming after Mrs. Ramirez if Kane is killed?

Foils

A character whose traits are different than those of another character in a manner that relates to a theme of the story is called a foil. Most foils are used to highlight traits of the protagonist, but foils can be used to highlight traits of other characters. Foils work by contrast, in which a character is described by pointing out ways in which it is different than the foil. Contrast is one of the basic methods of rhetorical exposition.

"High Noon" uses many foils to describe the character of Will Kane. In fact, just about every character in the story is a foil for the marshal. Miller and the gang of outlaws, are very much the opposite of the law enforcing, considerate Kane. The townspeople who seem interested only in saving themselves or in advancing short-term interests, provide sharp contrast to the responsibility and far sighted-ness of the marshal. Kane's adherence to duty, even to a duty that is technically not his, is emphasized by the lack failure of the deputy, the judge and the selectmen, to do their duty to protect the town. Amy Kane's adherence to nonviolence contrasts Kane's willingness to fight.

One of the finest examples of contrast and the use of a foil to explicate differences in character, can be seen in the contrast between Mrs. Ramirez, the dark haired, dark skinned Mexican saloon keeper/bar girl/former lover of Will Kane, and Amy, his blond, light skinned white/up-tight/Quaker/newly wedded wife. At the beginning of the film, these two women are different in almost every respect, except in their love for Kane. The visuals emphasize their differences, even when they are doing the same thing. In one scene, well into the film, both women are in a buckboard. Kane's wife holds the reins heading rapidly down the thoroughfare to the train station where both women hope to escape the pending bloodshed. Kane's wife urges the horses onward and does not even glance at her husband, who is walking in the opposite direction in preparation for the showdown with the outlaws. The other woman, Mrs. Ramirez, looks at Kane, turning in her seat and watching him as the buckboard speeds down the street. One woman looks forward; one looks back; one pointedly ignores Kane and the other focuses her gaze on him.

Mrs. Ramirez makes it clear that if Kane were her man, she would fight for him, highlighting Amy Kane's initial refusal to back her husband and the importance of her final decision to assist him in the fight against the outlaws.

Theme in "High Noon"

There are several lessons to be drawn from this story. One is best accessed by looking closely at Will Kane and how his problem is solved. Often, it is the characteristic used by the protagonist to triumph over adversity that leads the viewer to a life lesson. Will Kane stays true to his principles even though it means that he must face adversity alone, outnumbered and risking death in the process. Despite the betrayals of the townspeople, he succeeds. Another theme is based on the character of Amy Kane. This story tells us that one should not sacrifice love for mere principle, even as important a principle as nonviolence. This idea has its limits. What if Amy had been married to Frank Miller, the outlaw, and had interceded in the gunfight to kill the marshal? But Amy certainly did the right thing in this situation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this story illustrates the principle that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing. The outlaw gang in this story was defeated through luck. The town had the good fortune to have a marshal with the integrity of Will Kane. Everyone was lucky that Kane's wife came through to help him at the crucial moment. However, it could easily have gone the other way. When this movie was made, in the depths of the Red Scare with people losing their jobs for their political beliefs and the country's leaders doing nothing to stop the excesses of the Red-baiters, it looked as if the American people could permanently lose important freedoms.

Myths of the Western Genre

For an introduction to the myths of the Western genre, see TWM's Handout Myths of the Western Genre -- Are American Men Just a Bunch of Cowboys? The following section will analyze the myths of the Western genre as they appear in "High Noon".

Will Kane and the Myth of the Western Hero

In most Westerns, the hero takes on the bad guys without ever experiencing fear or self-doubt. "High Noon" is not most Westerns. Will Kane admits to being afraid and his actions are constantly being called into question by his wife, the townspeople, and his friends. "High Noon" is not just an action adventure set in the Wild West; it's also a study in character.

The film's sophistication is evident in its portrayal of the Western hero. Will Kane has resigned as town marshal and married Amy, a beautiful Quaker woman. She has convinced him to build a new life as a shopkeeper in another town. Kane is going to become the antitheses of the Western hero. Word reaches the wedding party that the town's pariah, Frank Miller, will arrive on the noon train. He is looking for revenge; the primary target is Marshal Kane who brought him to trial and sent him to jail. Kane and his wife hurriedly pack their belongings into a buckboard and head out of town. Clearly this cannot be our fearless hero. No Western hero would run away and leave a town undefended against the savagery of the outlaws, least of all for a wife.

As Kane and Amy ride out of town, the audience sees the pull of dueling values on Kane's face; he just cannot run from trouble and leave the town he has served so long undefended. Kane reins in the galloping horses, returns to town, goes to the marshal's office, and puts on his badge. He stays to fight it out with Miller and his gang, even though his new wife tells him that she will not be there when he finishes his so-called duty. The marriage is over in less than an hour.

Upon his return to town, Kane regains his status as a Western hero. He is single again, ungoverned by a domesticating woman; he is acting on his principals and being courageous. He is willing to fight the outlaws and willing to do it alone if no one will help him; he is intelligent and experienced; he is physically fit, strong enough to beat his young deputy in a fist fight, though just barely; and he is a member of mainstream culture. Kane is an outsider by virtue of the fact that he intends to leave town as soon as the fight with the Miller gang is finished. His outsider status is confirmed when none of the townspeople will help him.

However, the character of Will Kane is more than just a classic Western hero and this story, even without its political implications, has more complexity than the usual Western. In many ways the character of Will Kane embodies the exemplary exception to the hero of the Western genre. Kane doubts whether he has made the right decision. The Western hero is usually immune from doubt. Years before, Kane had been in a relationship with a Mexican woman. We know that he still has some regard for her because he takes the time to warn her that Miller, who bears her a grudge, is coming to town. The 1950s, when this movie was made, was a time of racial and ethnic prejudice. A Western hero of that period wouldn't usually consort with a Mexican woman; it is inconsistent with his membership in the mainstream culture. In addition, Kane is older than most Western heroes. Moreover, his attempts to convince the townspeople to band together and resist the Miller gang are an exercise in frustration. The Western hero seldom has to try over and over again, meeting failure after failure. The male camaraderie which usually supports the Western hero is completely missing from this story. Finally, when Kane wins the big gun fight, he does so only because a woman intervenes at the crucial moment. Western heroes are not usually saved by a mere woman.

Kane's relationship with authority is also complex. The hero of the Western genre usually has a disdain for authority. However, as marshal, Kane is the authority. But as the story progresses he is abandoned by the other authority figures in the town: the judge, the selectmen, the minister, and even his own deputy. In addition, Kane's authority is suspect because he has already resigned. Fundamentally, this marshal is an outsider, upholding the right and protecting the town on his own even when the town doesn't want to be protected.

At the end of the film, Kane rejects the corruption of the town and his status as the traditional Western hero by throwing his badge into the dirt and riding away with his wife. He is leaving to become a modern married man who will not live by the gun. He'll probably put on an apron as he waits on people at his store. Kane is paving the way for a new American hero, moving outside of the Western genre and into the reality of modern life.

Amy Kane

Westerns usually don't concern themselves with the struggles of their female characters. In the Western genre the single requirement for the primary female character is beauty. It's an understatement to say that Amy Kane, played by Grace Kelly, is a pretty woman. However, unlike most leading ladies of the Western genre, Amy Kane is a powerful force in the story. When the movie opens she has prevailed upon her man to abandon the role of the Western hero and become a shopkeeper. The female principle of domestication has triumphed over the hero of the Western genre. Her power is shown in the titanic struggle that Kane has with himself before he turns the buckboard around and goes back to town. Later in the story, Amy's power is confirmed as she intervenes in the gun fight to save her man and attacks Miller even as he holds her at gun point. Her power is reasserted at the end of the film as Kane resumes his role as the modern man, the shopkeeper antithesis of the Western hero. It is no coincidence that when Will and Amy leave town the second time, it is Amy who is driving the buckboard. This female character is more than just a pretty face.

The character of Amy Kane goes beyond the usual female character in a Western in another way. More than any other character in the story, Amy develops and changes as the noon train approaches. At first, she is willing to give up her husband for her Quaker belief in nonviolence. At the end, she has chosen her husband over her beliefs, participated in a gun fight, killed a man and set up Kane's fatal shot at Miller by clawing at Miller's face. Amy's change is not only a matter of the development of her character, it's also an important part of the plot and a major contribution to the theme of the story. Amy is the only person to come to her husband's assistance and her intervention turns the tide in the gunfight. Her character presents a powerful argument that principle cannot stand against love. As described above, this concept has its limits, but Amy did the right thing in the context of this story.

The Absence of Male Camaraderie

Interestingly, the story in "High Noon" emphasizes the Western genre's myth of male camaraderie in its absence through the lack of support that Kane is able to muster from the town. This is the central conflict in the film; where there should be bonded and loyal males coming to assist Kane, there are none. In the several arguments presented by various characters to justify their failure to back Kane against Frank Miller, the reasoning is most often seeped in self-interest. Emphasizing the statement the movie is making about the demise of the atavistic myth that men can only relate to other men, the only help Kane receives is from his Quaker wife who shoots one of the outlaws and fights against another. Kane is saved by a woman rather than his male friends and it is with her that he rides out of town.

The Edenic Myth in "High Noon"

The Edenic myth, the idea that nature is a perfect place, is turned on its head in this story. As a psychological story, "High Noon" is concerned with how the individual hero can maintain his integrity while corrupt values begin to close in on the West. As such, the Edenic myth begins to fade and nature becomes an antagonist. "High Noon" is set in a dismal town with a lonesome railway station. The surrounding landscape is dry, slightly wasted, hinting that the Edenic Myth is in decline. If Eden exists at all, perhaps it is located where Kane and his wife intend to go, away from the corrupt town, to the great Somewhere Else.

"High Noon" and the Child Savior

Although not integral to the story line, the young boy who tries to help Kane, embodies some aspects of the child savior. He doesn't save Kane, but he is the only hope for the town. At first, the boy serves as a messenger as Kane tries to summon his friends. Later, when everyone else has abandoned Kane, the boy begs to be allowed to take up a gun and stand with the marshal in the gunfight to come. Kane lightly scolds the boy for his temerity. After the gunfight, the boy drives the buckboard up to the crowd in the thoroughfare so that Kane and his wife can leave town and effectively ride off into the sunset. Kane pats him affectionately. This child has been the single source of help from the citizenry and he is the only person who receives an affectionate farewell from Kane. If the town is ever to develop people of character and integrity, like Will Kane and unlike the current adult population, it will be through this boy and the children he represents. They are the only hope for the future of this town. In that way the boy will be the child savior of the town.



Motif

In terms of motif, the clock dominates the film. The camera focuses on its movements as the hour for the showdown nears. The image of the clock grows larger and the sound of ticking grows louder as the film progresses. As a result, viewers cannot help but be concerned with the passage of time. Another important motif is the shot down the railroad tracks in the direction from which Miller will come. The camera looks down the tracks which reach a vanishing point far into the distance. This shot offers the viewers an example of infinite regress, implying that the impending confrontation is eternal. Forever there will be opposing forces which arrive from elsewhere and threaten the harmony in any particular situation. Eventually, a force will come to challenge the peace established in any setting.

Expository Phase

See TWM's Snippet Lesson Plan for the Expository Phase Using "High Noon".

Cinematic and Dramatic Techniques of Note

"High Noon" is an example of writing in "real time." The action of the film takes place in the hour and a half before Frank Miller arrives in town on the noon train. The frequent references to time and shots of the clock serve to heighten tension and build suspense.

Gary Cooper received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in this movie. The audience can read his face and understand what he is thinking.

There are occasions when there is simply no music in the movie. The silence highlights the moment, more than any music could do.

Click here for additional Helpful Background.







Discussion Questions:




Discussion Questions Relating to the
Literary and Cinematic Analysis of the film

1.  See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.

SYMBOL

See questions 3 and 4 above, relating to the use of this movie in U.S. History and Government classes.

2.  In the symbolic system of this story, what does the town stand for? Suggested Response: The U.S.A.

[The following question is appropriate for students who have studied Animal Farm or some other allegorical story with a political theme. If students have studied a politically themed allegorical story other than Animal Farm, substitute the name of that work.]

3.  Is "High Noon" an allegory or simply a work with powerful symbols? Suggested Response: An allegory is an artistic device in which the characters and events of the story closely represent something else. The literal content of an allegorical work is less important than its symbolic meaning. Many commentators describe this film as an allegory with the marshal representing the courageous people who stood up to the Red Baiters while the townspeople are symbols for the political and business leaders, as well as ordinary Americans, particularly the business leaders and workers in Hollywood, who kept silent, allowing the professional anti-communists to persecute people because of their political beliefs. The Miller gang represents the Red-Baiters who persecuted people for their political beliefs. However, other commentators point out that the characters don't stand for specific people as in the case of many allegories and that there are important differences between the people and forces being symbolized and the characters in the story. They contrast the movie to George Orwell's Animal Farm in which one character represents Lenin, another Stalin and another Trotsky; the pigs are the communists, other animals are the peasants, etc. However, to make the movie an allegory, there would have to be a figure who was attacking people for their beliefs rather than simply seeking revenge. The character of the wife would have to relate to an important historical figure or force, but it does not appear to do so. The question seeks an opinion and there is no one correct answer. Strong responses will note that any work of fiction that contains powerful symbols can be said to contain elements of allegory, but the key to the concept of allegory is that the symbols are closely related to specific people or to specific groups. If "High Noon" is allegory, it is of the most general, least specific, kind. In the end, the important point is that the symbols in "High Noon" are very strong and help communicate the theme of the work.

FOILS

4.  Give some examples of the use of the literary device of the foil in this film. How do the foils highlight traits of Kane or of Amy and how do they help the audience discover the theme of the film? Suggested Response: See Helpful Background section on Foils for a full description of the use of opposition in this film.

THEME

The questions set out above for U.S. History and Government classes also relate to theme.

5.  Are Mrs. Kane's actions in abandoning her pacifist beliefs and joining her husband in the fight against the Miller gang, an argument against pacifism as a moral and political philosophy? Suggested Response: There is no one right answer to this question. The purpose of asking it is to start a debate.

6.  Will Kane said, "This is my town. I've got friends here." What does this tell you about the meaning of community? What did Kane find out about his community? Suggested Response: A sense of community is based on relationships of trust, cooperation and loyalty among people who live in the community. Kane learned that the people in Hadleyville didn't understand the true meaning of community.

7.  Is there a feminist sub-text to this movie? Justify your response. Suggested Response: A strong argument can be made that there is. See the discussion about Amy Kane in the Helpful Background section and note the economic power, independence, intelligence, and wisdom of Helen Ramirez
More questions relating to theme can be found in the Social-Emotional Learning section and in the Ethical Emphasis sections below.
MYTHS OF THE WESTERN GENRE

8.  How does Will Kane regain the attributes of the Western hero when he turns the buckboard around and goes back into town? Suggested Response: At the beginning of the film, Kane has resigned as town marshal and married Amy, a beautiful Quaker woman. She has convinced him to build a new life as a shopkeeper in another town. What made Kane a successful Western hero, being experienced and willing to fight with his gun, willing to do it alone, and being physically fit will not be needed in Kane's new environment. In addition, he is no longer single. In many ways, Kane is on his way to a life in which he will become the antitheses of the Western hero. However, by returning to Hadleyville to fight the Miller gang, Kane regains his status as a hero of the Western genre. His wife has said that she will leave him if he stays in town for a violent face-off with the outlaws. He is therefore single again, ungoverned by a domesticating woman. He is acting on his principles and being courageous. He is willing to fight the outlaws with a gun and willing to do it alone if no one will help him. He is intelligent and his experience in gun fighting will be important in this conflict. He is physically fit, strong enough to best his young deputy in a fist fight, though just barely. Kane is an outsider by virtue of the fact that he intends to leave the town as soon as the fight with the Miller gang is finished. His outsider status is confirmed when no one in town will help him.

9.   How is Will Kane, even after he returns to town, different than most Western heroes? Suggested Response: In many ways the character of Will Kane embodies the exemplary exception to the hero usually found in the Western genre. In most Westerns, the hero takes on the bad guys without experiencing fear and without doubting himself. Will Kane admits to being afraid and his actions are constantly being called into question by his wife, the townspeople, and his friends. Years before, Kane had been in a relationship with a Mexican woman. We know that he still has some regard for her because he takes precious minutes to warn her that Miller, who bears her a grudge, is coming to town. In the 1950s, times of strong racial and ethnic prejudice, the Western hero wouldn't usually be shown consorting with a Mexican woman. It is inconsistent with his membership in the mainstream culture. In addition, Kane is older than most Western heros. His attempts to rally the town behind him are an exercise in frustration. The Western hero seldom has to try over and over again, meeting failure after failure. Finally, when Kane wins the big gun fight, he does so only because a woman intervenes at the crucial moment. Western heroes do not usually need to be saved by a mere woman.

10.  Will Kane is the marshal. Doesn't that mean that he is the authority figure in the town and isn't that inconsistent with the outsider status usually required of the Western hero? Suggested Response: As the story progresses Kane is abandoned by the other authority figures in the town: the selectman, the judge, the minister and even his own deputy. In addition, Kane's authority as marshal is suspect because he has already resigned. This marshal is an outsider, upholding the right and protecting the town on his own even when the town won't act to protect itself.

11.  How is Amy Kane different from the usual leading female character of the Western genre? Suggested Response: Westerns usually don't concern themselves with the struggles of their leading ladies, who usually have only a marginal role in the story. In the Western genre the single requirement for the leading female character is beauty. Certainly, Amy Kane, played by Grace Kelly, is a pretty woman. However, she is also a powerful force in the story. When the movie opens she has prevailed upon her husband to abandon the role of the Western hero and become a shopkeeper. The female principle of domestication has triumphed over the hero of the Western genre. Her power is shown in the titanic struggle that Will Kane has with himself before he turns the buckboard around and goes back to town. Later in the story, Amy's power is confirmed again as she intervenes in the gun fight, not once, but twice, to save her man. Her power is reasserted at the end of the film as Will Kane resumes his role as the modern man, the shopkeeper antithesis of the hero of the Western genre. It is no coincidence that when Will and Amy leave town the second time, it is Amy who is driving the buckboard. This leading lady is more than just a pretty face.

The character of Amy Kane goes beyond the usual leading lady in the Western genre in another way. More than anyone else in the film, Amy develops and changes as the noon train approaches. At first, she is willing to give up her man for her Quaker belief in nonviolence. By the end of the film, she has killed a man, choosing her husband over her beliefs. Amy's change is not only a matter of the development of her character, it's also an important part of the plot and a major contribution to the theme of the story. Amy is the only person in the town to come to her husband's assistance and her intervention turns the tide in the gunfight. Her character presents a powerful argument that principle cannot stand against love. As described above, this concept has its limits, but in the context of this story Amy did the right thing.


12.  What is the role of the young boy who tries to help Kane? Suggested Response: Although not integral to the story line, the concept of adults learning from an uncorrupted child, sometimes called the Child Savior Myth, is evident in the appearance of a young boy who tries to help Kane. At first, he serves as a messenger for Kane. Later, when everyone else has abandoned Kane, the boy begs to be allowed to take up a gun and stand with Kane in the gunfight. Kane lightly scolds the boy for his temerity with a few gentle words. After the gunfight, the boy drives the buckboard up to the crowd in the thoroughfare so that Kane and his wife can leave town and effectively ride off into the sunset. The boy has been the single source of help from the citizenry. If the town is ever to develop people of character and integrity, like Will Kane and unlike the current adult population, it will be through this boy. He is the only hope for the future of Hadleyville.

MOTIF

13.  Name the two most important motifs in this movie. Suggested Response: Shots of clocks and the shot of the railroad tracks showing infinite regress.

Characterization

14.  Take three important characters and describe them in a few words. Suggested Response: There is no one correct set of words that describe each character. Here are a few examples: Will Kane: resolute; protector; ethical; upright, a policeman through and through, brave; courageous, strong; incorruptible; loyal, smart; Harvey Pell, the Deputy: envious, ambitious, amoral, cocky, disloyal, unsuited to be a law enforcement officer; immature; pompous, foolish; Helen Ramirez: passionate, intelligent; wise; bitter; dignified; capable businesswoman; Amy Kane (before she decided to help her husband): beloved of her husband, brittle, unbending, uncompromising; determined, uncaring, disloyal; Frank Miller: cruel, unpredictable. These are just samples.

CINEMATIC DEVICES

15.  This film is an example of writing in "real time." The action of the film takes place in the short period of time before Frank Miller arrives on the noon train. How does writing in "real time" affect the film? Suggested Response: It builds tension and suspense. Writing in "real time" also requires that most of the background for the story is introduced through dialog. As a result the audience often has to wait to get the information necessary to understand the motivations behind the actions of various characters. See also TWM's Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction and Lesson Plans Using Film Adaptations of Novels, Short Stories or Plays.

For more discussion questions, click here.


Assignments:

Any of the discussion questions can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:

  • Take four large pieces of paper and write the name of one of the four major characters (Will Kane, Amy Kane, Helen Ramirez and Harvey Pell) at the top of each one. Divide the class into four groups and have each student in each group write a word on the poster that describes one trait of the character on the poster. The group assigned to Amy Kane should describe her character before she went to help Kane. Post the papers around the room. Then distribute index cards to each student. Have then write their name and period number on the card. After that, have students do a gallery walk to each of the four posters. Students should note one word that describes an important aspect of each of the main characters. It doesn't need to be a word on the poster. They should return to their seats and write two paragraphs describing how that word describes the character and how that characteristic relates to the theme or to the plot of the film. Teachers can change the scope of the assignment depending on the time available and the abilities of the class. The paragraphs should be graded according to the writing rubric used in the class.
  • Have students write an essay on the feminist sub text of "High Noon". [A good response would make the points set out above concerning the power of Amy Kane in this story and refer to the economic power, independence, intelligence, and wisdom of Helen Ramirez.]



  •  



    WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project and Movies as Literature Homework Project.


















    MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: See other films in the U.S. History and Culture section of the Subject Matter Index under the topic The Frontier and the West. For other movies dealing to some extent with Red Scares, see "Modern Times", "The Crucible", and "The Grapes of Wrath". For other films analyzed according to the myths of the Western genre, see "The Searchers" and "The Shootist".


























    Become a TWM Fan on











    Are you concerned that time will be wasted if you are absent from class? Worry no more  .  .  .   Check out TeachWithMovies' Set-Up-the-Sub.











    Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!













    Parenting Points: Your child will have no problem understanding the ideas and conflicts in the story and may be interested in some of the background information that opens the film to another level of understanding in terms of its social criticism. Click here for additional suggestions for parents.
















    Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

    Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.













































    Check out the trailer for this movie.












































































































































    Select questions that are appropriate for your students.



    This is Learning Guide was written by James Frieden and Mary RedClay.. This Guide was last revised on on June 2, 2013.




    Spread the GOOD NEWS about

    TEACHWITHMOVIES.COM!



     

    © TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Note that unless otherwise indicated any quotations attributed to a source, photographs, illustrations, maps, diagrams or paintings were copied from public domain sources or are included based upon the "fair use" doctrine. No claim to copyright is made as to those items. DVD or VHS covers are in the public domain. TeachWithMovies.org®, TeachWithMovies.com®, Talking and Playing with Movies™, and the pencil and filmstrip logo are trademarks of TeachWithMovies.com, Inc.

    TWM grants free limited licenses to copy TWM curriculum materials only to educators in public or non-profit schools and to parents trying to help educate their children. See TWM's Terms of Use for a full description of the free licenses and limits on the rights of others to copy TWM.