In Missing May, the novel by Cynthia Rylant, the whole story turns on a road trip. The trip is suggested by Cletus, a classmate of Summer’s (the main character’s). Cletus suggests that Summer, Ob, and himself travel to see a medium who, he has heard, can communicate with the dead. The medium’s home/church is their main destination, but another important destination along the way is the West Virginia state capitol which Cletus admires and very much wants to see in person.
The trip, however, doesn’t go as planned. The trouble starts when the three travelers arrive at the medium’s house only to discover that she has died. Ob, especially, is very disappointed. In fact, he is so disappointed that he drives right past the state capitol, headed straight for home. Then suddenly, OB pulls himself together and says, “I’m turning this buggy around.” And he does. They make a U-turn and spend the day touring the state capitol. Later, back at home, Ob and Summer both seem to have benefited from the journey and are starting to get their lives back together.
What was it that made the difference here? Was it the journey or the destination? That is the question, and it is the link between the story and the writing prompt that follows.
But first, here are some more related questions for your class to consider.
- Which is usually more fun on a class field trip – the place you are going to visit or the ride there in the bus? What are some of the fun things that you remember from field trips?
- How about family vacations – do you enjoy the stops along the way, maybe restaurants or unplanned stops to see roadside attractions? What do you do to enjoy your time in the car?
- Have you ever taken a trip to a very ordinary destination, such as a grocery store, that turned into an adventure? What caused it to turn into an adventure?
OK, so once the discussion has gotten interesting, it’s time to present the writing prompt. Here it is.
The Destination or the Journey
When traveling, which do you think is more important – the destination or the journey?
Write about one trip that you have taken which illustrates how either the destination or the journey is the more important part of the trip. Be sure to include details about your trip, especially details that illustrate your point. End by drawing your own conclusion about which is more important – the destination or the journey – and explain your choice.
If you would like to read more teaching ideas for the novel Missing May, here is one with another follow up activity.
And here’s my first post about Missing May.