Click On Arrow Button To Change Page.
Short Stories Notes – All Units
|1||Neighbours Notes||Tim Winton|
|2||A Respectable Woman Notes||Kate Chopin|
|3||A Devoted Son||Anita Desai|
|4||The Treasure in the Forest||H. G. Wells|
|5||My Old Home||Lu Xun|
|6||The Half-closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Sinking Sun||Shankar Lamichhane|
|7||A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings||Gabriel Garcia Marquez|
Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.
a. Describe how the young couple’s house looked like.
b. How did the young couple identify their neighbours in the beginning of their arrival?
c. How did the neighbours help the young couple in the kitchen garden?
d. Why were the people in the neighborhood surprised at the role of the young man and his wife in their family?
e. How did the neighbours respond to the woman’s pregnancy?
f. Why did the young man begin to weep at the end of the story?
g. Why do you think the author did not characterize the persons in the story with proper names?
Reference to the context
a. The story shows that linguistic and cultural barriers do not create any obstacle in human relationships. Cite some examples from the story where the neighbors have transcended such barriers.
b. The last sentence of the story reads “The twentieth-century novel had not prepared him for this.” In your view, what differences did the young man find between twentieth-century novels and human relations?
c. A Nepali proverb says “Neighbors are companions for wedding procession as well as for funeral procession.” Does this proverb apply in the story? Justify.
d. The author has dealt with an issue of multiculturalism in the story. Why do you think multiculturalism has become a major issue in the present world?
Reference beyond the text
a. Write an essay on Celebration of Childbirth in my Community.
b. Do the people in your community respond with similar reactions upon the pregnancy and childbirth as depicted in the story? Give a couple of examples.
When they first moved in, the young couple were wary of the neighborhood. The street
was full of European migrants. It made the newlyweds feel like sojourners in a foreign
land. Next door on the left lived a Macedonian family. On the right, a widower from Poland.
The newly-weds house was small, but its high ceilings and paned windows gave it the
feel of an elegant cottage. From his study window, the young man could see out over
the rooftops and used car yards the Moreton Bay figs in the park where they walked
their dog. The neighbors seemed cautious about the dog, a docile, molting collie.
The young man and woman had lived all their lives in the expansive outer suburbs
were good neighbors were seldom seen and never heard. The sounds of spitting and
washing and daybreak watering came as a shock. The Macedonian family shouted,
ranted, screamed. It took six months for the newcomers to comprehend the fact that
their neighbors were not murdering each other, merely talking.
The old Polish man spent most of his day hammering nails into wood only to pull them out again. His yard was stacked with salvaged lumber. He added to it, but he did not build with it.
Relations were uncomfortable for many months. The Macedonians raised eyebrows at
the late hour at which the newcomers rose in the mornings. The young man sensed their
disapproval at his staying home to write his thesis while his wife worked. He watched
in disgust as the little boy next door urinated in the street. He once saw him spraying
the cat from the back step. The child’s head was shaved regularly, he assumed, in order
to make his hair grow thick. The little boy stood at the fence with only his cobalt eyes
showing; it made the young man nervous.
In the autumn, the young couple cleared rubbish from their backyard and turned and
manured the soil under the open and measured gaze of the neighbours. They planted
leeks, onions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broad beans and this caused the neighbours
to come to the fence and offer advice about spacing, hilling, mulching. The young man
resented the interference, but he took careful note of what was said. His wife was bold
enough to run a hand over the child’s stubble and the big woman with black eyes and
butcher’s arms gave her a bagful of garlic cloves to plant.
Not long after, the young man and woman built a henhouse. The neighbours watched it
fall down. The Polish widower slid through the fence uninvited and rebuilt it for them.
They could not understand a word he said.
As autumn merged into winter and the vermilion sunsets were followed by sudden, dark
dusks touched with the smell of wood smoke and the sound of roosters crowing day’s end,
the young couple found themselves smiling back at the neighbours. They offered heads
of cabbage and took gifts of grappa and firewood. The young man worked steadily at his
thesis on the development of the twentieth century novel. He cooked dinners for his wife
and listened to her stories of eccentric patients and hospital incompetence. In the street,
they no longer walked with their eyes lowered. They felt superior and proud when their
parents came to visit and to cast shocked glances across the fence.
In the winter they kept ducks, big, silent muscovies that stood about in the rain growing
fat. In the spring the Macedonian family showed them how to slaughter and to pluck
and to dress. They all sat around on blocks and upturned buckets and told barely
understood stories — the men butchering, the women plucking, as was demanded.
In the haze of down and steam and fractured dialogue, the young man and woman
felt intoxicated. The cat toyed with severed heads. The child pulled the cat’s tail. The
newcomers found themselves shouting.
But they had not planned on a pregnancy. It stunned them to be made parents so early.
Their friends did not have children until several years after being married — if at all.
The young woman arranged for maternity leave. The young man ploughed on with his
thesis on the twentieth century novel.
The Polish widower began to build. In the late spring dawns, he sank post and poured
cement and began to use his wood. The young couple turned in their bed, cursed him behind his back. The young husband, at times, suspected that the widower was
deliberately antagonizing them. The young wife threw up in the mornings. Hay fever
began to wear him down.
Before long the young couple realized that the whole neighbourhood knew of the
pregnancy. People smiled tirelessly at them. The man in the deli gave her small presents
of chocolates and him packets of cigarettes that he stored at home, not being a smoker.
In the summer, Italian women began to offer names. Greek women stopped the young
woman in the street, pulled her skirt up and felt her belly, telling her it was bound to be
a boy. By late summer the woman next door had knitted the baby a suit, complete with
booties and beanie. The young woman felt flattered, claustrophobic, grateful, peeved.
By late summer, the Polish widower next door had almost finished his two-car garage.
The young man could not believe that a man without a car would do such a thing, and
one evening as he was considering making a complaint about the noise, the Polish man
came over with barrowful of wood scraps for their fire.
Labour came abruptly. The young man abandoned the twentieth century novel for the
telephone. His wife began to black the stove. The midwife came and helped her finish the
job while he ran about making statements that sounded like queries. His wife hoisted her
belly about the house, supervising his movements. Going outside for more wood, he saw, in
the last light of the day, the faces at each fence. He counted twelve faces. The Macedonian
family waved and called out what sounded like their best wishes.
As the night deepened, the young woman dozed between contractions, sometimes
walking, sometimes shouting. She had a hot bath and began to eat ice and demand
liverwurst. Her belly rose, uterus flexing downward. Her sweat sparkled, the gossamer
highlit by movement and firelight. The night grew older. The midwife crooned. The
young man rubbed his wife’s back, fed her ice and rubbed her lips with oil.
And then came the pushing. He caressed and stared and tried not to shout. The floor
trembled as the young woman bore down in a squat. He felt the power of her, the
sophistication of her. She strained. Her face mottled. She kept at it, push after push,
assaulting some unseen barrier, until suddenly it was smashed and she was through. It
took his wind away to see the look on the baby’s face as it was suddenly passed up to
the breast. It had one eye on him. It found the nipple. It trailed cord and vernix smears
and its mother’s own sweat. She gasped and covered the tiny buttocks with a hand.
A boy, she said. For a second, the child lost the nipple and began to cry. The young
man heard shouting outside. He went to the back door. On the Macedonian side of the
fence, a small queue of bleary faces looked up, cheering, and the young man began to
weep. The twentieth century novel had not prepared him for this.