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Дулалаева И.Ю.

Учебно-методические материалы к сборнику избранных рассказов Джона Чивера

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Елабуга, ЕГПУ

Учебно-методические материалы к сборнику избранных рассказов Джона Чивера. Пособие направлено на пополнение словарного запаса студентов, а также умения понимать и обсуждать прочитанное.

Frere Jacques”

I.Read the story.

II.Learn the following words:

hurricane, bundle, swindle, hostile, defenseless, hornet, gull, cradle, reassure, confidence, crron, estrangement.

III.Illustrate the usage and meaning of the following word combinations:

  • to distinguish smth from smth

  • a forwarding address

  • facetious

  • to have the time of one’s life

  • to be short of

  • to be out of smb’s reach

IV.Ask 15 questions to cover the contents of the story. Make a gist of the story.

V.Find words which are constantly being repeated throughout the whole story. What are they? How do these words help to create the atmosphere of the story? Is the atmosphere tragic? What helps you feel that?

VI.Answer the following questions:

  1. How does the author call his protagonists? Do they have names? Why don’t they?

  2. Why does the bundle of fresh laundry have a name?

  3. How does the man behave?

  4. Why does the woman sing a song “Frere Jacques”?

  5. What is the weather like?

  6. What is the conflict in the story?

  7. What does the woman long for?

  8. Does the man support her in her longing?

  9. What is the point of the story?

VII.Retell the story and express your opinion of the events that took place and the way the author manages to create the armosphere and show the feelings of his characters.

I’m going to Asia”

I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian for the following words and word combinations and illustrate their usage:

  • to admire, admirable

  • fiancee

  • new broadcast

  • to hold smb’s interest

  • ingenuous

  • to be in the first draft

  • to take smth hard /easy

  • to starve

  • a sissy

  • to giggle

  • to be through with smth

Transcribe the ubderlined words.

III.Answer the following questions:

  1. How many people did the Towle family consist of? Who and what were they?

  2. Where were all of them that evening?

  3. What was the topic of their conversation?

  4. What did you know about Bill and Carole?

  5. What was Freddy interested in?

  6. What disturbed old Mrs Towle during the whole evening? What was she busy with?

  7. What contribution did the Towles make to the English speaking Union and why?

  8. Why was Freddy displeased when Mrs Towle suggested that both her sons should marry?

  9. What was Mr Towle’s only reply throughout the whole story?

  10. Why was Towle going to remodel their old barn?

  11. Why is the story called “I’m going to Asia”? What are the rules of the game?

  12. Do you think that the family was friendly? What united the family? Motivate your answer.

IV.Think of the idea of the story. What is the author message to the reader?

V.Retell the story.

The Pleasure of Solitude”

I.Read the Story.

II.Look up the words in the dictionary, memorize them and illustrate their usage:

slum, squalor, encounter, suffer from, (un)merciful with, hardship, to put money by, to attach significance to smth, tenant, purse, to feel at ease, to be missing, in the back of one’s mind, to threaten, to come down with a cold, desperate, to move from place to place, to engage a place.


  1. Describe the way Ellen Goodrick led her life.

  2. Describe the boys’ appearance, behaviour and character.

  3. Do you think that Ellen was right when at their final meeting she struck the boys with an unmbrella? What made her do such a thing?

IV.Comment on the title of the story.

V.Retell the story.

The Sutton Place Story”

I.Read the story.

II.Look up the words in a dictionary, learn them and illustrate their usage by examples from the story:

adults, nursery, elaborate, avaricious, vulgar, innocence, a sleep-in nurse, ignorant, amiable, enchanting, frailty, tacitum, succinct, obediently, frequently, conventional, unsavory, obsequious, exhilarate, gragrant, suffocate, vigorously, perilous, feeble, furtively, imprudence, hazards, vulnerable, abandi=on, squalid, tenement.

III.Explain the meaning, use in sentences of your own:

  • to have a hangover

  • to understand the evil importance of appearances

  • to be taciturn about smth

  • to share a secret

  • with one’s hands folded

  • feel possessive towards smb, smth

  • to lack the sense of security

  • to have a date

  • to beat fiercely

  • to slam the door open

  • to avert one’s eyes from


  1. Describe Deborah Tennyson.

  2. Describe her parents. What life did they lead?

  3. Describe Deborah’s nurse. Was she a proper person to look after the child?

  4. Describe Renee Hall. What attracted deborah to her?

  5. Why do you think Deborah was last? How did it happen?

  6. Give the gist of her parents’ scouring for Deborah.

  7. Why do you think Debarah didn’t say a word about her whereabout in the city?

  8. What is the message of the story?

V.Retell the story.

The Superintendent”

I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian and illustrate the usage of the following words and word-combinations:

  • to keep an eye on smb

  • to cjange for the worse/better

  • to move out, up

  • to be content with

  • to face smth

  • urgent

  • to accept an invitation

  • to take (great) pains at doing smth

  • to refrain from

  • out of fact

  • to lay eyes on

  • conspicuous

  • to complain about, of

  • to lose one’s temper

  • to carry the burden on one’s shoulders

  • to interfere with

  • in a mess

  • to give smb one’s best regards

  • to be (un)conscious of

  • to scatter smth

  • to disguise, disguising

  • to excite smb’s curiosity

  • to add up to nothing


  1. Characterize Mr. Chester Coolidge. What was his occupation? Was it of great responsibility? What were his duties? What happened that day? was he efficient at work? What do you make oh him?

  2. Describe Mrs. Coolidge. What kinf of woman was she? Was her marriage a happy one? What were Mr. and Mrs.Coolidge’s relations like?

  3. Characterize the tenants:

  • Mrs. Bestwick and her husband;

  • Mrs. Negus and her husband;

What happened to the Bestwick’s? Why did they have to move out? Why was it so important for Mrs. Negus to get her things up into 9-E apartment? Was there any conflict between the women-tenants of 9-E and 1-A apartments?

  1. Who was Katie Shay? Why did Mrs. Coolidge take her for her mistress? What was Katie’s hobby? Why do you think she didn’t allow the workman to feed those wild pigeons?

  2. What unites all those separate episodes into a story? Why did Mr.Coolidge, the Superintendent, think that all the tenants who had their moving day and Katie Shay “added up to nothing”?

  3. What is the idea of the story?

IV.Retell the story on Mr.Coolidge’s behalf.

The Day the Big Fell into the Well”

I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian, illustrate the meaning and usage of the following words and word combinations, learn them.

fain, pen, shed, to upset, hardware, allowance, rapport, to disgust, to graduate from, misgiving, ingenuous, to impart, arduous, to go on a diet, to have smth at heart, to take pride in, freshman, sophoman, to clear one’s throat, cupidity, to frustrate, desperately, to ruin, to betray, pike, to expell, celebrity, to feel superrior to, corpulence, to have trouble in doing smth, to be perplexed, to overlook convention, to borrow money from, to get on with, to be brought up, to mulch, to prune, rite, trifling, in a raffle, on smb’s part, to make a living, easy-going, surreptitiously, pail, bucket, conjecture, venture, courageous, to take advantage of gasoline rationing, shartages, to device comfort from, to have faith in, malevolence, truce, meagre, reconciliation, ridiculous, garrulous, abyss, to do well, exhilarate, enduring, secure.

III.Answer the following questions:

  1. How many members did the Nudd family consist of?

  2. How did they usually spend their summer?

  3. Who visited them often?

  4. What was particular about the summer the pig fell into the well? What happened that day?

  5. Why does the author compare the recital of the day with a sextet and the narrator with singers?

  6. Why did with every passing year the story change?

  7. What has happened in those years?

  8. Why did the story, recalled and told so many times exhilarate the family and make them feel that all was well?

IV.Retell the story.

The Counry Husband”

Part I. (pp.139-160 “... Mr. Weed...”)

I.Read the first part of the story.

II.Illustrate the meaning of the following words and word combinations by the examples from the story:

  • to run/be into/in heavy weather

  • painkiller

  • a porthole, a port

  • to make an emergency landing

  • to crash

  • to be absorbed in

  • to accuse smb of smth

  • to gleam with mischief

  • to be gregarious

  • to be insatiable

  • to pass through the ordeal

  • to offer privacy, comfort

  • to confuse smth with smth

  • a psychiatrist

  • to collapse one’s happiness

  • clandestine (adj), surreptitious

  • to stun smb

II.Make a plan of this part of the story.

IV.Describe the characters and the events they participated in:

  • Mr Francis Weed;

  • Mrs Julia Weed;

  • The Weeds’ children;

  • Jupiter;

  • the Farquarsons’ new maid;

  • Miss Anne Murchison;

  • Mrs Wrightson;

V.Answer the following questions:

  1. What life did the inhabitants of Shady Hill lead?

  2. What were their customs and habits? Don’t forget the Weeds’ neighbours. Why wasn’t Francis going to tell anybody about the public chastisement of the Farquarsons’ new maid?

  3. Why do you think Francis fell in love with a new sitter?

  4. Why was he so pleased with himself when he treated Mrs Wrighson the way he did?

  5. What was he going to do to win Anne Murcjison’s heart? Do you think that he would he brave enough to do that?

  6. In what way do you think the story will end?

VI.Retell this part of the story according to your plan?

The Country Husband”

Part II (pp.160-179)

I.Read the story up to the end.

II.Give the Russian and illustrate the meaning of the following words and word-combinations:

queer, to choke, a dead end, to smell of, tryst, to make tryst, to hold, heep tryst, to break tryst, an abyss, to meet smth head -on, to do on purpose, to be red with embarrassment, an iniquity, a train of thought, to slap smb/s clothes, find consolation in.

III.Make a plan of this part of the story.

IV.Answer the following questions.

  1. Why did Francis give Gertrude a quarter?

  2. Why was Francis overexcited at the party the day he kissed Anne Murchison? What scheme did he invent?

  3. Why wasn’t his plan put into execution?

  4. Why did Francis write a letter to Anne confessing his love to her, but never send it?

  5. Who did Ann turn out to be engaged to? What did Francis think of him? What were the circumstances under he met the boy?

  6. What did Claydon Thomas think of Shady Hill? Wsa he right?

  7. Why did Francis and Julia squabble? Why was Julia going to leave her husband? Why did she change her mind on a sudden?

  8. Why did Francis begin to doubt his good sense? What provoked him to suspect himself of being incapable to distinguish between reality and dream? (see p.173; episode in the train).

  9. What made Francis lie to Trace Bearden that Clayton Thomas was a thief? How can account for his lie?

  10. Why did he decide to consult a psychiatrist? What was he stunned with at the doctor’s? Why were his clothes slapped by the policeman?

  11. Do you think it’s a proper case to a psychiatrist when one is in love?

  12. What did the psychiatrist prescribe him?

  13. How were things going on in Shady Hill then? What do you think the closing sentence of the story presupposes?

  14. What do you think of the people living in Shady Hill?

V.Retell this part of the story, trying to touch on the questions given.

The Wrysons”

I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian and illustrate the meaning and usage of the following words and word combinations:

acute, an old people’s rest home, to be confined to, upzoning, rectitude, to keep up the appearance, to be critical of, to be stiff, to farge, odd, to be centred on, hapless, marrow, to reveal smth, collapse, to abandon, to keep body and soul together, keen, adolescence, vanish, to resist the temptation, to take precautions, to break one’s hip, convalescence, to contract pneumonia, a will, to be in probate, to burn smth to a cinder.

III.Explain themeaning of the following:

  1. upzoning

  2. Mrs Irene Wryson’s “oddity”

  3. Donald Wryson’s oddity

  4. The first sentence of a new paragraph on p.187 “... we can dispatch them brightly enough...”

IV.Make a plan of the story.

V.Retell the story according to your plan. make use of the above-given words and word combinations.

VI.Answer the following questions:

  1. What did the Wrysons dread most of all?

  2. What were their civic activities confined to?

  3. What kind of people were the Wrysons? Does the author give their direct characteristics?

  4. Describe Irene’s dream.

  5. Speak of Donald’s childhood. Why did he like to bake?

  6. What has he usually ever since his adolescence to overcome a depression?

  7. What prevented both the spouses from confessing in their oddities?

  8. What might happen to the Wrysons? Why did the author give up the idea of “dispatching” them?

  9. How did Irene discover Donald’s secret?

  10. Did Donald show any interest in the hydrogen bomb which Irene mantioned?

  11. What held them together? Why were they noe interested in the inner world of each other?

  12. What does the figure of the intruder with his beard and his book at the garden-gate symbolize?

The Scarlet Moving Van”

I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian and illustrate the meaning and usage of the following words and word combinations:

at dusk, in the twilight, to disquise, to drop out of the conversation, to slap in the face, to shout at, to win respect, to put vitality into coversation, way ward, outrageous, to misbehave, a chadelier, to fall from grace, an upheaval, a crutch, a hideous melodrama, to approach the climax, tempting, to resis the temptation, crippled, feel abuse, to die of hunger and thirst, cunning, sly, a windshield wiper, the headlights, to squeeze through, to confirm smb/s guilt, a vindictive swirt of a blizzard.

III.Explain what is meant by:

  • an unicorporated town

  • all-america

  • Gee-Gee

  • to be in hot water

IV.Answer the following questions:

  1. What was the town of V-like?

  2. What was the difference between the towns V-and Y -?

  3. Why did Peaches and Gee-Gee have to move from place to place?

  4. What was Gee-Gee in his youth?

  5. Why didn’t Charles Folkestone help Gee-Gee when he was in hot water?

  6. Why didn’t he tell anything to Martha?

  7. What happened to the Folkstones in the run?

  8. Did anything happen to Peaches and Gee-Gee?

  9. Can you approve of Charles’s behaviour?

  10. Can you approve of Gee-Gee’s behaviour?

  11. What made them behave like that?

  12. What does the Scarlet moving van symbolize?

V.Retell the story.

A Woman without a Country”

I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian, illustrate the usage of the following words and word combinations:

to board the plane, to have nothing to do with smth, disposition, contented, humid, to catch the train, to run out of smth, to appeal to smb, sue for the custody of smb, the trial, innocence, blame one’s malfeasance on smth, to surrender one’s daims, to sail incognito, an outcast, a scape-goat, to impersonate, morbidly sensitive to critisism, to be taken for, identity, pass away, to get on the high seas, to make money on royalties, a freight, at full speed, to have one’s heart in one’s throat.

III.Answer the following questions:

  1. Where could the author meet a woman without a country?

  2. Whom did he tell a story about? What was the name of the woman? What did you learn about her life?

  3. Whom did she marry? What was her husband?

  4. What happened one humid morning to Isabella?

  5. Why did her husband leave her?

  6. Why did his parents claim custody of her only child?

  7. What made Isabella’s lofe in the USA unbearable?

  8. Where has she lived ever since?

  9. Why did she try to impersonate European?

  10. What did she feel when she met Mr Ch.Stebbins?

  11. Why did she go back to America?

  12. Why did she never leave the aiport in Idle wild?

  13. What does the bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich symbolize to Isabella and thousands of other American who stream through Europe?

  14. Can Isabella he really considered a woman without a country?

IV.Retell the story.


I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian, illustrate the usage and learn the following words and word combinations:

to be strickne with, a pack of wolves, to recover from an operation on the brain, to be cropped close a haughty man, to have one’s passport stamped, to go aboard the ship, to expire a visa, to apply for an extention, lire.

III.Answer the following questions:

  1. Who and what was Clementina? What do you know about her childhood and youth?

  2. How did it happen that she began to work for an American family? Was she content with her life? Why?

  3. What surprised Clementina in America? Why did she think that life in America was diverting and commodious?

  4. Why did she marry Joe? Why didn’t she want to go back to Italy?

  5. Wehat happen to “signore and signora”? Why did they divorce?

  6. Do you think that people shouldn’t confuse love with marriage?

  7. What doyou think of Clementina? Did she miss happiness in her life?

IV.Retell the story on behalf of:

  • Clementina

  • signore

The Angel of the Bridge”

I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian, illustrate the usage and learn the following words and word combinations:

to be a burden to, to long for, to relish, touching and painful scenes of separations, to get to one’s feet, to cash in smb’s ticket, to be strewn with, at a velocity, at a height, at altitude, a strain of jealousy, to be overtaken with phobia, to resign, to brave the car, to feel a darkening of one’s vision, to have a full analysis, to exacerbate one’s feelings, to yearn for, to come with a rush, a loss of sight, to seem ridiculous.

III.Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you know of anybody suffering from any kind of phobia?

  2. What are the symptoms of this indisposition?

  3. Do people suffering from some phobia try to coceal the symptoms? What kind of help do they need?

  4. Who is the main character of the story?

  5. When did it happen that he feel the first symptoms of phobia?

  6. Why did he try to conceal it?

  7. Who else of his family had phobia? In what situations was it revealed?

  8. Did they consult psychiayrists or analysts? Why did they think it was of no use?

  9. Where did the protagonist try to find the reason of his phobia?

  10. What conclusion did he arrive at?

  11. Did the protagonist think that his life was over and done with, that he would finish it in the psychiatric ward of the country hospital when he couldn’t overcome his phobia when taking his daughter to school?

  12. Who helped the protagonist forget about his bridge-phobia and return to normal life? What did she look like? What made him well again?

IV.Retell the story. Concentrate on the 3 phobias.

The Swimmer”

I.Read the story.

II.Give the Russian and illustrate the usage of the following:

to take a dogled, to reach one’s destination, to feel a passing affection for, to delay, to collide with, to be confined to, to take off for some place, a breach in smth, to cloear away one’s apprehension, to be exposed to, to cover some destance, to vow smth, to pledfe smth, zealous, to warn smb of smth, to break in on smb, to have a do, to suffer an injury, to pur the spring back into one’s step, to break smth off, to take the upper hand, to stagger with fatigue, to be stupefied with exhaustion.

II.Answer the following questions.

  1. Why do you think Ned Merrill decided to take a swim round the country? When did he start off?

  2. Where did his route lie?

  3. Had he a family?

  4. When did he notice the first signs of the approaching change of season? What were the signs?

  5. Why would he ask for a drink at every party he encounted on his way? Were all the people polite? Why were some of them pitiful and some rude?

  6. Did it trouble him when Mrs Halloran was sorry for his girls? (p.276).

  7. Why did he think that he was losing his memory when he was rejected to be given a drink at the Sachses’?

  8. Why was it that at Biswangers’ the part-time bartender wasn’t polite with him? Did he realize that he suffered loss of social esteem?

  9. Why did Shirley Adams, his former mistress, tell that she wouldn’t give him another cent when he hoped for the better?

  10. Was the water in the pools warm or has it turned cold? Did he see Andromeda, Cepheus and Cassiopeia instead of the constellations of midsummer?

  11. What made him cry for the 1-st time in his adult life?

  12. What did he find in his house?

  13. What do you think could have happened to his family?

  14. The change of saesons, the change of water into cold one, the change of people’s attitude towards the swimmer are dismal omes of some disaster. What was the disaster? Did it concern only Nell’s family or the society he lived in on the whole?

IV.Retell the story.