WRITING, SELF-EVALUATING AND REVISING
13.Free writing. You have five minutes to write down any images, ideas or details that come to you concerning the topic “Magic beasts”. You can choose between the dragon, the gryphon, the unicorn or something you fancy.
14.Writing an interior monologue. With another student list some of his possible after-reading thoughts at this very moment. Then write them down as an unbroken monologue. Compare your mini-stories with those of other students. Who seems to be the most original thinker of the group?
15.Write a draft of a story (120 words) about the most wonderful or miraculous event you have ever witnessed. It should have a personal meaning, be clear in your memory, and be not too private. Here are some useful tips:
· Begin with exactly what happened — events, people, places. Events are the “bones” of your story, its framework.
· Recording events will lead you to people who besides yourself play a part in your experience. What did they look like? What did they say?
· A place may be a key part of your experience — bring your readers there.
· What is the meaning of this experience to you? Did you change in any way or learn anything?
Using the evaluation criteria prepare self-evaluation of your draft and do a bit of revision:
· Add new information and details.
· Take out unnecessary details, examples or weak words. Replace with more precise words and more relevant details.
· Cut repetition and details unrelated to the main idea.
· Rearrange your ideas so that they make more sense.
Now write the final version of your story and be ready to present it in class. You may make use of the following plan.
1) Introduction. Feelings, connected with the experience.
2) Summary of the experience: the event, details, thoughts and feelings
3) Conclusion. Details, thoughts and feelings. Meaning of experience.
THE HUNGARIAN PROFESSOR
You love English and everything connected with it, don’t you? And most probably you dream of visiting some English-speaking countries — to see everything with your own eyes, to hear everything with your own ears… But what if your dream is never realized? How would that affect you? Would you give up or never stop updating your knowledge like one of the characters of this story.
A WORD ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare is an English author, actor, playwright and former politician. He was an MP and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was an instant success. Now he is considered a master story-teller with more than 10 bestselling novels and four short story collections. His novels are acclaimed by both critics and readers worldwide. Yet it is in his short stories that Archer is at his creative best.
1. In small groups, discuss the pleasures of foreign travel. What kind of travel do you prefer and why?
2. Decide whether learning a foreign language and culture go hand in hand. Give your arguments.
3. Discuss the problems a person might face if he or she undertakes the task of translating some great work of literature. Does it mean only conveying the text into another language?
4. Read the first part of the story. Study the way the author introduces the characters of the story.
Coincidences, writers are told (usually by the critics) must be avoided, although in truth the real world is full of incidents that in themselves are unbelievable. Everyone has had an experience that if they wrote about it would appear to others as pure fiction.
The same week that the headlines in the world newspapers read 'Russia invades Afghanistan, America to withdraw from Moscow Olympics' there also appeared a short obituary in The Times for the distinguished Professor of English at the University of Budapest. “A man who was born and died in his native Budapest and whose reputation remains assured by his brilliant translation of the works of Shakespeare into his native Hungarian. Although some linguists consider his Coriolanus immature they universally acknowledge his Hamlet to be a translation of genius.”
Nearly a decade after the Hungarian Revolution I had the chance to participate in a student athletics meeting in Budapest. The competition was scheduled to last for a full week so I felt there would be an opportunity to find out a little about the country. The team flew in to Ferihegy Airport on the Sunday night and we were taken immediately to the Hotel Ifushag. (I learned later that the word meant youth in Hungarian.) Having settled in, most of the team went to bed early as their opening round heats were the following day. Breakfast the next morning comprised of milk, toast and an egg, served in three acts with long intervals between each. Those of us who were running that afternoon skipped lunch for fear that a matinee performance might cause us to miss our events completely.
Two hours before the start of the meeting, we were taken by bus to the Nep stadium and unloaded outside the dressing rooms (I always feel they should be called undressing rooms). We changed into track suits and sat around on benches anxiously waiting to be called. After what seemed to be an interminable time but was in fact only a few minutes, an official appeared and led us out on to the track. As it was the opening day of competition, the stadium was packed. When I had finished my usual warm-up of jogging, sprinting and some light calisthenics, the loudspeaker announced the start of the 100m race in three languages. I stripped off my track suit and ran over to the start. When called, I pressed my spikes against the blocks and waited nervously for the starter's pistol. Ten seconds later the race was over and the only virtue of coming last was that it left me six free days to investigate the Hungarian capital.
Walking around Budapest reminded me of my childhood days in Bristol just after the war, but with one noticeable difference. As well as the bombed-out buildings, there was row upon row of bullet holes in some of the walls. The revolution, although eight years past, was still much in evidence, perhaps because the nationals did not want anyone to forget. The people on the streets had lined faces, stripped of all emotion, and they shuffled rather than walked, leaving the impression of a nation of old men. If you inquired innocently why, they told you there was nothing to hurry for, or to be happy about, although they always seemed to be thoughtful with each other.
On the third day of the games, I returned to the Nep stadium to support a friend of mine who was competing in the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles which was the first event that afternoon. Having a competitor's pass, I could sit virtually anywhere in the half-empty arena. I chose to watch the race from just above the final bend, giving me a good view of the home straight. I sat down on the wooden bench without paying much attention to the people on either side of me. The race began and as my friend hit the bend crossing the seventh hurdle with only three hurdles to cover before the finishing line, I stood and cheered him heartily all the way down the home straight. He managed to come in third, ensuring himself a place in the final the next day. I sat down again and wrote out the detailed result in my programme. I was about to leave, as there were no British competitors in the hammer or the pole vault, when a voice behind me said:
“You are English?”
“Yes,” I replied, turning in the direction from which the question had been put.
An elderly gentleman looked up at me. He wore a three-piece suit that must have been out of date when his father owned it, and even lacked the possible virtue that some day the style might come back into fashion. The leather patches on the elbows left me in no doubt that my questioner was a bachelor for they could only have been sewn on by a man - either that or one had to conclude he had elbows in odd places. The length of his trousers revealed that his father had been two inches taller than he. As for the man himself, he had a few strands of white hair, a walrus moustache, and ruddy cheeks. His tired blue eyes were perpetually half-closed like the shutter of a camera that has just been released. His forehead was so lined that he might have been any age between fifty and seventy. The overall impression was of a cross between a tram inspector and an out-of-work violinist. I sat down for a second time.
“I hope you didn't mind my asking?” he added.
“Of course not,” I said.
“It's just that I have so little opportunity to converse with an Englishman. So when I spot one I always grasp the nettle. Is that the right colloquial expression?”
“Yes,” I said, trying to think how many Hungarian words I knew. Yes, No, Good morning, Goodbye, I am lost, Help.
“You are in the student games?”
“Were, not are,” I said. “I departed somewhat rapidly on Monday.”
“Because you were not rapid enough, perhaps?”
I laughed, again admiring his command of my first language.
“Why is your English so excellent?” I inquired.
“I'm afraid it's a little neglected,” the old man replied. “But they still allow me to teach the subject at the University. I must confess to you that I have absolutely no interest in sport, but these occasions always afford me the opportunity to capture someone like yourself and oil the rusty machine, even if only for a few minutes.” He gave me a tired smile but his eyes were now alight.
5. Go on reading. What can you say about the characters’ mentality? In what way is it different?
“What part of England do you hail from?” For the first time his pronunciation faltered, as 'hail' came out as “heel”.
“Somerset,” I told him.
“Ah,” he said, “perhaps the most beautiful county in England.” I smiled, as most foreigners never seem to travel much beyond Stratford-upon-Avon or Oxford. “To drive across the Mendips,” he continued, “through perpetually green hilly countryside and to stop at Cheddar to see Gough's caves, at Wells to be amused by the black swans ringing the bell on the Cathedral wall, or at Bath to admire the lifestyle of classical Rome, and then perhaps to go over the county border and on to Devon . . Is Devon even more beautiful than Somerset, in your opinion?”
“Never,” said I.
“Perhaps you are a little prejudiced,” he laughed. “Now let me see if I can recall:
“Of the western counties there are seven.
But the most glorious is surely that of Devon. “
Perhaps Hardy, like you, was prejudiced and could think only of his beloved Exmoor, the village of Tiverton and Drake's Plymouth.”
“Which is your favourite county?” I asked.
“The North Riding of Yorkshire has always been underrated, in my opinion,” replied the old man. “When people talk of Yorkshire, I suspect Leeds, Sheffield and Barnsley spring to mind. Coal mining and heavy industry. Visitors should travel and see the dales there; they will find them as different as chalk from cheese. Lincolnshire is too flat and so much of the Midlands must now be spoilt by sprawling towns. The Birminghams of this world hold no appeal for me. But in the end I come down in favour of Worcestershire and Warwickshire, quaint old English villages nestling in the Cotswolds and crowned by Stratford-upon-Avon. How I wish I could have been in England in 1959 while my countrymen were recovering from the scars of revolution. Olivier performing Coriolanus, another man who did not want to show his scars.”
“I saw the performance,” I said. “I went with a school party.”
“Lucky boy. I translated the play into Hungarian at the age of nineteen. Reading over my work again last year made me aware I must repeat the exercise before I die.”
“You have translated other Shakespeare plays?”
“All but three, I have been leaving Hamlet to last, and then I shall return to Coriolanus and start again. As you are a student, am I permitted to ask which university you attend?”
“And your college?”
“Ah. BNC. How wonderful to be a few yards away from the Bodleian, the greatest library in the world. If I had been born in England I should have wanted to spend my days at All Souls, that is just opposite BNC, is it not?”
The professor stopped talking while we watched the next race, the first semi-final of the 1,500 metres. The winner was Anfras Patovich, a Hungarian, and the partisan crowd went wild with delight.
“That's what I call support,” I said.
“Like Manchester United when they have scored the winning goal in the Cup Final. But my fellow countrymen do not cheer because the Hungarian was first,” said the old man.
“No?” I said, somewhat surprised.
“Oh, no, they cheer because he beat the Russian.”
“I hadn't even noticed,” I said.
“There is no reason why you should, but their presence is always in the forefront of our minds and we are rarely given the opportunity to see them beaten in public”
I tried to steer him back to a happier subject. “And before you had been elected to All Souls, which college would you have wanted to attend?”
“As an undergraduate, you mean?”
“Undoubtedly Magdalen is the most beautiful college. It has the distinct advantage of being situated on the River Cherwell; and in any case I confess a weakness for perpendicular architecture and a love of Oscar Wilde.” The conversation was interrupted by the sound of a pistol and we watched the second semi-final of the 1,500 metres, which was won by Orentas of the USSR. The crowd showed its disapproval more obviously this time, clapping in such a way that left hands passed by right without coming into contact. I found myself joining in on the side of the Hungarians. The scene made the old man lapse into a sad silence. The last race of the day was won by Tim Johnston of England and I stood and cheered unashamedly. The Hungarian crowd clapped politely.
I turned to say goodbye to the professor, who had not spoken for some time.
“How long are you staying in Budapest?” he asked.
“The rest of the week. I return to England on Sunday.”
“Could you spare the time to join an old man for dinner one night?”
“I should be delighted.”
“How considerate of you,” he said, and he wrote out his full name and address in capital letters on the back of my programme and returned it to me. “Why don't we say tomorrow at seven? And if you have any old newspapers or magazines do bring them with you,” he said, looking a little sheepish. “And I shall quite understand if you have to change your plans.”
6. Read the story to the end. What impression and feelings does the ending leave?
I spent the next morning looking over St Matthias Church and the ancient fortress, two of the buildings that showed no evidence of the revolution. I then took a short trip down the Danube before spending the afternoon supporting the swimmers at the Olympic pool. At six I left the pool and went back to my hotel. I changed into my team blazer and grey slacks, hoping I looked smart enough for my distinguished host. I locked my door, started towards the lift, and then remembered. I returned to my room to pick up the pile of newspapers and magazines I had collected from the rest of the team. Finding the professor's home was not as easy as I had expected. After meandering around cobbled streets and waving the professor's address at several passers-by, I was finally directed to an old apartment block. I ran up the three flights of the wooden staircase in a few leaps and bounds, wondering how long the climb took the professor every day. I stopped at the door that displayed his number and knocked.
The old man answered immediately, as if he had been standing there, waiting by the door. I noticed that he was wearing the same suit he had had on the previous day.
“I am sorry to be late,” I said.
“No matter, my own students also find me hard to find the first time,” he said, grasping my hand. He paused. “Bad to use the same word twice in the same sentence. “Locate” would have been better, wouldn't it?”
He trotted on ahead of me, not waiting for my reply, a man obviously used to living on his own. He led me down a small, dark corridor into his drawing room. I was shocked by its size. Three sides were covered with indifferent prints and watercolours, depicting English scenes, while the fourth wall was dominated by a large bookcase. I could spot Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Trollope, Hardy, even Waugh and Graham Greene. On the table was a faded copy of the New Statesman. I looked round to see if we were on our own, but there seemed to be no sign of a wife or child either in person or picture, and indeed the table was only set for two.
The old man turned and stared with childish delight at my pile of newspapers and magazines.
“Punch, Time and the Observer, a veritable feast,” he declared gathering them into his arms before placing them lovingly on his bed in the corner of the room.
The professor then opened a bottle of wine and left me to look at the pictures while he prepared the meal. He slipped away into an alcove which was so small that 1 had not realised the room contained a kitchenette. He continued to bombard me with questions about England, many of which I was quite unable to answer.
A few minutes later he stepped back into the room, requesting me to take a seat. “Do be seated,” he said, on reflection. “I do not wish you to remove the seat. I wish you to sit on it.” He put a plate in front of me which had on it a leg of something that might have been a chicken, a piece of salami and a tomato. I felt sad, not because the food was inadequate, but because he believed it to be plentiful.
After dinner, which despite my efforts to eat slowly and hold him in conversation, did not take up much time, the old man made some coffee which tasted bitter and then filled a pipe before we continued our discussion. We talked of Shakespeare and his views on A. L. Rowse, and then he turned to politics.
“Is it true,” the professor asked, “that England will soon have a Labour government?”
“The opinion polls seem to indicate as much,” I said.
“I suppose the British feel that Sir Alec Douglas-Home is not swinging enough for the sixties,” said the professor, now puffing vigorously away at his pipe. He paused and looked up at me through the smoke. “I did not offer you a pipe as I assumed after your premature exit in the first round of the competition you would not be smoking.” I smiled. “But Sir Alec,” he continued, “is a man with long experience in politics, and it's no bad thing for a country to be governed by an experienced gentleman.”
I would have laughed out loud had the same opinion been expressed by my own tutor.
“And what of the Labour leader?” I said, forbearing to mention his name.
“Moulded in the white heat of a technological revolution,” he replied. “I am not so certain. I liked Gaitskell, an intelligent and shrewd man. An untimely death. Attlee, like Sir Alec, was a gendeman. But as for Mr Wilson, I suspect that history will test his mettle - a pun which I had not intended - in that white heat and only then will we discover the truth.”
I could think of no reply.
“I was considering last night after we parted,” the old man continued, “the effect that Suez must have had on a nation which only ten years before had won a world war. The Americans should have backed you. Now we read in retrospect, always the historian's privilege, that at the time Prime Minister Eden was tired and ill. The truth was he didn't get the support from his closest allies when he most needed it.”
“Perhaps we should have supported you in 1956.”
“No, no, it was too late then for the West to shoulder Hungary's problems. Churchill understood that in 1945. He wanted to advance beyond Berlin and to free all the nations that bordered Russia. But the West had had a belly full of war by then and left Stalin to take advantage of that apathy. When Churchill coined the phrase “the Iron Curtain”, he foresaw exactly what was going to happen in the East. Amazing to think that when that great man said, “if the British Empire should last a thousand years”, it was in fact destined to survive for only twenty-five. How I wish he had still been around the corridors of power in 1956.”
“Did the revolution greatly affect your life?”
“I do not complain. It is a privilege to be the Professor of English in a great university. They do not interfere with me in my department and Shakespeare is not yet considered subversive literature.” He paused and took a luxuriant puff at his pipe. “And what will you do, young man, when you leave the university - as you have shown us that you cannot hope to make a living as a runner.”
“I want to be a writer.”
“Then travel, travel, travel,” he said. “You cannot hope to learn everything from books. You must see the world for yourself if you ever hope to paint a picture for others.”
I looked up at the old clock on his mantelpiece only to realise how quickly the time had passed.
“I must leave you, I'm afraid; they expect us all to be back in the hotel by ten.”
“Of course,” he said smiling at the English public school mentality. “I will accompany you to Kossuth Square and then you will be able to see your hotel on the hill.”
As we left the flat, I noticed that he didn't bother to lock the door. Life had left him little to lose. He led me quickly through the myriad of narrow roads that I had found so impossible to navigate earlier in the evening, chatting about this building and that, an endless fund of knowledge about his own country as well as mine. When we reached Kossuth Square he took my hand and held on to it, reluctant to let go, as lonely people often will.
“Thank you for allowing an old man to indulge himself by chattering on about his favourite subject.”
“Thank you for your hospitality,” I said, “and when you are next in Somerset you must come to Lympsham and meet my family.”
“Lympsham? I cannot place it,” he said, looking worried.
“I'm not surprised. The village only has a population of twenty-two.”
“Enough for two cricket teams,” remarked the professor. “A game, I confess, with which I have never come to grips.”
“Don't worry,” I said, “neither have half the English.”
“Ah, but I should like to. What is a gully, a no-ball, a night watchman? The terms have always intrigued me.”
“Then remember to get in touch when you're next in England and I'll take you to Lord's and see if I can teach you something.”
“How kind,” he said, and then he hesitated before adding: “But I don't think we shall meet again.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Well, you see, I have never been outside Hungary in my whole life. When I was young I couldn't afford to, and now I don't imagine that those in authority would allow me to see your beloved England.”
He released my hand, turned and shuffled back into the shadows of the side streets of Budapest.
I read his obituary in The Times once again as well as the headlines about Afghanistan and its effect on the Moscow Olympics.
He was right. We never met again.
7. Answer the following questions.
· The time of the events described in the story — what do you know about it? How would you characterize this period in the world history?
· What do you know about Moscow Olympic Games held that year?
· What is the reason for the Professor’s visiting international sport competitions held in his country? Why?
· Reread the description of the Professor’s lodgings. Does the place in any way characterize his lifestyle? In what way?
· What is ‘a veritable feast’ for the old man? Why? Find the answer in the text.
· How does the Professor come to know so much about Britain and its cultural heritage? What does his profound knowledge imply?
· Why did the Professor choose translation of Shakespeare’s works as his lifelong work?
· Do you think that the Professor managed to achieve self-realisation? Why?
· In what way does the Iron curtain policy affect the main characters’ life and career?
8.Study the list of theremarks given. Find out whom these remarks belong to and decide what exactly the author wanted to say.
- “Coincidences, writers are told(usually by the critics) must be avoided, although in truth the real world is full of incidents that in themselves are unbelievable.”
- “The people on the streets had lined faces, stripped of all emotion …, leaving the impression of a nation of old men.”
- “Reading over my work again last year made me aware I must repeat the exercise before I die.”
- “Punch, Time and the Observer, a veritable feast.”
- “ … but they still allow me to teach the subject at the University … ”
- “… their presence is always in the forefront of our minds … ”
- “You must see the world for yourself if you hope to paint a picture for others.”
9. Find all the words with the help of which the author describes the English Professor. Every little detail matters, doesn’t it? Pay special attention to the clash between his looks and his personality. What do you make of him?
10.“…There was nothing to hurry for, or to be happy about ….” What place does the author depict? What associations come to your mind while reading the description of it?
11.Focus on style. Read the definition of a stylistic device and find its examples in the text.
Ironyis a stylistic device based on simultaneous realization of the meanings: the literal meaning is the opposite of the intended meaning, used in ridicule or humour (e.g. Nice weather, isn't it? [said on a rainy day]). Irony must not be confused with humour, although they have very much in common. Humour always causes laughter. Irony does not create an evidently ludicrous effect.
12.Master storytellers should try hard to finish their story in a masterly way. Read the last lines of the story again and say whether Archer did his creative best here.
He released my hand, turned and shuffled back into the shadows of the side streets of Budapest.
I read his obituary in The Times once again as well as the headlines about Afghanistan and its effect on the Moscow Olympics.
He was right. We never met again.
13.In the text the main character recalls such famous educational establishments like Oxford University and some picturesque corners of England. Make a list of the places and their corresponding descriptions mentioned in the story.
14.Find thenames of the well-known writers mentioned in the story. What do you know about them? What are they known for? Write a mini biography of the author of your choice (15 sentences).
15.Write a 300-word essay describing the spot in the English-speaking world that would be your first choice if you had money for the trip. Be ready to present your story in class.
THE STONE BOY
Have you ever thought about the nature of crime? Is it us or circumstances that predetermine our actions and destiny? Have you ever heard about children committing a crime? If yes, what were the cases?
A WORD ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gina Berriault was an American novelist and short story writer born in California to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. Her father was a freelance writer and Berriault took her inspiration from him, using his stand-up typewriter to write her first stories while still in grammar school. Berriault received several awards and prizes. She had a prolific writing career, which included stories, novels and screenplays. Her writing tended to focus on life in and around San Francisco. Berriault's short story The Stone Boy was adapted by the author as a film.
1. In small groups, discuss the possible reasons for non-premeditated murder cases. Do they always happen by accident?
2. Decide whether committing a crime should always be punished.
3. Discuss the problem of children growing mature. When does a kid become an adult? Does this process proceed gradually or rapidly? What factors does it depend on?
4. Read the first part of the story. Pay attention to the major character’s behaviour. What impression does the kid evoke?
Arnold drew his overalls and ravelling grey sweater over his naked body. In the other narrow bed his brother Eugene went on sleeping, undisturbed by the alarm clock's rusty ring. Arnold, watching his brother sleeping, felt a peculiar dismay; he was nine, six years younger than Eugie, and in their waking hours it was he who was subordinate. To dispel emphatically his uneasy advantage over his sleeping brother, he threw himself on the hump of Eugie's body. “Get up! Get up!” he cried. Arnold felt his brother twist away and saw the blankets lifted in a great wing, and, all in an instant he was lying on his back under the covers with only his face showing, like a baby, and Eugie was sprawled on top of him.
“Whassa matter with you?” asked Eugie in sleepy anger, his face hanging close.
“Get up,” Arnold repeated. “You said you'd pick peas with me.”
Stupidly, Eugie gazed around the room as if to see if morning had come into it yet. Arnold began to laugh derisively, making soft, snorting noises, and was thrown off the bed. He got up from the floor and went down the stairs, the laughter continuing, like hiccups, against his will. But when he opened the staircase door and entered the parlour, he hunched up his shoulders and was quiet because his parents slept in the bedroom downstairs.
Arnold lifted his .22-caliber rifle from the rack on the kitchen wall. It was an old lever-action Winchester that his father had given him because nobody else used it any more. On their way down to the garden he and Eugie would go by the lake, and if there were any ducks on it he'd take a shot at them. Standing on the stool before the cupboard, he searched on the top shelf in the confusion of medicines and ointments for man and beast and found a small yellow box of 22 cartridges. Then he sat down on the stool and began to load his gun.
It was cold in the kitchen so early, but later in the day, when his mother canned the peas, the heat from the wood stove would be almost unbearable. Yesterday she had finished preserving the huckleberries that the family had picked along the mountain, and before that she had canned all the cherries his father had brought from the warehouse in Corinth. Sometimes, on these summer days, Arnold would deliberately come out from the shade where he was playing and make himself as uncomfortable as his mother was in the kitchen by standing in the sun until the sweat ran down his body.
Eugie came clomping down the stairs and into the kitchen, his head drooping with sleepiness. From his perch on the stool Arnold watched Eugie slip on his green knit cap. Eugie didn't really need a cap; he hadn't had a haircut in a long time and his brown curls grew thick and matted, close around his ears and down his neck, tapering there to a small whorl. Eugie passed his left hand through his hair before he set his cap down with his right. The very way he slipped his cap on was an announcement of his status; almost everything he did was a reminder that he was eldest - first he, then Nora, then Arnold - and called attention to how tall he was (almost as tall as his father), how long his legs were, how small he was in the hips, and what a neat dip above his buttocks his thick-soled logger's boots gave him. Arnold never tired of watching Eugie offer silent praise unto himself. He wondered, as he sat enthralled, if when he got to be Eugie's age he would still be undersized and his hair still straight. Eugie eyed the gun. “Don't you know this ain't duck-season?” he asked gruffly, as if he were the sheriff.
“No, I don't know,” Arnold said with a snigger.
5. Now go on reading. How can one characterize Arnold’s actions? What do you think of the child now?
Eugie picked up the tin washtub for the peas, unbolted the door with his free hand and kicked it open. Then, lifting the tub to his head, he went clomping down the back steps. Arnold followed, closing the door behind him.
The sky was faintly grey, almost white. The mountains behind the farm made the sun climb a long way to show itself. Several miles to the south, where the range opened up, hung an orange mist, but the valley in which the farm lay was still cold and colourless. Eugie opened the gate to the yard and the boys passed between the barn and the row of chicken houses, their feet stirring up the carpet of brown feathers dropped by the moulting chickens. They paused before going down the slope to the lake. A fluky morning wind ran among the shocks of wheat that covered the slope. It sent a shimmer northward across the lake gently moving the rushes that formed an island in the centre. Killdeer, their white markings flashing, skimmed the water, crying their shrill, sweet cry. And there at the south end of the lake were four wild ducks, swimming out from the willows into open water. Arnold followed Eugie down the slope, stealing, as his brother did, from one shock of wheat to another. Eugie paused before climbing through the wire fence that divided the wheatfield from the marshy pasture around the lake. They were screened from the ducks by the willows along the lake's edge.
“If you hit your duck, you want me to go in after it?” Eugie said.
“If you want,” Arnold said.
Eugie lowered his eyelids, leaving slits of mocking blue. “You'd drown “fore you got to it, them legs of yours are so puny,” he said. He shoved the tub under the fence and, pressing down the centre wire, climbed through into the pasture.
Arnold pressed down the bottom wire, thrust a leg through and leaned forward to bring the other leg after. His rifle caught on the wire and he jerked at it. The air was rocked by the sound of the shot. Feeling foolish, he lifted his face, baring it to an expected shower of derision from his brother. But Eugie did not turn around. Instead, from his crouching position, he fell to his knees and then pitched forward onto his face. The ducks rose up crying from the lake, cleared the mountain background and beat away northward across the pale sky. Arnold squatted beside bis brother. Eugie seemed to be climbing the earth, as if the earth ran up and down, and when he found he couldn't scale it he lay still.
Then Arnold saw it, under the tendril of hair at the nape of the neck - a slow rising of bright blood. It had an obnoxious movement, like that of a parasite.
“Hey, Eugie,” he said again. He was feeling the same discomfort he had felt when he had watched Eugie sleeping; his brother didn't know that he was lying face down in the pasture. Again he said, “Hey, Eugie,” an anxious nudge in his voice. But Eugie was as still as the morning about them.
Arnold set his rifle on the ground and stood up. He picked up the tub and, dragging it behind him, walked along by the willows to the garden fence and climbed through. He went down on his knees among the tangled vines. The pods were cold with the night, but his hands were strange to him, and not until some time had passed did he realize that the pods were numbing his fingers. He picked from the top of the vine first, then lifted the vine to look underneath for pods and then moved on to the next. It was a warmth on his back, like a large hand laid firmly there, that made him raise his head. Way up the slope the grey farmhouse was struck by the sun. While his head had been bent the land had grown bright around him. When he got up his legs were so stiff that he had to go down on his knees again to ease the pain. Then, walking sideways, he dragged the tub, half full of peas, up the slope.
The kitchen was warm now; a fire was roaring in the stove with a closed-up, rushing sound. His mother was spooning eggs from a pot of boiling water and putting them into a bowl. Her short brown hair was uncombed and fell forward across her eyes as she bent her head. Nora was lifting a frying pan full of trout from the stove, holding the handle with a dish towel. His father had just come in from bringing the cows from the north pasture to the barn, and was sitting on the stool unbuttoning his red plaid Mackinaw.
“Did you boys fill the tub?” his mother asked.
“They ought of by now,” his father said. “They went out of the house an hour ago. Eugie woke me up comin' down-stairs. I heard you shootin' - did you get a duck?”
“No,” Arnold said. They would want to know why Eugie wasn't coming in for breakfast, he thought. “Eugie's dead,” he told them.
They stared at him. The pitch cracked in the stove.
“You kids playin' a joke?” his father asked.
“Where's Eugene?” his mother asked scoldingly. She wanted, Arnold knew, to see his eyes, and when he had glanced at her she put the bowl and spoon down on the stove and walked past him. His father stood up and went out the door after her. Nora followed them with little skipping steps, as if afraid to be left alone.
Arnold went into the barn, down along the foddering passage past the cows waiting to be milked, and climbed into the loft. After a few minutes he heard a terrifying sound coming toward the house. His parents and Nora were returning from the willows, and sounds sharp as knives were rising from his mother's breast and carrying over the sloping fields. In a short while he heard his father go down the back steps, slam the car door and drive away. Arnold lay still as a fugitive, listening to the cows eating close by. If his parents never called him, he thought, he would stay up in the loft forever, out of the way. In the night he would sneak down for a drink of water from the faucet over the trough and for whatever food they left for him by the barn.
6. Read the story to the end. What would you do if you were Arnold’s parents?
The rattle of his father's car as it turned down the lane recalled him to the present. He heard voices of his Uncle Andy and Aunt Alice as they and his father went past the barn to the lake. He could feel the morning growing heavier with sun. Someone, probably Nora, had let the chickens out of their coops and they were cackling in the yard. After a while another car turned down the road off the highway. The car drew to a stop and he heard the voices of strange men. The men also went past the barn and down to the lake. The undertakers, whom his father must have phoned from Uncle Andy's house, had arrived from Corinth. Then he heard everybody come back and heard the car turn around and leave.
“Arnold!” It was his father calling from the yard. He climbed down the ladder and went out into the sun, picking wisps of hay from his overalls.
Corinth, nine miles away, was the county seat. Arnold sat in the front seat of the old Ford between his father, who was driving, and Uncle Andy; no one spoke. Uncle Andy was his mother's brother, and he had been fond of Eugie because Eugie had resembled him. Andy had taken Eugie hunting and had given him a knife and a lot of things, and now Andy, his eyes narrowed, sat tall and stiff beside Arnold.
Arnold's father parked the car before the courthouse. It was a two-storey brick building with a lamp on each side of the bottom step. They went up the wide stone steps, Arnold and his father going first, and entered the darkly panelled hallway. The shirt-sleeved man in the sheriffs office said that the sheriff was at Carlson's Parlour examining the Curwing boy.
Andy went off to get the sheriff while Arnold and his father waited on a bench in the corridor. Arnold felt his father watching him, and he lifted his eyes with painful casualness to the announcement, on the opposite wall, of the Corinth County Annual Rodeo, and then to the clock with its loudly clucking pendulum. After he had come down from the loft his father and Uncle Andy had stood in the yard with him and asked him to tell them everything, and he had explained to them how the gun had caught on the wire. But when they had asked him why he hadn't run back to the house to tell his parents, he had had no answer - all he could say was that he had gone down into the garden to pick the peas. His father had stared at him in a pale, puzzled way, and it was then that he had felt his father and the others set their cold, turbulent silence against him. Arnold shifted on the bench, his only feeling a small one of compunction imposed by his father's eyes.
At a quarter past nine Andy and the sheriff came in. They all went into the sheriffs private office, and Arnold was sent forward to sit in the chair by the sheriffs desk; his father and Andy sat down on the bench against the wall. The sheriff lumped down into his swivel chair and swung toward Arnold. He was an old man with white hair like wheat stubble. His restless green eyes made him seem not to be in his office but to be hurrying and bobbing around somewhere else.
“What did you say your name was?” the sheriff asked.
“Arnold,” he replied; but he could not remember telling the sheriff his name before.
“What were you doing with a 22, Arnold?”
“It's mine,” he said.
“Okay. What were you going to shoot?”
“Some ducks,” he replied.
“Out of season?” He nodded.
“That's bad,” said the sheriff. “Were you and your brother good friends?”
What did he mean - good friends? Eugie was his brother. That was different from a friend, Arnold thought. A best friend was your own age, but Eugie was almost a man. Eugie had a way of looking at him slyly and mockingly and yet confidentially, that had summed up how they both felt about being brothers. Arnold had wanted to be with Eugie more than with anybody else but he couldn't say they had been good friends.
“Did they ever quarrel?” the sheriff asked his father.
“Not that I know,” his father replied. “It seemed to me that Arnold cared a lot for Eugie.”
“Did you?” the sheriff asked Arnold.
If it seemed so to his father, then it was so. Arnold nodded.
“Were you mad at him this morning?”
“How did you happen to shoot him?” “We was crawlin' through the fence.” “Yes?”
“An” the gun got caught on the wire.”
“Seems the hammer must of caught,” his father put in.
“All right, that's what happened,” said the sheriff. “But what I want you to tell me is this. Why didn't you go back to the house and tell your father right away? Why did you go and pick peas for an hour?”
Arnold gazed over his shoulder at his father, expecting his father to have an answer for this also. But his father's eyes, larger and even lighter blue than usual, were fixed upon him curiously. Arnold picked at a callus in his right palm. It seemed odd now that he had not run back to the house and wakened his father, but he could not remember why he had not. They were all waiting for him to answer.
“I came down to pick peas,” he said.
“Didn't you think,” asked the sheriff, stepping carefully from word to word, “that it was more important for you to go tell your parents what had happened?”
“The sun was gonna come up,” Arnold said.
“What's that got to do with it?”
“It's better to pick peas while they're cool.”
The sheriff swung away from him, laid both hands flat on his desk. “Well, all I can say is,” he said across to Arnold's father and Uncle Andy, “he's either a moron or he's so reasonable that he's way ahead of us.' He gave a challenging snort. 'It's come to my notice that the most reasonable guys are mean ones. They don't feel nothing.”
For a moment the three men sat still. Then the sheriff lifted his hand like a man taking an oath. “Take him home,” he said.
Andy uncrossed his legs. “You don't want him?”
“Not now,” replied the sheriff. “Maybe in a few years.”
Arnold's father stood up. He held his hat against his chest. “The gun ain't his no more,” he said wanly.
Arnold went first through the hallway, hearing behind him the heels of his father and Uncle Andy striking the floor boards. He went down the steps ahead of them and climbed into the back seat of the car. Andy paused as he was getting into the front seat and gazed back at Arnold, and Arnold saw that his uncle's eyes had absorbed the knowingness from the sheriffs eyes. Andy and his father and the sheriff had discovered what made him go down into the garden. It was because he was cruel, the sheriff had said, and didn't care about his brother. Was that the reason? Arnold lowered his eyelids meekly against his uncle's stare.
The rest of the day he did his tasks around the farm, keeping apart from the family. At evening, when he saw his father stomp tiredly into the house, Arnold did not put down his hammer and leave the chicken coop he was repairing. He was afraid that they did not want him to eat supper with them. But in a few minutes another fear that they would go to the trouble of calling him and that he would be made conspicuous by his tardiness made him follow his father into the house. As he went through the kitchen he saw the jars of peas standing in rows on the workbench, a reproach to him.
No one spoke at supper, and his mother, who sat next to him, leaned her head in her hand all through the meal, curving her fingers over her eyes so as not to see him. They were finishing their small, silent supper when the visitors began to arrive, knocking hard on the back door. The men were coming from their farms now that it was growing dark and they could not work any more.
Old Man Matthews, grey and stocky, came first, with his two sons, Orion, the elder, and Clint, who was Eugie's age. As the callers entered the parlour, where the family ate, Arnold sat down in a rocking chair. Even as he had been undecided before supper whether to remain outside or take his place at the table, he now thought that he should go upstairs, and yet he stayed to avoid being conspicuous by his absence. If he stayed, he thought, as he always stayed and listened when visitors came, they would see that he was only Arnold and not the person the sheriff thought he was. He sat with his arms crossed and his hands tucked into his armpits and did not lift his eyes.
The Matthews men had hardly settled down around the table, after Arnold's mother and Nora had cleared away the dishes, when another car rattled down the road and someone else rapped on the back door. This time it was Sullivan, a spare and sandy man, so nimble of gesture and expression that Arnold had never been able to catch more than a few of his meanings. Sullivan, in dusty jeans, sat down in the other rocker, shot out his skinny legs and began to talk in his fast way, recalling everything that Eugene had ever said to him. The other men interrupted to tell of occasions they remembered, and after a time Clint's young voice, hoarse like Eugene's had been, broke in to tell about the time Eugene had beat him in a wrestling match.
Out in the kitchen the voices of Orion's wife and of Mrs Sullivan mingled with Nora's voice but not, Arnold noticed, his mother's. Then dry little Mr Cram came, leaving large Mrs Cram in the kitchen, and there was no chair left for Mr Cram to sit in. Noone asked Arnold to get up and he was unable to rise. He knew that the story had got around to them during the day about how he had gone and picked peas after he had shot his brother, and he knew that although they were talking only about Eugie they were thinking about him and if he got up, if he moved even his foot, they would all be alerted. Then Uncle Andy arrived and leaned his tall, lanky body against the doorjamb and there were two men standing.
Presently Arnold was aware that the talk had stopped. He knew without looking up that the men were watching him.
“Not a tear in his eye,” said Andy, and Arnold knew that it was his uncle who had gestured the men to attention.
“He don't give a hoot, is that how it goes?” asked Sullivan, trippingly.
“He's a reasonable fellow,” Andy explained. “That's what the sheriff said. It's us who ain't reasonable. If we'd of shot our brother, we'd of come runnin' back to the house, cryin' like a baby. Well, we'd of been unreasonable. What would of been the use of actin' like that? If your brother is shot dead, he's shot dead. What's the use of gettin' emotional about it? The thing to do is go down to the garden and pick peas. Am I right?”
The men around the room shifted their heavy, satisfying weight of unreasonableness.
Matthews' son Orion said: “If I'd of done what he done, Pa would've hung my pelt by the side of that big coyote's in the barn.”
Arnold sat in the rocker until the last man had filed out. While his family was out in the kitchen bidding the callers good-night and the cars were driving away down the dirt lane to the highway, he picked up one of the kerosene lamps and slipped quickly up the stairs. In his room he undressed by lamplight, although he and Eugie had always undressed in the dark, and not until he was lying in his bed did he blow out the flame. He felt nothing, not any grief. There was only the same immense silence and crawling inside of him; it was the way the house and fields felt under a merciless sun. He awoke suddenly. He knew that his father was out in the yard, closing the doors of the chicken houses so that the chickens could not roam out too early and fall prey to the coyotes that came down from the mountains at daybreak. The sound that had wakened him was the step of his father as he got up from the rocker and went down the back steps. And he knew that his mother was awake in bed.
Throwing off the covers, he rose swiftly, went down the stairs and across the dark parlour to his parents' room. He rapped on the door.
From the closed room her voice rose to him, a seeking and retreating voice. “Yes?”
“Mother?” he asked insistently. He had expected her to realize that he wanted to go down on his knees by her bed and tell her that Eugie was dead. She did not know it yet, nobody knew it, and yet she was sitting up in bed, waiting to be told, waiting for him to confirm her dread. He had expected her to tell him to come in, to allow him to dig his head into her blankets and tell her about the terror he had felt when he had knelt beside Eugie. He had come to clasp her in his arms and, in his terror, to pommel her breasts with his head. He put his hand upon the knob.
“Go back to bed, Arnold,” she called sharply. But he waited.
“Go back! Is night when you get afraid?”
At first he did not understand. Then, silently, he left the door and for a stricken moment stood by the rocker. Outside everything was still. The fences, the shocks of wheat seen through the window before him were so still it was as if they moved and breathed in the daytime and had fallen silent with the lateness of the hour. It was a silence that seemed to observe his father, a figure moving alone around the yard, his lantern casting a circle of light by his feet. In a few minutes his father would enter the dark house, the lantern still lighting his way. Arnold was suddenly aware that he was naked. He had thrown off his blankets and come down the stairs to tell his mother how he felt about Eugie, but she had refused to listen to him and his nakedness had become unpardonable. At once he went back up the stairs, fleeing from his father's lantern.
At breakfast he kept his eyelids lowered as if to deny the humiliating night. Nora, sitting at his left, did not pass the pitcher of milk to him and he did not ask for it. He would never again, he vowed, ask them for anything, and he ate his fried eggs and potatoes only because everybody ate meals - the cattle ate, and the cats: it was customary for everybody to eat.
“Nora, you gonna keep that pitcher for yourself?” his father asked.
Nora lowered her head unsurely.
“Pass it on to Arnold,” his father said.
Nora put her hands in her lap. His father picked up the metal pitcher and set it down at Arnold's plate. Arnold, pretending to be deaf to the discord, did not glance up but relief rained over his shoulders at the thought that his parents recognized him again. They must have lain awake after his father had come in from the yard: had they realized together why he had come down stairs and knocked at their door?
“Bessie's missin' this morning,” his father called out to his mother, who had gone into the kitchen. “She went up the mountain last night and had her calf, most likely. Somebody's got to go up and find her “fore the coyotes get the calf.”
That had been Eugie's job, Arnold thought. Eugie would climb the cattle trails in search of a newborn calf and come down the mountain carrying the calf across his back, with the cow running down along behind him, mooing in alarm.
Arnold ate the few more forkfuls of his breakfast, put his hands on the edge of the table and pushed back his chair. If he went for the calf he'd be away from the farm all morning. He could switch the cow down the mountain slowly, and the calf would run along at its mother's side. When he passed through the kitchen his mother was setting a kettle of water on the stove. “Where you going?” she asked awkwardly.
“Up to get the calf,” he replied, averting his face. “Arnold?”
At the door he paused reluctantly, bis back to her, knowing that she was seeking him out, as his father was doing, and he called upon his pride to protect him from them. “Was you knocking at my door last night?”
He looked over his shoulder at her, his eyes narrow and dry.
“What'd you want?” she asked humbly.
“I didn't want nothing,” he said flatly. Then he went out the door and down the back steps, his legs trembling from the fright his answer gave him.
7. Answer the following questions.
· Who — Arnold or his brother Eugie — plays the first violin in Arnold’s family? How does Arnold feel about that?
· Every child sooner or later starts thinking about his/her future adult life. What are Arnold’s thoughts on the matter?
· The accident by the lake — was it really an accident? Give your reasons.
· Does Eugie’s death affect Arnold? In what way? When and where do we feel that?
· Why, in your opinion, doesn’t Arnold cry for help right after the shooting? If you were in his shoes, what would you do?
· What was the adults’ general reaction to Arnold’s actions?
· What does the sheriff want to say describing Arnold as ‘a reasonable fellow’? Does this characterization speak in his favour?
· How do Arnold’s parents accept the death of one son and the actions of the other? Remember Arnold’s visit to his parents’ room the night after the accident. What does he have in mind? And why does his nakedness suddenly seem ‘unpardonable’ to him?
· Does anyone’s opinion mean anything for the boy? If yes, whose opinion is it?
8.Find all the words with the help of which the author describes Arnold’s state just after Eugie’s death. What dominated his thoughts at that moment? Why, do you think?
9.Let us study Arnold’s personality taking into account the characters’ remarks. Find out whom these remarks belong to and what is this or that character’s attitude towards the boy.
- “You’d drown ‘fore you got to it, them legs of yours are so puny…”
- “It seemed that Arnold cared a lot for Eugie…”
- “It’s better to pick peas while they’re cool.”
- “It’s come to my notice that the most reasonable guys are mean ones. They don’t feel nothing.”
- “The gun ain’t his no more …”
- “He don’t give a hoot, is that how it goes?”
- “Go back! Is night when you get afraid?”
- “I didn’t want nothing.”
10.Every family, every home has its own atmosphere — either one of mutual respect, or love, fondness, etc. What is there in the air of Arnold’s home? Study the way the author describes it. Find the examples necessary in the text.
11.Let us focus on style. Read the definition of a stylistic device.
A symbol is an object, animate or inanimate, which represents or stands for something else. A literary symbol combines an image with a concept.
The gun has often been considered one of the symbols of American lifestyle. What stands behind this symbol? Share your ideas with the groupmates.
12.Psychiatrists say children’s psycho is flexible and rehabilitative. In your opinion, is it the case with Arnold? Or the consequences of the things he hasn’t done haunt him for the rest of his life? In 15-20 sentences try to ‘draw’ Arnold’s portrait in 10 years after the accident.
13.Clustering. Transfer this boxed subject onto your notebook page. Write related ideas, box them and connect them with lines to your subject and to each other.
Swap your cluster diagram with your desk partner and point out the most interesting issues.
14.Have you ever heard aboutthe so-called“Oedipus complex”? Try to decide whether it has any place within the boy’s soul. And if it does, what kind of future is waiting before him? Give your reasons on the subject.
15.Remember your being a child. What faults did you commit?Write a 300-word essay describing the most “terrible” thing you’ve done as a kid. Be ready to present your story in class.
TOM EDISON`S SHAGGY DOG
Kurt Vonnegut is not altogether a science-fiction writer, though he does create other worlds that can cast a harsh light on ours. He is something of a humorist. Here, among other things, we find out how not to be boring about' a bore. You, of course, will have to see what happens with the intelligence analyser, and if you do not get the point about the shaggy dog, then ask around ... why spoil it for you now?
A WORD ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was an American novelist who wrote works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle. He was known for his humanist beliefs. Although many of his novels involved science fiction themes, they were widely read and reviewed outside the field. In much of his work, Vonnegut's own voice is apparent, often filtered through the character of science fiction author Kilgore Trout, characterized by wild leaps of imagination and a deep cynicism, tempered by humanism.
1. In small groups, share some memories of your not-so-distant past. Talk about your childhood dreams and fears and problems. But remember — it must not be boring to listen to you!
2. Decide whether it’s wiser in everyday life to be a lenient listener rather than an intolerable talker. What category do you belong to?
3. Discuss the problem authenticity of many of the ‘autobiographical’ stories published today. Do you honestly believe that people are always telling the truth when writing about great figures of the past or the events they were involved in?
4. Read the story and decide whether the stranger chooses the best possible way to silence the all-too-talkative Harold Bullard.
Two old men sat on a park bench one morning in the sunshine of Tampa, Florida - one trying doggedly to read a book he was plainly enjoying while the other, Harold K. Bullard, told him the story of his life in the full, round, head tones of a public address system. At their feet lay Bullard's Labrador retriever, who further tormented the aged listener by probing his ankles with a large, wet nose.