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Reading Comprehension Questions
1- How did Theodoric’s mother treat him from his childhood until she died?
- She kept him away from real life. She pampered him and therefore he was not used
to do anything on his own. His mother overprotected him until she died.
2- Why was Theodoric obliged to collaborate with the vicar's daughter in the
task of harnessing the pony?
-
Theodoric had a train to catch. He was supposed to get to the train station by
horse carriage. Since the handyman, who was supposed to care of harnessing the
pony for his ride to the train station was absent, he had to take care of it with the
vicar’s daughter.
3- What finally motivated Theodoric to take his pants off on the train?
-
The fact that the lady was sound asleep motivated him to take off his pants to get
rid of this mouse that kept on biting him.
4- Explain how Theodoric tried to hide himself from the lady in the train
compartment, after he had taken his pants off.
-
He took the rug that was on the floor of their train cabin and secured it on racks
located on both sides of the cabin. The rug that was hung up served as a
substantial curtain to hide him form the lady’s sight.
5- Why did Theodoric lie about having malaria?
-
He was probably trying to invent a reason that would explain why he had the train
rug covering him up to his chin. He was simply trying to invent something to
cover up for his awkward situation and embarrassment.
6- List three descriptions of Theodoric’s personality that are found in the
text.
-
He is easily emotionally destabilized “…he was conscious of ruffled feelings and
general mental discomposure.”
-
He is disgusted to go in the smelly stable and to take care of the pony. Real work
is not usual for him.
He usually wears well-brushed garments, but because he went in the stable he was
scared that he’d smell like the stable. He is really concerned about his looks.
He is also very prude. “He had never been able to bring himself even to the mild
exposure of open-work socks in the presence of the fair sex.”
7- What event awoke the sleeping lady?
-
The hanging rug that was used as a separator fell down to the floor and the noise
it made woke the sleeping lady.
8- What did Theodoric think the lady was doing after he told her why he
had ended up in such a position? Provide examples from the text.
-
He thought that she was making fun of his situation.
“Surely leaving off one small mouse wouldn’t bring on a chill,” she exclaimed,
with a levity that Theodoric accounted abominable.
Evidently she had detected something of his predicament, and was enjoying his
confusion.
Characteristics of the Story
1- What is the genre of this story?
-
Humoristic short story. Fiction.
2- What are the different elements in this text that support such a genre?
-
It is fairly short.
Like many short stories, the ending is abrupt and open, though there is no real
moral. It is very ironic.
-
3- What is the setting of the story? (the time and the place)
-
According to the many references made in this text, the time period should be
during the Victorian days. Especially when he refers to the Rowton Houses. The
reader is told that this trip should last an hour.
-
Most of the story takes place in a train carriage, and once again according to the
in-text references, the story probably takes place in England.
4- Who is / are round character(s) in this story and why?
-
Theodoric is a round character because he undergoes changes. From being real
prude he undresses in front of a lady. He was very shy, almost socially
inadequate due to the education he had from his mother, and throughout the
story, he manages to be with “society” and experience a fairly “normal” activity,
that seemed, at first, really stressful.
5- Who is / are flat character(s) in this story and why?
-
The old lady, like the mouse, is a flat character because she does not undergo any
changes
6- Who, in your opinion, is an antagonist in the story?
- The mouse, because she is the cause of Theodorics predicament.
7- What event allows a rising action in the story?
-
The non-stop biting of the mouse in Theodoric’s pants.
8- When does the turning point of the story occur?
-
When Theodoric can no longer suffer the mouse’s bites and decides to undress
himself.
9- What is ironic in this story?
-
What is very ironic in this story is that the lady, who is considered as an observer
of Theodoric’s uncomfortable situation, is actually blind. He gave himself all this
trouble for nothing, for this lady would have never seen him undressed even if he
had to.
Text Deconstruction
1. Type (genre): short stories, fiction, humour
INTERNAL FEATURES
2. Text components:
Title: The Mouse
Topic: An intruding mouse
Setting
Time: In the days when horses and trains where the locomotion
system.
Place: Mostly in a train carriage.
Characters
Theodoric undergoes an internal conflict about what he should do.
He is the protagonist who is faced with a problem
The mouse is the antagonist.
Antagonists could be a person, place, idea or physical force against the
protagonist.
The lady is a flat character, for she is static and does not undergo any
changes. The mouse is also a flat character.
Theodoric is a round character, for he undergoes some changes.
Point of view: From which point of view does the author tell the
story? Mostly from Theodoric’s point of view.
Narrative structure
Problem, rising action, the turning point, the falling action, the
resolution and the ending.
Text length: fairly short
3. Language: Narrative language, Third person narration.
The narrator only knows and tells all of about one
character, it is a limited omniscient narrator.
Descriptive language.
Advanced English vocabulary.
Use of irony.
Irony – contrast or contradiction of what is expected and
what results. The ending is pretty ironic.
Use of situational irony – occurs when the contrast
between what appears to be and
what actually exists. The lady is
not an observer after all.
What is verbal irony : Verbal irony occurs when a
character or narrator says
one thing but means the opposite.
We could say that Theodoric thinks that the lady is using
verbal irony towards him. This idea is viewable through
this line: “Surely leaving off one small mouse wouldn’t
bring on a chill,” she exclaimed, with a levity that
Theodoric accounted abominable.
EXTERNAL FEATURES
4. Purpose: Like most literary genre, short stories are created to
entertain. Often Saki tries to trick his reader.
5. Audience: For a general audience, maybe not for young children with
a limited vocabulary.
6. Culture: Represents a part of the Victorian culture at the time.
Vocabulary list
Excelsior : adjective Latin . meaning ever upward:
motto of New York State.
Endeavour: formal to try very hard, endeavour to do something
Rowton Houses were a chain of hostels built in London, England by the Victorian
philanthropist Lord Rowton to provide decent accommodation for working men in place
of the squalid lodging houses of the time.
Wanderjahr: 1. a year of travel before settling down to one's vocation: originally a
Custom of European journeymen
2. any lengthy period of travel
Transmigration: the time when the soul passes into another body after death, according
to some religions
To goad :to make someone do something by annoying or encouraging them until they do
it
To fancy : Literary. To think or believe something without being certain.
Ceylon: Until 1972, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was known as
Ceylon
Instalment : One of the parts of a story that appears as a series of parts, especially in a
magazine, newspaper etc: the first instalment of a science fiction trilogy
Bishop Hatto: The myth of the Bishop Hatto represents the punishment of God towards
a selfish bishop. He was invaded and killed by thousands of rats.
Levity : formal lack of respect or seriousness when you are dealing with something
serious [≠ gravity]
Predicament : a difficult or unpleasant situation in which you do not know what to do,
or in which you have to make a difficult choice
To pry : to try to find out details about someone else's private life in an impolite way:
Away from prying eyes : in private, where people cannot see what you are doing
Slumber : Literary, sleep
Porter : someone whose job is to carry people's bags at railway stations, airports etc
Strayed: adjective (only before noun]
1
a stray animal, such as a dog or cat, is lost or has no home
2
accidentally separated from other things of the same kind:
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