English Literature Questions

“The Rocking-Horse Winner”

1. Does the house really whisper, “There must be more money!”? Why do the voices go 

“mad” when there is more money? Explain.

2. What kills Paul?  Does his death have any symbolic meaning? Explain.

3. How do you interpret the ending of the story, particularly Uncle Oscar Creswell’s remark 

implying that Paul is better off dead?

“The Lesson”

4. Describe the narrator, Sylvia. Why is she angry? Does she know why she’s

angry? What do the story’s final words suggest about her?

5. Describe Miss Moore. Is she a dramatic character or simply a mouthpiece for the

author? Explain.

6. The story has a political point of view. Do you feel the author is preaching to

you, and thereby weakening the storytelling, or has the political intent been

effectively expressed without weakening the storytelling? Explain.

“The Conversion of the Jews”

7. What does the Sabbath dinner scene with his mother reveal about Ozzie’s character? How 

does it relate to his actions on the synagogue roof? Explain.

8. What does Ozzie learn up on the roof of the synagogue? 

9. Explain how these flat characters are essential: Mrs. Freedman, Itzie, and Blotnik.

“The First Day”

10. Describe the tone of the narrator in “The First Day.”

11. What is the narrator’s attitude toward her mother?  How can the reader tell?

12. At what point does the picture of the mother change? Why?  How does this change affect 

the mood of the story?

“My Singular Irene”

13. Describe the character development of the narrator.

14. Discuss the manner in which the narrator infantilizes Irene. Offer at least three

examples.

15. Interpret the story’s symbols: the butterflies, the house, the bridge, the nakedness, 

the river.

“The Great Grandfather of the Sandalwood Mountains”

16. What does Bak Goong learn from the Opium on the ship?

17. What is the effect of the enforced silence on Bak Goong, and how does he overcome it?

18. What is the relationship of the “Prince Cat-ears” story and the theme of silencing?

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