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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 436

The Unbespectacled Man

  1. In John Stocks’ “Love Letters Lost,” how might the poem suggest that it refers both to literal documents and to the people who wrote them?

  2. In Edward Ahern’s “A Laughing Matter”:

    1. What does the title imply?
    2. “Mort” (French), like “Tod” (German), is the name of death. Is there reason to think that the Mort who introduces himself to Alan is not a real person? If not, what is he?
  3. In Mary B. McArdle’s Give Them Wine:

    1. Donas’ dialect and that of the “south people” seem to have drifted apart mainly in words referring to articles of clothing and natural phenomena. For example, Donas doesn’t know the words for “cow,” “clouds,” “sky” or “shoes.” What does Donas’ ignorance imply about life in Katera’s community?

    2. Why might one conclude that Donas and her hosts should not be able to converse at all, let alone as well as they do?

    3. What is the moral of Sebastian’s story? What does it imply about his society that he needs to tell it and that the audience is willing to listen to it?

    4. Donas is supposedly 15 years old. At what points does she think and act like a mother? Like a grandmother?

  4. In Ásgrímur Hartmannsson’s Error:

    1. How many crimes does Jonas commit in chapter 24 alone?
    2. In what conspicuous way does the description of the apartment and the deceased seem deliberately to spare the readers’ sensitivities? Might Jonas’ intrusion be justified if the description were more realistic?
  5. Ian Chung’s “The Uninvited” takes the form of a primitive creation myth.

    1. The narrator appears to represent a group of creators. What can be inferred about them? Are they benevolent and wise? Or are they gullible and inexperienced? Why do they consider the people’s use of fire a “lie”? Does it make the creators irrelevant to the “people”?

    2. All the colors but “green” reflect popular racial stereotypes. Do the colors actually represent those stereotypes or something else? Which are the “good” colors and which are the “bad”? Could a less infelicitous form of symbolism have been chosen?

    3. What impression does the narrator give of the creators at the end? Are they angry and vindictive? Or are they dismayed and indecisive? Do they have the courage of their own convictions?

    4. Who or what are the “uninvited”: the creators? The people of various colors? Something else?

  6. Responses welcome!

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