Studies in Literature
James Joyce, “Araby”
1. What method does the author use to communicate the boy’s character to the reader?
2. Is the girl aware of the boy’s feelings for her?
3. Why does the author select a young adolescent as the central character of his short story?
4. How does the boy’s earlier vision of Araby differ from the actual bazaar?
5. Return to the first line of the story, in which the author establishes the setting as a dead-end street. In light of the narrative’s events—especially the conclusion—why is this setting an appropriate choice?
6. What are the first details the boy notices about the actual bazaar, and how do these details work to reinforce the central contrast between imagination/actuality, hope/disillusionment?
William Faulkner, “Barn Burning”
1. To whom does “he” refer throughout the story?
2. Who are the central characters in the story?
3. What is the boy’s emotional condition as the story begins?
4. How is the boy’s loyalty to his father demonstrated in the early pages of the story?
5. Where and when does the story take place?
6. What features of Abner Snopes’ (the father’s) character does the author emphasize, and how are these features so clearly revealed?
7. How does the author reveal the boy’s anguish over his father’s behavior?
8. As a result of Sartoris Snopes running to inform Major de Spain that his barn is going to burn, what happens to the young Snopes’ father?
John Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums”
1. Consider Kennedy’s question #1 (p. 249): “When we first meet Elisa Allen in her garden, with what details does Steinbeck delineate her character for us?”
2. Consider Kennedy’s question #3 (p. 249): “How would you describe Henry and Elisa’s marriage? Cite details from the story.”
3. Consider Kennedy’s question #4 (p. 249): “For what motive does the traveling salesman take an interest in Elisa’s chrysanthemums? What immediate effect does his interest have on Elisa?”
4. Which details of the setting serve to parallel—to clarify and emphasize—Elisa’s feelings about her life on the ranch?
5. How might Elisa’s preparations for going out for dinner be likened to her care for the chrysanthemums?
6. Explain Elisa’s response after seeing her seedling chrysanthemums have been tossed out onto the road.
John Cheever, “The Swimmer”
1. See Kennedy, question 1 (p. 257): “How is setting used symbolically in the story? Focus on such details as the change in weather and specific locales such as the highway and the public pool.”
2. Neddy is seen as having “a gift for concealing painful facts.” What facts come to light during the story that he is most obviously suppressing?
3. See Kennedy, question 3 (p. 257): “At what point do you realize that all is not what it appears to be on the surface? What textual details lead you to that realization?”
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University