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“Questions on the Reading” by Kate Deimling

1) Discuss the theme of butterflies. What do they represent?

2) What does this story tell us about the role soup/gender/usury plays in American society? (Choose one.)

3) Do you agree that the story was written in English? If not, what language do you think it was written in?

4) Without looking, how many characters are there in the story?

5) Must a story have a hero?

6) Was the story published shortly after it was written? Or do you get the feeling the author left it lying in a drawer for a very long time?

7) For what reasons was this story not written by Mark Twain?

8) If the first page of a story is about a woman character who is not being observed by a male gaze, do you think it was written by a woman?

9) “This story is suspended on a tightrope connecting the individual and society.” Agree or disagree?

10) At what age, if any, do you think you will pick this story up and read it again?

11) “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” In what way could this quotation be altered to apply to this story?

12) Did you eat or drink anything while reading this story? Why or why not?

13) In your opinion, why did the author of this story choose to remain anonymous? Do you think she/he will be identified in your lifetime?

14) If you live in a tropical climate, was it hard to imagine the snow and icy roads and icicles in this story?

15) According to U.S. law, is this story still subject to copyright? How do you know?

16) Okay, it’s not the same story, but we just have to ask: did Young Goodman Brown dream the witch-meeting?

17) Is it ironic that the widow loses her eyesight? Or is it just one of those things that happen to people when they get old?

18) Is it a comedy? Is it a tragedy? Explain the difference between the two in your answer.

19) Can this story be compared to the work of Edith Wharton? An auto-repair shop? A nebula? A spool of thread?

20) In what way was the ending a surprise, and in what way was it totally expected?

Kate Deimling is a poet, writer, and French translator. Her work has appeared in I-70 Review, Ellipsis Zine, Waxwing, The Midwest Quarterly, and other magazines. She’s an associate poetry editor for Bracken and a flash fiction reader for Reservoir Road Literary Review. A native New Orleanian, Kate lives in Brooklyn.

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