Karel Čapek: The Farm Murder

An exercise from language lessons to unpick the forming of and attitude towards opinions

The activity begins with controlled reading of Čapek’s short story in the Reader. Synopsis: A man named Vondráček is accused of murdering his father-in-law František Lebeda using an axe. He was motivated by reluctance of his father-in-law to sell him a field neighbouring Vondráček’s plot. Vondráček thought that by getting rid of his father-in-law, he would be able to farm as he’d please…
After reading, the students watch parts of the Czech short film Zločin v chalupě (The Farm Murder), especially the parts depicting the court trial with Vondráček. This is followed by the students’ individual work – they are to note their views of the crime and the trial. Then the class is split into two groups: one should defend the accused, while the other should convince the jury of his guilt.
In the end, each student can write a message on the piece of paper on a noticeboard, addressing the characters as well as the writer and expressing their views and opinions regarding the case.

How this resource relates to Shaping Characters objectives

  • Attitudes and attributes
  • Education techniques
  • Motivation and resilience

Actual outcomes

Educational objective: Becoming aware of the moral concepts of justice, crime, and punishment

Qualities in focus: Forming own opinions, attitude to people, understanding

Target group, age of the students: 14 years

Suitable for: language and literature

Resources required

Czech literature book for the 9th grade (D. Dorovská, V. Řeřichová: Reader 9, Prodos, pp. 40–42); part of the film of the same name; workbook; piece of paper on a noticeboard

Time needed

1 unit (45 minutes)

What could have been done differently or is planned for future repeats?

At first, all students sided with the judges, unambiguously sentencing Vondráček to death. After watching the dramatisation and hearing various opinions of the students from various points of view, the negative attitude against the accused toned down over time.

Links to related resource files

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