Tag Archives: stupid questions

Doublestupid Question

Anyone else have a hard time with the concept of doublethink the first time around?doublethink doubleread

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 29, 2013 in 1984


Tags: ,

Where are we?

Heartof DarknessYes, I realize we are reading Heart of Darkness and that much of the book takes place in the Congo.

But where are we at the start of the novella?  on a boat, right?  The book says “the Sea-reach of the Thames“.  I’m not sure where that is, but I’ve heard of the Thames before.

Wherever we are, we’re there with Marlow, the narrator, the lawyer, the accountant, and the Director of Companies.  I’ve got that part.

Why are we on the boat?  Something about a flood?  I don’t get feelings of worry or desperation, so is this just the tide?

I get the idea that the opening setting isn’t very important.  That it’s just a way for Conrad to trap some listeners for Marlow’s tale?

I can hear Marlow figuring it all out…

I want to tell a creepy tale about the inhumanity of civilized men in the deepest parts of Africa.  I know.  I’ll create a storyteller, and it will add to the mood of my book if I put my storyteller on a ship in the middle of the night.  yeah… that’s it.  And then I’ll make my storyteller talk about the time when he was on his boat in the middle of the night.  It will make the listeners feel like their right there with him in Africa.  Honey, call my editor.  I’ve got a great idea!

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what Conrad was thinking.
What were you thinking in the beginning pages of the book?

1 Comment

Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Heart of Darkness


Tags: , , ,

Where is his mother?

Huck FinnWhere is Huck’s mother?

We meet Huck’s father in early chapters of the book, but what about his mother?  Did I miss something?  Is Mrs. Finn mentioned in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

When I brought up the mother issue up on Saturday’s run, Christina reminded me that the parents need to be absent to make a good story about children.  The children need to be abandoned, orphaned, lost, runaway, etc…   Need proof?  Take a look at most Disney movies.  Where are the mothers?

Back to Huckleberry’s mom… Where is she?


Tags: , , ,


In chapter 2 Huck sneaks out of the Widow’s home to attend Tom’s first official gang meeting.  There are some questions about what business the gang is in.  They quickly decide that they are not burglars.  They are highwaymen who “stop stages and carriages on the road, with masks on, and kill the people and take their watches and money.”  Not everyone in the gang seems thrilled with the idea of murder.  Tom is firm.

…Some authorities think different, but mostly it’s considered best to kill them–except some that you bring to the cave here, and keep them till they’re ransomed.”

It seems that the gang has some deficiencies in their knowledge of vocabulary and that they could have benefited from Christina’s “Classic Word of the Day” posts.

“Ransomed?  What’s that?”
“I don’t know.  But that’s what they do.  I’ve seen it in books; and so of course that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Tom finally decides that “Ransomed” means keeping hostages until they are dead.  The other gang members see this as a lot of work.

“Now, that’s something like.  That’ll answer.  Why couldn’t you said that before?  We’ll keep them till they’re ransomed to death; and a bothersome lot they’ll be too–eating up everything, and always trying to get loose.”

“Why can’t a body take a club and ransom them as soon as they get here?”

Can you imagine if Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn or Jim took over “Classic Word of the Day”?


Tags: , , ,

Stupid Question: What to Expect Edition

What does “knocked-up” mean?

And if Caspar was in that delicate condition shouldn’t Isabel have married him?

Um, I mean . . . uh . . . okay, I don’t know what I mean, or what James meant either, for that matter.

Here’s the quote at the very end of Chapter XXXII.  Mr. Goodwood has come to see his former love after she’s written to inform him of her engagement.  There conversation is all but over, and he’s headed out the door.

‘How little you make of these terrible journeys,’ she felt the poverty of her presently replying.
‘If you’re afraid I’m knocked up – in such way as that – you may be at your ease about it.’ He turned away, this time in earnest, and no hand-shake, no sign of parting, was exchanged between them.

I’m guessing that he meant “put out, what do you think?


Posted by on February 18, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


Tags: , , , ,

Stupid Question about Portrait Characters

Has anyone else noticed that Henry James likes to bring new characters into his story, to write several pages including Mr. and Miss. X in the scene, and then to name them?

Example: Chapter 22.  It takes half of the chapter before we find out that the father’s name is Mr. Osmond and the child’s is Pansy.


Posted by on February 6, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


Tags: , , ,

Stupid Question about Sauce

The Portrait of a Lady volume 1, chapter 3

Mrs. Touchett is separated from her husband.  She has a long list of reasons why she doesn’t live in England.  Here’s one of the reasons.

She detested bread-sauce, which as she said, looked like a poultice and tasted like soap…

Bread-sauce?  What’s bread-sauce?

I’m familiar with applesauce.  I’ve even canned pearsauce but bread-sauce?

I googled it and found a recipe.

What I want to know is if any of you have consumed or prepared this classic British dish.





Posted by on January 16, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


Tags: , , , ,

Stupid Santa Question

Book Second, chapter 4

The merry troop of mummers is rehearsing in the Vye’s fuel house with Eustacia peeping at them through a hole in the wall.  Two of the mummers are described as having “darker habiliments” (attire).  One is the doctor.  The other is Father Christmas.

The Leech or Doctor preserved his character intact: his darker habiliments, peculiar hat, and the bottle of physic slung under his arm, could never be mistaken.  And the same might be said of the conventional figure of Father Christmas, with his gigantic club, and older man, who accompanied the band as general protector in the long night journeys from parish to parish, and was bearer of the purse.

Santa carries a club?  The “conventional figure of Father Christmas, with his gigantic club“?!

No wonder my niece used to be terrified of mall Santas. Have you ever heard of Kris Kringle carrying a club?

1 Comment

Posted by on December 23, 2012 in The Return of the Native


Tags: , ,

Stupid Question: Glossary Edition

Is it a bad sign that a piece of fiction needs its own glossary?

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining here, I mean, I’m all for understanding the words I’m reading, but when a novel has a glossary, it makes me concerned.  Does that mean I don’t have to write Classic Word of the Day posts?  Or does it mean that I have to write more? Do your copies of The Return of the Native have glossaries, too?  Are these real words, or Hardy specials?


Posted by on November 27, 2012 in The Return of the Native


Tags: , , , ,

Stupid Question: Thievery Edition

In Part 3 Chapter 3 Levin and his brother are discussing the pros and cons of education for the peasants.  Levin makes the following observation:

A peasant who can read an write is far worse as a labourer.  And mending the high-roads is an impossibility; and as soon as a bridge is put up it’s stolen.

Uh, what?

How and why were Russian bridges stolen?


Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Anna Karenina


Tags: , , ,