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Министерство образования и науки Российской Федерации

Федеральное агентство по образованию

ГОУ ВПО «Ивановский государственный университет»

Факультет романо-германской филологии

Кафедра английского языка

Методические указания и задания
по курсу «Аналитическое чтение»
для студентов 2 курса исторического факультета
специальности «Международные отношения»

Издательство «Ивановский государственный университет»
Составитель: к.ф.н., старший преподаватель кафедры английского языка
М.Н. Павлова

Предлагаемые методические указания, включающие в себя

произведения на английском языке, задания к ним, а также рекомендации
по анализу текстов, составлены с учётом программы и учебного плана по
английскому языку на историческом факультете специальности
«Международные отношения».
Данные методические указания предназначены для студентов 2 курса
и могут быть использованы как во время аудиторных занятий, так и для
самостоятельной внеаудиторной работы.

Печатается по решению методической комиссии

факультета романо-германской филологии
Ивановского государственного университета


кандидат филологических наук И.С. Киселёва (ИвГУ)

© Павлова М. Н., составление, 2010


The course of Analytical Reading is aimed at developing various reading

skills from skimming and general comprehension to elements of in-depth char-
acter, theme, style and point of view analysis.
The purposes of the course also include increasing fluency in reading, ex-
panding the vocabulary, training critical attitude towards text and raising cul-
tural awareness.
The texts in this learner’s guide range from classical and contemporary
short stories to real life anecdotes. The texts selected for the course are meant
to introduce a variety of styles, moods and problems. Contrasting pieces of
writing are supposed to sharpen the students’ linguistic perceptibility in a sec-
ond-language medium and their awareness of multiple points of view present
in a narrative as well as of means of their representation.
The programme combines close analysis of the stories’ subject matter and
texture with intensive vocabulary training. To this purpose each text is accom-
panied by varied activities:
1. Pre-reading activities either help channel text perception or explore the
readers’ anticipation through warming-up questions.
2. Multiple-choice and true/false Comprehension tasks are best after the
first quick reading.
3. Vocabulary Training section includes studying word meaning in con-
text, idiom, phrasal verb and pattern practice, explaining and paraphrasing,
noting polysemy and conversion, topic-related vocabulary building. These
tasks help master, activate and consolidate vocabulary essential for further dis-
cussion. The emphasis is on vocabulary likely to be used outside the particular
text analysis. Theme-wise the texts are related to the topics “Food and Cook-
ing”, “Bank”, “Post”, “TV and Radio”, “Telephone”, “Shopping”, “Everyday
Services”, “Hotel”, “Travelling”, “Cinema”.
4. Recounting and Interpreting Details section includes questions and
tasks which lead, step by step, from noting meaningful details to grasping the
narrators’ point of view and their treatment of the problem. While literary texts
are open to multiple interpretations, meaningful details are hints that enable to
get the most out of reading.
5. Creative Follow-up Work section proposes tasks that help explore the
problem from a different perspective or relate it to the reader’s experience.
Completion of comprehension and vocabulary tasks provides thorough
preparation for text analysis according to the guidelines given in the Appen-
dices – an ample reference section facilitating the students’ independent work.


TEXT 1: THE LUNCHEON………………………………………….. 5

TEXT 2: COOKING SKILLS………………………………………… 11
TEXT 3: THE TV BLACKOUT………………………………………. 16
TEXT 4: LOST IN THE POST……………………………………….. 20
TEXT 5: BUTTERFLIES……………………………………………… 23
TEXT 7: HOTEL ROOM HELL…………………………………….. 34
TEXT 8: ONLINE ROBBERY………………………………………... 39
TEXT 9: SHOPPING FOR ONE……………………………………… 44
TEXT 11: WIND SONG……………………………………………….. 54
TEXT 13: REMOVAL............................................................................. 66
TEXT 14: MR. MOUSE IN THE HOUSE…………………………… 71
TEXT 15: THE TEST………………………………………………….. 76
TEXT 16: DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?.............................................. 82
TEXT 17: CRUISE…………………………………………………….. 88
TEXT 18: WISTFUL, DELICATELY GAY (extract)………………. 94
TEXT 19: THE ENORMOUS RADIO (Part I)……………………… 100
TEXT 20: THE ENORMOUS RADIO (Part II)…………………….. 107
TEXTS FOR SKIMMING……………………………………………. 114
Appendix 1. PLAN FOR TEXT ANALYSIS………………………… 121
Appendix 2. SAMPLE ANALYSIS: TEXT STRUCTURE................. 122

Appendix 4. GLOSSARY OF LITERARY TERMS………………… 129
Appendix 5. USEFUL VOCABULARY………………………………. 134

by Somerset Maugham
Before you read:
1) Find out essential facts about the author.
2) Think about possible places for a story entitled “Luncheon” to be set
in and about characters that might be involved.

I caught sight of her at the play and in answer to her beckoning I

went over during the interval and sat down beside her. It was long since
I had last seen her and if someone had not mentioned her name I do not
think I would have recognized her. She addressed me brightly.
"Well, it's many years since we first met. How time flies! We are not
getting any younger. Do you remember the first time I saw you? You
asked me to luncheon."
Did I remember?
It was twenty years ago and I was living in Paris. I had a tiny apart-
ment in the Latin Quarter and I was earning barely enough money to
keep body and soul together. She had read a book of mine and had writ-
ten to me about it. I answered, thanking her, and presently I received
from her another letter saying that she was passing through Paris and
would like to have a chat with me; but her time was limited and the
only free moment she had was on the following Thursday. She asked
me if I would give her a little luncheon at Foyot's. Foyot's is a restau-
rant at which the French senators eat and it was so far beyond my
means that I had never even thought of going there. But I was flattered
and I was too young to say no to a woman. I had eighty francs to live
on till the end of the month and a modest luncheon should not cost
more than fifteen. If I cut out coffee for the next two weeks I could
manage well enough.
I answered that I would meet her at Foyot's on Thursday at half past
She was not so young as I expected and in appearance imposing
rather than attractive. She was in fact a woman of forty, and she gave
me the impression of having more teeth, white and large and even, than
were necessary for any practical purpose. She was talkative, but since
she seemed inclined to talk about me I was prepared to be an attentive
listener. I was startled when the menu was brought, for the prices were
a great deal higher than I had expected. But she reassured me.
"I never eat anything for luncheon," she said.
"Oh, don't say that!" I answered generously.
"I never eat more than one thing. I think people eat too much nowa-
days. A little fish, perhaps. I wonder if they have any salmon."
Well, it was early in the year for salmon and it was not on the menu,
but I asked the waiter if there was any. Yes, they had a beautiful
salmon, it was the first they had had. I ordered it for my guest. The
waiter asked her if she would have something while it was being
"No," she answered, "I never eat more than one thing. Unless you
had a little caviare. I never mind caviare."
My heart sank a little. I knew I could not afford caviare, but I could
not tell her that. I told the waiter by all means to bring caviare. For my-
self I chose the cheapest dish on the menu and that was a mutton chop.
"I think you're unwise to eat meat," she said. "I don't know how you
can expect to work after eating heavy things like chops. I never over-
load my stomach."
Then came the question of drink.
"I never drink anything for luncheon," she said.
"Neither do I," I answered promptly.
"Except white wine," she went on as though I had not spoken.
"These French white wines are so light. They are wonderful for the di-
"What would you like?" I asked her.
"My doctor won't let me drink anything but champagne." I think I
turned a little pale. I ordered half a bottle. I mentioned casually that my
doctor had absolutely forbidden me to drink champagne.
"What are you going to drink, then?"
She ate the caviare and she ate the salmon. She talked gaily of art
and literature and music. But I wondered what the bill would come to.
When my mutton chop arrived she said:
"I see that you're in the habit of eating a heavy luncheon. I'm sure
it's a mistake. Why don't you follow my example and just eat one
thing? I'm sure you'd feel much better then."
"I am only going to eat one thing," I said, as the waiter came again
with the menu.
She waved him aside with a light gesture.
"No, no, I never eat anything for luncheon. Just a bite, I never want
more than that. I can't eat anything more unless they had some of those

giant asparagus. I should be sorry to leave Paris without having some
of them."
My heart sank. I had seen them in the shops and I knew that they
were horribly expensive. My mouth had often watered at the sight of
them. "Madame wants to know if you have any of those giant aspara-
gus," I asked the waiter.
I hoped he would say no. A happy smile spread over his broad face,
and he assured me that they had some so large, so splendid, so tender,
that it was a marvel.
"I'm not in the least hungry," my guest sighed, "but if you insist I
don't mind having some asparagus."
I ordered them.
"Aren't you going to have any?"
"No, I never eat asparagus."
"I know there are people who don't like them."
We waited for the asparagus to be cooked. Panic seized me. It was
not a question now how much money I should have left for the rest of
the month, but whether I had enough to pay the bill. It would be terrible
to find myself ten francs short and be obliged to borrow from my
guest. I could not bring myself to do that. I knew exactly how much
money I had and if the bill came to more I made up my mind that I
would put my hand in my pocket and with a dramatic cry start up and
say my money had been stolen. If she had not money enough to pay the
bill then the only thing to do would be to leave my watch and say I
would come back and pay later.
The asparagus appeared. They were enormous and appetizing. The
smell of the melted butter tickled my nostrils. I watched the woman
send them down her throat and in my polite way I talked on the condi-
tion of the drama in the Balkans. At last she finished.
" Coffee?" I said.
"Yes, just an ice-cream and coffee," she answered.
It was all the same to me now, so I ordered coffee for myself and an
ice-cream and coffee for her.
"You know, there's one thing I thoroughly believe in," she said, as
she ate the ice-cream. "One should always get up from a meal feeling
one could eat a little more."
"Are you still hungry?" I asked faintly.

"Oh, no, I'm not hungry; you see, I don't eat luncheon. I have a cup
of coffee in the morning and then dinner, but I never eat more than one
thing for luncheon. I was speaking for you."
"Oh, I see!"
Then a terrible thing happened. While we were waiting for the cof-
fee, the head waiter, with a smile on his false face, came up to us bear-
ing a large basket full of huge peaches. Peaches were not in season
then. Lord knew what they cost. I knew too – a little later, for my guest,
going on with her conversation, absent-mindedly took one. "You see,
you've filled your stomach with a lot of meat and you can't eat any
more. But I've just had a snack and I shall enjoy a peach."
The bill came and when I paid it I found that I had only enough for a
quite inadequate tip. Her eyes rested for a moment on the three francs I
left for the waiter and I knew that she thought me mean. But when I
walked out of the restaurant I had the whole month before me and not a
penny in my pocket.
"Follow my example," she said as we shook hands, "and never eat
more than one thing for luncheon."
"I'll do better than that," I answered. "I'll eat nothing for dinner
"Humorist!" she cried gaily, jumping into a cab. "You're quite a hu-
But I have had my revenge at last. Today she weighs twenty-one

Choose the best answer.
1. The narrator was
a. of the same age as his guest at the luncheon
b. younger than his guest c. older than his guest

2. The woman
a. was invited by the narrator to have luncheon
b. asked the narrator to have luncheon with her
c. recognized the narrator at the restaurant and joined him

3. The narrator agreed to have luncheon at an expensive restaurant with the

woman because
a. he wanted to discuss certain art issues with her
b. he was interested in her personally
c. it would have been embarrassing for him to refuse
4. The narrator
a. ordered the same dishes and drinks for his guest and for himself
b. ordered different dishes and drinks
c. didn’t order anything at all for himself

5. After the luncheon the narrator

a. had but a few francs left b. had no money on him at all
c. couldn’t pay the bill

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
Use the example sentences and refer back to the text to help you guess the

1. Only a tiny minority hold such extreme views.

a. very strange b. very small c. different d. stupid

2. He charged a relatively modest fee.

a. high b. large c. unfair d. not very large

3. I was startled to find her sitting in my office.

a. glad b. pleasantly surprised c. unpleasantly surprised d. happy

4. She flashed him a false smile of congratulation.

a. pleasant b. warm c. sincere d. insincere

5. He thoroughly examined the papers before signing them.

a. quickly b. attentively c. poorly d. hastily

6. She deals with all correspondence promptly and efficiently.

a. thoroughly b. quickly c. attentively d. slowly

II. Find two words with the meaning opposite to “tiny” in the text.

III. Look up the word “mean” in a dictionary. How many meanings does it
have (as a verb, a noun and an adjective)? In what meaning is it used in the
text? Illustrate three meanings with examples of your own.

IV. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) to flatter 2) talkative 3) generous 4) tip 5) revenge

V. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:

1) to catch sight of; 2) in answer to; 3) by all means; 4) at the sight of; 5) to be
obliged to; 6) to make up one’s mind; 7) can’t bring myself to do smth.
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience.

NOTE. We should distinguish between author, writer and narrator.

The words author and writer are often interchangeable. They both
are used to describe a person whose occupation is book writing, the
word author being more common in this meaning.
The word writer tends to designate a person who has written a par-
ticular text, not necessarily a professional writer.
The narrator is an imaginary or half-imaginary person who tells the
story in fiction. The narrator may be very close to the actual author but
should never be confused with him/her. The narrator may be the author
at a different stage of his/her life, which changes the whole perspective.
We should not always “believe” the narrator, the narrative may be
false, misguided, biased etc. The narrator may be unreliable. This is
partially applicable to nonfiction as it is difficult to come across writ-
ing that is totally unbiased. As a result, in contemporary literary theory
the word “narrative” is used in relation to both fiction and nonfiction.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

Whenever possible, use details from the text to support you point of view.
1. What was the narrator’s profession?
2. Why did he agree to have luncheon with the woman who wanted to have a
talk with him? What was the only thing that might prevent him from doing
3. Comment on the narrator’s phrase “I was too young to say no to a woman”.
Did the narrator change over the years, to your mind?
3. What did the narrator expect of this luncheon?
4. Describe the appearance of the woman at the time when the luncheon took
5. Why did the narrator worry during the luncheon?
6. How did the woman describe her eating habits? What were they in reality?
7. Name everything that the woman had for luncheon in the order that it came
in the story. Enumerate the dishes that the narrator had.
8. Why were the peaches so expensive?
9. In what way did the narrator plan to solve his problem if the bill proved im-
possible for him to pay?
10. How did the woman’s appearance change over the years? Can you calcu-
late her weight in kilograms?
11. What advice did the woman give to the narrator? Was she being sincere, to
your mind?
12. Why did the woman call the narrator “a humorist” after the luncheon?
13. Can you explain what the narrator meant in the following lines: a) Did I re-
member? (after the first two paragraphs) b) But I have had my revenge at last
(the last line)?
14. Can you explain the humour of the story? What are the most amusing
points in the story? Can you find any instances of irony?

Creative Follow-up Work

I. Tell the story shortly from the waiter’s perspective.
II. Find as many words and expressions related to the topic “food” in the text
as you can. Use them to make up a short story of about 150 words.


by Richard Lee King
Before you read:
1) Are cooking skills necessary nowadays?
2) To your mind, who are better cooks: men or women?
3) Can you think of any amusing or embarrassing anecdotes that in-
volved cooking?

I’ve never claimed to be an expert cook, but it seems that I still have
chances to be considered average one day…
So, here’s the deal. I’ve been living alone for most of the past 25
years. You’d think that I could have developed some cooking skills in
all that time, wouldn’t you? No! I do cook from time to time, if it can
be done in the microwave or the toaster oven. And I do the occasional
meatloaf in my range oven. My specialty is the crock pot soup. And I
make a mean pot of chili. Oh, and I have a Grilling Machine of the
George Foreman variety*. It works great for hamburgers and steaks.
I’ve even done a fish fillet or two, and the skinless, boneless chicken
breasts aren’t bad either when cooked on it. But, when it actually comes
to cooking, I’m pretty much in the dark.
I don’t know if boiling eggs is considered cooking, but for the pur-
poses of this little romp through the recipe book, let’s say it is. It’s late
April, maybe the 25th and my “Snowbird” friends have been talking
about heading back to the north country. They usually leave shortly af-
Foreman, George – U.S. boxer
ter May Day. Before they leave, they often pack up their leftover gro-
ceries and deliver them to me as they head out of town. Well this year,
amongst the things they had left over there were two dozen of eggs that
they didn’t want to take on the 1,300 mile trip back to their homeland.
So they dropped them off at my house as they headed out on the road.
I probably should plan better, but you just never know what jewels
are going to fall into your lap on these occasions. Besides, I figured I
had another week, maybe even two, before they would be heading out.
So, as it happened, I had shopped for groceries just the day before their
departure and – yes, you guessed it – I had bought a dozen of eggs.
Mind you, I’m single and I eat out nearly as often as I eat at home. Just
how long do you suppose it takes me to go through a dozen of eggs?
Two dozen? Three dozen? I’d still be eating eggs next Christmas.
Well, to solve the problem, I decided to boil up a dozen of the eggs
and possibly make some egg salad sandwiches out of them. I know how
to boil water, and I figured that boiling eggs couldn’t be much harder.
It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve boiled eggs, but I have to say that
when they were talking about a 3 minute egg, I don’t think they were
talking about boiling them. That first try didn’t work out so pretty well.
When I cracked them open, they were a little runny. I wound up pitch-
ing most of them out.
But I’m a pretty fast learner. The next time I boiled them for about
20 minutes, then just to be safe, I let them set in the hot water until it
cooled. That time, I might have overcooked them a little bit. So, this
time, just in case there was some little trick to it that I hadn’t learned
yet, I called my friend and asked her just how long I should boil them.
Well, “It’s simple,” she says, “you just leave the burner on until they
start to boil, then turn off the burner and let them set for 15 minutes.”
I thought I could handle that. This seemed like a pretty simple
scheme. So, for the first dozen of eggs, I turned on the burner and let it
get hot while I ran the water in the kitchen sink until it got hot. I’m not
sure if it’s cheaper to waste all that water while you’re waiting for it to
warm up or to just let the stove burner do this and heat it from a cold
start. Now that I think about it though, I’m pretty sure the burner is a
little cheaper. Certainly it’s a lot less wasteful in terms of water. Any-
way, I put the eggs in the hot water and set them on the burner. When
the water started to boil, I turned off the burner and started the timer on
the microwave. (I use that microwave a lot, but generally not as a
timer). When the 15 minutes’ period was up, I waited a couple more,

then dumped the hot water and ran some cold water over the eggs. Per-
fect! When I started cracking the eggs they were absolutely perfect. It
seemed that I had done something exactly right for a change.
Well, a few days later I still had nearly a dozen of eggs that I had
bought and another dozen that the “Snowbirds” had left for me. So, I
decided that I’d boil up another dozen of them. I turned on the burner,
and this time rather than run the water until it got hot, I decided to just
put it on the burner and let it warm up that way. Then, when the water
started to boil, I started dropping the eggs into it… Big mistake! As I
was to find out later, cold eggs fresh from the refrigerator tend to
break open when they are dropped into boiling hot water. Strange, my
friend had never mentioned that to me. I’m pretty sure I wrote down her
instructions word for word and never, not once, did she mention that
you need to put the eggs in before the water starts to boil. Well, each
time I dropped an egg into the boiling hot water, I heard a little popping
sound. Pretty quick I started seeing little floaters in the water and some
of the eggs were floating to the top of the water. After the first 4 or 5
eggs the water had cooled back down to the point where it wasn’t bub-
bling so much and, in retrospect, I think that was a good thing.
Anyway, when all was said and done, I had 7 eggs that looked like
they might be worthy of refrigerating. Some of them were cracked, but
nothing was leaking out. The other five leaking ones looked unfit for
that purpose. Of course, that hot water should have killed any germs
that were on the outside of those egg shells, so I decided that those five
would become instant egg salad. I put the rest of them back into the egg
carton for use at a later time.
On top of all this, my friend and I are leaving in 3 days to go on a
cruise. I’m pretty certain that I can’t eat up all these eggs in 3 days and
I’m not at all certain that I want to eat them after we return. Can you
freeze eggs? Maybe I could pickle the ones that are left? But then I
don’t know how to pickle things… That would call for another story
like this.

1. The writer
a. can cook pretty well b. can cook several simple dishes
c. can’t cook at all

2. The “Snowbirds” are

a. birds who feed on the leftovers that the writer gives them
b. the writer’s friends who sometimes give him food leftovers
c. the writer’s friends who occasionally ask him to cook for them

3. In the situation that the writer describes he ended up with

a. a dozen of eggs b. two dozen of eggs c. three dozen of eggs

4. The last egg boiling was not a success because

a. the writer could not boil the water b. the eggs had been cracked
c. the eggs got cracked when placed into boiling water

5. What did the writer do with the boiled cracked eggs?

a. He threw them away. b. He used them to make a salad.
c. He put them into his refrigerator.

6. The writer
a. underestimates his cooking skills b. overestimates them
c. estimates them quite adequately

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. Can you forecast where the economy is heading?
a. developing b. growing c. moving d. leading

2. Dirty hands can be a breeding ground for germs.

a. birds b. groceries c. microbes d. cells

3. The whole process is wasteful and inefficient.

a. slow b. uneconomical c. dirty d. useless

4. He claims that he has not been given a fair hearing.

a. agreesb. states c. deniesd. remembers

5. We can handle up to 200 calls an hour at our new office.

a. make b. deal with c. help d. collect

6. In retrospect, I think that I was wrong.

a. in reality b. frankly speaking c. unfortunately d. looking back

II. Note that the words “head” and “handle” can be both nouns and verbs.
These are cases of conversion. Look up the meanings of these words as nouns
and as verbs in a dictionary and illustrate them with examples of your own.

III. Note the use of the verb tend to (+Inf). It means “to be likely to do some-
thing or to happen in a particular way because this is what often or usually
happens”. This is the common way to make generalizations, a polite and diplo-
matic way to say something critical.
When he’s tired he tends to make mistakes. (polite criticism).
It tends to get very cold here in winter. (mild generalization).
Think of two examples of your own making true observations, if possible.

IV. a) Find several phrasal verbs with the postposition UP in the text. What
does this postposition add to the meaning of the verbs? b) Find two verbs with
the postposition OUT and two verbs with the postposition FOR. Make sure
you understand their meaning.
Use two of the phrasal verbs in examples of your own.

V. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) average 2) to claim 3) to pickle 4)leftovers 5) specialty

VI. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) from time to time; 2) to be (to be kept) in the dark about smth; 3)  for a
change; 4) word for word; 5) in retrospect; 6) fresh from; 7) on top of all this.
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. How does the writer describe his cooking skills?
2. How did the writer end up with three dozen of eggs that he didn’t really
3. How many attempts at boiling eggs had the writer made before calling his
friend? Why weren’t they successful in each case? Did he try different meth-
4. How many attempts did the writer make after calling his friend?
5. In what way did he boil water in each case? What method was less waste-
6. How did the writer solve the problem of timing?
7. Why wasn’t the last attempt successful?
8. Why hadn’t his friend mentioned in her instructions that eggs fresh from the
refrigerator shouldn’t be put into boiling water?
9. Why did the writer cook so many eggs at a time?
10. The writer calls himself “a pretty fast learner”. Do you agree? Prove your
point using details from the text.

11. Find the phrase “I probably should plan better, but you just never know
what jewels are going to fall into your lap…” in the 4th paragraph. Can you ex-
plain the irony in this phrase? Can you find any other instances of irony in the
12. How does the writer see himself? Can you make any inferences about him
as a person from this text?

Creative Follow-up Work

I. What would you do in this situation? (Finish the story)
II. Tell the episode with the phone call briefly from the friend’s perspective.
III. Text 1 “Luncheon” was written in the first half of the XX century by a bril-
liant and world-famous short story writer. Text 2 “Cooking skills” is a real life
anecdote written in 2010 by an Internet blogger. Both texts are related to the
topic “food”. Can these texts be compared in any way? Can you see any simi-
larities between them? What are the differences? Study the “Glossary of Liter-
ary Terms” for clues (see Appendix 4).
IV. Find as many words and expressions related to the topic “cooking” in the
text as you can. Use them to make up a short story of about 150 words.


by Art Buchwald
Before you read:
1)What role (if any) does the television play in your life? Does it influence
your life in any way?
2) Can you imagine your life without television, computer or mobile

A week ago on Sunday New York city had a blackout and all nine
television stations in the area went out for several hours. This created
tremendous crises in families all over New York and proved that TV
plays a much greater role in people's lives than anyone can imagine.
For example, when the TV went off in the Bufkins's house panic set
in. First Bufkins thought it was his set in the living-room, so he rushed
into his bedroom and turned on that set. Nothing. The phone rang, and
Mrs. Bufkins heard her sister in Manhattan tell her that there was a
She hung up and said to her husband, "It isn't your set. Something's
happened to the top of the Empire State Building."
Bufkins looked at her and said, "Who are you?"
"I'm your wife, Edith."
"Oh," Bufkins said. "Then I suppose those kids in there are mine."
"That's right," Mrs. Bufkins said. "If you ever got out of that arm-
chair in front of the TV set you'd know who we are."
"Oh! they've really grown," Bufkins said, looking at his son and
daughter. "How old are they now?"
"Thirteen and fourteen," Mrs. Bufkins replied.
"Hi, kids!"
"Who's he?" Bufkins's son, Henry, asked.
"It's your father," Mrs. Bufkins said.
"I'm pleased to meet you," Bufkins's daughter, Mary, said shyly.
There was silence all around.
"Look," said Bufkins finally. "I know I haven't been a good father
but now that the TV's out I'd like to know you better."
"How?" asked Henry.
"Well, let's just talk," Bufkins said. "That's the best way to get to
know each other."
"What do you want to talk about?" Mary asked.
"Well, to begin with, what school do you go to?"
"We go to High School," Henry said.
"So you're both in high school!" There was a dead silence.
"What do you do?" Mary asked.
"I’m an accountant," Bufkins said.
"I thought you were a car salesman," Mrs. Bufkins said in surprise.
"That was two years ago. Didn't I tell you I changed jobs?" Bufkins
"No, you didn't. You haven't told me anything for two years."
"I'm doing quite well too," Bufkins said.
"Then why am I working in a department store?" Mrs. Bufkins de-
"Oh, are you still working in a department store? If I had known
that, I would have told you to quit last year. You should have men-
tioned it," Bufkins said.
There was more dead silence.
Finally Henry said, "Hey, do you want to hear me play the guitar?"
"You know how to play the guitar? Say, didn't I have a daughter
who played the guitar?"
"That was Susie," Mrs. Bufkins said.
"Where is she?"

"She got married a year ago, just about the time you were watching
the World Series*".
"You know," Bufkins said, very pleased. "I hope they don't fix the
antenna for another couple of hours. There's nothing better than a
blackout for a man who really wants to know his family."

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
Correct the statements that are false.
1. Mr. Bufkins’ TV set went out of order.
2. The Bufkinses had more than one TV set in their apartment.
3. When the TV set stopped functioning Mr. Bufkins was in panic.
4. The Bufkinses sent for an electrician.
5. When Mr. Bufkins was left without television he didn’t recognize his fam-
6. Mr. Bufkins’ children went to high school at the time when the blackout oc-
7. Mr. Bufkins had two children.
8. Mr. Bufkins had lost his job because of his addiction to watching TV.
9. Mrs. Bufkins worked in a department store.
10. Mr. Bufkins couldn’t wait for the antenna to be fixed.

Vocabulary Training

I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.

Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. A tremendous amount of work has gone into the project.
a. considerable b. insignificant c. very great d. important

2. We’ve got plenty of time, there’s no need to rush.

a. argue b. move fast c. call d. cancel

3. She demanded an immediate explanation.

a. gave b. remembered c. quickly prepared d. asked firmly

4. The car won’t start – can you fix it?

a. have a look at b. stop c. repair d. sell

5. I’ve seen her a couple of times before.

a. a few, about two b. a great many
c. quite a few, more than five d. half a dozen

baseball contest in America.
II. 1) Find in the text:
a) three phrasal verbs that mean something has broken down or is out of order;
b) a phrasal verb that means something began;
c) a phrasal verb that means “to stop a phone talk”.
d) a phrasal verb with the same meaning as “switch on”. What is its opposite?
Now use the phrasal verb from “c” and one phrasal verb from “a” in sentences
of your own.

III. Look up the word “set” in a dictionary. How many meanings does it have
(as a verb, noun and adjective)? In what meaning was it used in the text? What
new expressions with this word have you found?
Illustrate two meanings of the word “set” with examples of your own. You
may make up sentences with useful expressions that you have found.

IV. Note that the verb “to play” is followed by the definite article when used
with musical instruments: Do you want to hear me play the guitar? But: to
play a tune; to play football/tennis/chess/cards.
Use the verb “to play” with a name of a musical instrument in a sentence about
yourself or somebody you know (you may use an affirmative, negative or con-
ditional sentence).

V. Which characters said the following lines? Who were they addressing and
in what situations?
a) If you ever got out of that armchair in front of the TV set you'd know who we
b) If I had known that, I would have told you to quit last year.
Compare these two conditional sentences. In which case do we have a real
condition (the situation can be changed) and in which case an unreal condition
(the situation can no longer be changed)?

VI. Mr. Bufkins says the following to his wife:

You should have mentioned it.
Note the structure “should have + V3”. It is used to express a reproach in a sit-
uation that cannot be changed.
Can you think of Mrs. Bufkins’ reply to this remark? (use the same structure)

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. What was Mr. Bufkins’ usual pastime?
2. What happened one day in the area of New York where the Bufkinses lived
and what was Mr. Bufkins’ reaction?
3. How did he learn that there was a blackout and that his TV set hadn’t broken
4. What did Mr. Bufkins say when he saw his family?
5. How many members were there in the family and what was their occupa -
6. Who left the family some time ago and why?
7. What can you say about Mr. Bufkins’ career?
8. Has the blackout influenced Mr. Bufkins in any way? How did his attitude
towards his family change?
9. The plot of the story “The TV blackout” is based on a hyperbole. Look up
the meaning of this term in the “Glossary of Literary Terms”. Can you explain
how it works in the text and give some examples? What is the purpose of hy-
perbole here?
10. According to literary theory, hyperbole is internally realistic because we
can exaggerate only that which is true. Do you think this applies to the story
“The TV Blackout”? To what extent?

Creative Follow-up Work

Continue the story. Imagine that the antenna is fixed and decide whether the
blackout has had an impact on Mr. Bufkins’ life or not. You may choose the
form of a dialogue or tell the story in the third person.


by A. Philips
Before you read:
1) Do you ever use regular (“snail”) mail?
2) What forms of written communication do you prefer and why?

Ainsley, a post-office sorter, turned the envelope over and over in

his hands. The letter was addressed to his wife and had an Australian
Ainsley knew that the sender was Dicky Soames, his wife's cousin.
It was the second letter Ainsley received after Dicky's departure. The
first letter had come six months before, he did not read it and threw it
into the fire. No man ever had less reason for jealousy than Ainsley.
His wife was frank as the day, a splendid housekeeper, a very good
mother to their two children. He knew that Dicky Soames had been
fond of Adela and the fact that Dicky Soames had years back gone
away to join his and Adela's uncle made no difference to him. He was
afraid that some day Dicky would return and take Adela from him.
Ainsley did not take the letter when he was at work as his fellow-
workers could see him do it. So when the working hours were over he
went out of the post-office together with his fellow-workers, then he re-
turned to take the letter addressed to his wife. As the door of the post-
office was locked, he had to get in through a window. When he was
getting out of the window the postmaster saw him. He got angry and
dismissed Ainsley. So another man was hired and Ainsley became un-
employed. Their life became hard; they had to borrow money from
their friends.
Several months had passed. One afternoon when Ainsley came
home he saw the familiar face of Dicky Soames. "So he had turned
up," Ainsley thought to himself.
Dicky Soames said he was delighted to see Ainsley. "I have missed
all of you so much," he added with a friendly smile.
Ainsley looked at his wife. "Uncle Tom has died," she explained
"and Dicky has come into his money."
"Congratulations," said Ainsley, "you are lucky."
Adela turned to Dicky. "Tell Arthur the rest," she said quietly. "Well,
you see," said Dicky, "Uncle Tom had something over sixty thousand
and he wished Adela to have half. But he got angry with you because
Adela never answered the two letters I wrote to her for him. Then he
changed his will and left her money to hospitals. I asked him not to do
it, but he wouldn't listen to me!" Ainsley turned pale. "So those two
letters were worth reading after all," he thought to himself. For some
time everybody kept silence. Then Dicky Soames broke the silence,
"It's strange about those two letters. I've often wondered why you didn't
answer them?" Adela got up, came up to her husband and said, taking
him by the hand. "The letters were evidently lost." At that moment
Ainsley realized that she knew everything.

1. Dicky Soames was
a. Ainsley’s brother b. Adela’s cousinc. Ainsley’s friend

2. Ainsley threw Dicky’s letters away

a. because he had fallen out with him b. by mistake
c. because he was jealous of him

3. Ainsley didn’t want Dicky to return because

a. he didn’t like him b. he was afraid his wife would go away with him
c. he was afraid Dicky would try to borrow money from them

4. Ainsley lost his job because

a. he stole a letter b. he couldn’t cope c. he was pensioned off
5. Uncle Tom’s money went to
a. Dicky and Adela b. Dicky and hospitals c. Adela and hospitals

6. In the end Adela

a. got angry with Ainsley b. got angry with uncle Tom
c. didn’t get angry with anybody

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. His sudden departure threw the office into chaos.
a. dismissal b. action c. going away d. speech

2. He was very frank about his relationships with the actress.

a. proud b. happyc. ashamed d. honest

3. I’d be absolutely delighted to come.

a. not able to b. very pleased c. not eager to d. not interested

4. How long have you been unemployed?

a. not informed b.unhappy c.without a job d.without a place to live

5. We had been waiting for an hour but he didn’t turn up.

a. approach b. call c. get better d. arrive

6. Evidently, she had nothing to do with the whole affair.

a. actually b. obviously c. unfortunately d. luckily

II. a) In what meaning is the verb “miss” used in the text? What other mean-
ings does it have? Illustrate two of them with your own examples.
b) In what meaning is the verb “turn” used in the sentence “Ainsley turned
pale”? How can you substitute it?

III. a) When Ainsley was trying to get away with the letter “the door of the
post-office was locked”. What is the difference between a closed door and a
locked door?
b) Find the words with the meaning opposite to “hire” in the text.

IV. Note the structure “worth + V-ing”. Make sure you understand its meaning
and usage. Now think of your own example with it.

V. The construction “would not + Infinitive” is used to complain about people
who refuse to do something or things that don’t “obey”. (I asked him not to do
it, but he wouldn't listen to me!) Can you think of an example of your own?

VI. Note the use of the word “something” in the following sentence: "Uncle
Tom had something over sixty thousand”.
The expressions “something like/over/between/under” are used in informal
English to state an approximate number or amount of something.
E.g. Something between 20 and 30 per cent attended the meeting.
Think of an example of your own with one of these expressions.

VII. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) jealousy 2) housekeeper 3) to hire 4) will (noun)

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. Who are the characters of the story and what are their family relations?
2. What was Ainsley’s job?
3. What kind of wife was Adela?
4. Where did Dicky live for many years?
5. What happened to Dicky’s letters to Adela?
6. How did Ainsley lose his job?
7. Why did Dicky come to Ainsley’s family one day? What was the reason for
his coming back in Ainsley’s opinion?
8. What were Dicky’s letters about?
9. Where did uncle Tom’s money go?
10. What did each of the characters feel at the end of the story, to your mind?
11. The element of the plot where Ainsley burns Dicky’s letters can be de-
scribed as dramatic irony. Look up this term in the “Glossary of Literary
Terms”. Explain the origin of dramatic irony in the story.

Creative Follow-up Work

Finish the story in any way you like. You may choose to make up a dramatic,
happy, humorous, realistic, fantastic, didactic or any other ending you can
think of.

by Roger Dean Kiser
Before you read:
1) What is beauty in your understanding? What represents the idea of
beauty for you?
2) Is the idea of beauty important in a person’s life?
There was a time in my life when beauty meant something special to
me. I guess that would have been when I was about six or seven years
old, just several weeks or maybe a month before the orphanage turned
me into an old man.
I would get up every morning at the orphanage, make my bed just
like the little soldier that I had become and then I would get into one of
the two straight lines and march to breakfast with the other twenty or
thirty boys who also lived in my dormitory.
After breakfast one Saturday morning I returned to the dormitory
and saw the house parent chasing the beautiful monarch butterflies who
lived by the hundreds in the azalea bushes strewn around the orphan-
I carefully watched as he caught these beautiful creatures, one after
the other, and then took them from the net and stuck straight pins
through their head and wings, pinning them onto a heavy cardboard
How cruel it was to kill something of such beauty. I had walked
many times out into the bushes, all by myself, just so the butterflies
could land on my head, face and hands so I could look at them up
When the telephone rang the house parent laid the large cardboard
paper down on the back cement step and went inside to answer the
phone. I walked up to the cardboard and looked at the one butterfly
who he had just pinned to the large paper. It was still moving about so I
reached down and touched it on the wing causing one of the pins to fall
out. It started flying around and around trying to get away but it was
still pinned by the one wing with the other straight pin. Finally it's wing
broke off and the butterfly fell to the ground and just quivered.
I picked up the torn wing and the butterfly and I spat on its wing
and tried to get it to stick back on so it could fly away and be free be -
fore the house parent came back. But it would not stay on him.
The next thing I knew the house parent came walking back out of
the back door by the garbage room and started yelling at me. I told him
that I did not do anything but he did not believe me. He picked up the
cardboard paper and started hitting me on the top of the head. There
were all kinds of butterfly pieces going everywhere. He threw the card-
board down on the ground and told me to pick it up and put it in the
garbage can inside the back room of the dormitory and then he left.

I sat there in the dirt, by that big old tree, for the longest time trying
to fit all the butterfly pieces back together so I could bury them whole,
but it was too hard to do. So I prayed for them and then I put them in
an old torn up shoe box and I buried them in the bottom of the fort that
I had built in the ground, out by the large bamboos, near the blackberry
Every year when the butterflies would return to the orphanage and
try to land on me I would try and shoo them away because they did not
know that the orphanage was a bad place to live and a very bad place to

1. When did beauty mean something to the narrator?
a. all his life b. only before the age of six or seven
c. only after the age of six or seven

2. One day the house parent

a. was watching butterflies b. was showing butterflies to the children
c. was catching butterflies

3. The narrator touched the butterfly caught by the house parent because
a. he wanted to have a closer look at it
b. he wanted to see if he could save it
c. he wanted to take it away for his collection

4. The house parent was angry with the boy

a. because the boy had ruined his butterfly collection
b. because the boy had been watching him c. for no obvious reason

5. The house parent told the boy to put the collection into the garbage can. The
a. obeyed b. refused to do this
c. took the collection for some other purpose

6. After this incident the boy scared butterflies away

a. because he no longer liked to watch them
b. because he was afraid someone would kill them
c. because they reminded him of the beating he had got from the house parent

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. My dog likes chasing rabbits.
a. eating b. running after c. watching d. killing

2. She marched over to me and demanded an apology.

a. called b. returned c. walked d. shouted

3. She yelled at the child to get down from the wall.

a. looked b. told c. expected d. shouted

4. There were strange creatures on the poster advertising the movie.

a. people b. animals c. beings d. insects

II. Note that the words “land” and “pin” can be used both as nouns and verbs.
Explain their meaning in each case and give your examples.

III. The word “to march” has the basic meaning “to walk”. Can you explain
and illustrate the difference in meaning between these manners of walking?
What other ways of moving on your feet can you think of?

IV. How many meanings and uses does the verb “to fit” have? Illustrate two of
them with your own examples. (In the text it is used as a phrasal verb: to fit
back together).

V. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) orphanage 2) to quiver 3) to pray 4) dormitory

VI. a) The narrator uses the grammatical structure “would + Infinitive” three
times (twice in the 2nd paragraph and once in the last). What does it mean?
Make up an example of your own.
b) The construction “would not + Infinitive” is used in the 7th paragraph. It is
used to complain about people or things that don’t obey. Can you think of an
example of your own?
c) In the last paragraph the narrator uses the construction “try and + Infini-
tive”. This is the same as “try + to-Infinitive”, but it is more common in collo-
quial language and is often used when giving advice or promising to do some-
thing. Think of an example of your own.

VII. Find 8 phrasal verbs in the 6th paragraph. Make up one sentence using two
or three (or more) of these phrasal verbs at the same time.

Recounting and Interpreting Details
1. Where did the narrator live as a little boy? What was his daily routine?
2. In the 2nd paragraph the narrator compared himself with a soldier (“just like
the little soldier”). This is an instance of simile. Can you explain what he
3. Prove that the idea of beauty was important for the boy (use different parts
of the text).
4. What symbolized beauty for him while he was at the orphanage?
5. What did he witness one day?
6. Did the boy save one of the butterflies from the house parent’s collection?
Why did the boy spit on the butterfly’s wing?
7. What was the house parent’s reaction to the boy’s being there with his col -
8. Who ruined the collection?
9. What was the fate of the collection? Describe the “burial” of the butterflies.
10. Was the house parent really upset about the collection, to your mind?
11. The narrator says he was sitting “in the dirt” while trying to fit butterfly
pieces back together. This is an instance of landscape detail and of symbol.
Can you explain why he mentions this detail?
12. How did the incident with the butterflies change the boy’s world outlook?
13. In the first paragraph the narrator says that a certain point in his biography
(when he was six or seven) turned him “into an old man”. This is a case of
foreshadowing, i.e. from this phrase we understand that the narrator was going
to face some disaster or experience a misery. Can you explain his phrase?

Creative Follow-up Work

Text 4 “Butterflies” is not fiction, but an autobiographical sketch. In non-
fiction there can hardly be unaccountable, “pure” villains demanded, for exam-
ple, by the genre of a detective or horror story.
Can you account in any way for the behaviour of the house parent (not to
justify it, but to explain)? What could his life story be?


by James Thurber
Before you read:
1) Find out essential facts about the author.
2) Have you ever read inspirational or self-improvement mind and person-
ality psychological books? What impression did you have of them? Have
you found them useful?

The mental efficiency psychological books go into elaborate detail

about how to attain Masterful Adjustment, but it seems to me the prob-

lems they set up, and knock down, are in the main unimaginative and
trivial: the little fusses at the breakfast table, the routine troubles at the
office, the familiar anxieties over money and health – the welter of
workaday annoyances which all of us meet with and usually conquer
without extravagant wear and tear.
I could cite a dozen major handicaps to masterful Adjustment,
which the thought technicians never touch upon, a dozen situations not
so easy of analysis and solution as most of theirs. I will, however, con-
tent myself with one.
Let us consider the case of a man of my acquaintance, Harry Con-
ner, who had accomplished Discipline of Mind, overcome the Will to
Fail, mastered the Technique of Living – had, in a word, practically at-
tained Masterful Adjustment. He was called on the phone one after-
noon about five o'clock by a man named Bert Scursey. Harry Conner
did not answer the phone, however; his wife answered it. As Scursey
told me the story later, he had no intention when he dialled the Conners'
apartment at the Hotel Graydon of doing more than talk with Harry.
But, for some strange reason when Louise Conner answered, Bert
Scursey found himself pretending to be, and imitating the voice of, a
coloured woman. This Scursey is by way of being an excellent mimic,
and a coloured woman is one of the best things he does.
'Hello,' said Mrs. Conner.
In a plaintive voice, Scursey said, 'Is dis heah Miz Commah?'
Yes, this is Mrs. Conner,' said Louise. 'Who is speaking?'
'Dis heah's Edith Rummum,' said Scursey. ‘Ah used wuck for yo
frens was nex doah yo place a Sou Norwuck.'
Naturally, Mrs. Conner did not follow this, and demanded rather
sharply to know who was calling and what she wanted. Scursey, his
voice soft with feigned tears, finally got it over to his friend's wife that
he was one Edith Rummum, a coloured maid who had once worked for
some friends of the Conners' in South Norwalk, where they had lived
some years before. 'What is it you want, Edith?' asked Mrs. Conner,
who was completely taken in by the impostor (she could not catch the
name of the South Norwalk friends, but let that go). Scursey – or Edith,
rather – explained in a pitiable, hesitant way that she was without work
or money and that she didn't know what she was going to do; Rum-
mum, she said, was in the gaolhouse because of a cutting scrape on a
roller-coaster. Now, Louise Conner happened to be a most kind-

hearted person, as Scursey well knew, so she said that she could per-
haps find some laundry work for Edith to do.
‘Yessum,’ said Edith. 'Ah laundas.'
At this point, Harry Conner's voice, raised in the room behind his
wife, came clearly to Scursey, saying, 'Now, for God's sake, Louise,
don't go giving our clothes out to somebody you never saw or heard of
in your life.'
This interjection of Conner's was in firm keeping with a theory of
logical behaviour which he had got out of the Mind and Personality
books; There was no Will to Weakness here, no Desire to Have His
Shirts Ruined, no False Sympathy for the Coloured Woman Who Has
Not Organized Her Life.
But Mrs. Conner who often did not listen to Mr. Conner in spite of
his superior mental discipline, prevailed.
‘Where are you now, Edith ?' she asked.
This disconcerted Scursey for a moment but he finally said, 'Ah's jes
rounda corna, Miz Commah.'
'Well, you come over to the Hotel Graydon,' said Mrs. Conner.
'We're in Apartment 7-A on the seventh floor.'
'Yessm,' said Edith. Mrs. Conner hung up and so did Scursey. He
was now, he realized, in something of a predicament. Since he did not
possess a streamlined mind, as Dr. Mursell has called it, and had defi-
nitely a Will to Confuse, he did not perceive that his little joke had
gone far enough. He wanted to go on with it, which is a characteristic
of wool-gatherers, pranksters, wags, wish fulfillers, and escapists gen-
erally. He enjoyed fantasy as much as reality, probably even more,
which is a sure symptom of Regression, Digression and Analogical
Redintegration. What he finally did, therefore, was to call back the
Conners and get Mrs. Conner on the phone again.
'Jeez, Miz. Commah,' he said, with a hint of panic in his voice, 'Ah
cain' fine yo apottoman!'
'Where are you, Edith?' she asked.
'Lawd, Ah doan know,' said Edith. 'Ah's on some floah in de Hotel
'Well, listen, Edith, you took the elevator, didn't you?'
'Das whut Ah took,' said Edith, uncertainly.
'Well, you go back to the elevator and tell the boy you want off at
the seventh floor. I'll meet you at the elevator.'
'Yessm,' said Edith, with even more uncertainty.

At this point, Conner's loud voice, speaking to his wife, was again
heard by Scursey. 'Where in the hell is she calling from?' demanded
Conner, who had developed Logical Reasoning. 'She must have wan-
dered into somebody else's apartment if she is calling you from this
building, for God's sake!' Whereupon, having no desire to explain
where Edith was calling from, Scursey hung up.
After an instant of thought, or rather Disintegrated Phantasmagoria,
Scursey rang the Conners again. He wanted to prevent Louise from
going out to the elevator and checking up with the operator. This time,
as Scursey had hoped, Harry Conner answered, having told his wife
that he would handle this situation.
'Hello!' shouted Conner, irritably. 'Who is this?'
Scursey now abandoned the role of Edith and assumed a sharp,
fussy, masculine tone.
'Mr. Conner,' he said, crisply, 'this is the office. I am afraid we shall
have to ask you to remove this coloured person from the building. She
is blundering into other people's apartments, using their phones. We
cannot have that sort of thing, you know, at the Graydon.'
The man's words and his tone infuriated Conner ‘There are a lot of
‘sort of things’ I'd like to see you not have at the Graydon!' he shouted.
'Well, please come down to the lobby and do something about this
situation,' said the man, nastily.
'You're damned right, I'll come down!' howled Conner.
He banged down the receiver.
Bert Scursey sat in a chair and gloated over the involved state of af-
fairs which he had created. He decided to go over to the Graydon,
which was just up the street from his own apartment, and see what was
happening. It promised to have all the confusion which his disorderly
mind so deplorably enjoyed. And it did have. He found Conner in a
tremendous rage in the lobby, accusing an astonished assistant man-
ager of having insulted him. Several persons in the lobby watched the
curious scene.
'But, Mr. Conner,' said the assistant manager, a Mr. Bent, 'I have no
idea what you are talking about.'
'If you listen, you'll find out!' bawled Harry Conner. 'In the first
place, this coloured woman's coming to the hotel was no idea of mine.
I've never seen her in my life and I don't want to see her! I want to go to
my grave without seeing her!' He had forgotten what the Mind and Per-
sonality books had taught him: never raise your voice in anger, always

stick to the point. Naturally, Mr. Bent could only believe that his guest
had gone out of his mind. He decided to humour him. 'Where is this –
ah – coloured woman, Mr. Conner?' he asked, warily. He was some-
what pale and was fiddling with a bit of paper. A dabbler in psychol-
ogy books himself, he wondered if Conner had not fallen out of love
with his wife without realizing it. (This theory, I believe, Mr. Bent has
clung to ever since, although the Conners are one of the happiest cou-
ples in the country.)
'I don't know where she is!' cried Conner. 'She's up on some other
floor phoning my wife! You seemed to know all about it! I had nothing
to do with it! I opposed it from the start! But I want no insults from you
no matter who opposed it!'
'Certainly not, certainly not,' said Mr. Bent, backing slightly away.
He began to wonder what he was going to do with this maniac.
At this juncture Scursey, who had been enjoying the scene at a safe
distance, approached Conner and took him by the arm 'What's the mat-
ter, old boy ?' he asked.
'H'lo, Bert,' said Conner, sullenly.
And then, his eyes narrowing, he began to examine the look on
Scursey's face. Scursey is not good at dead-panning; he is only good
on the phone. There was a guilty grin on his face.
'You…' said Conner, bitterly, remembering Scursey's pranks of
mimicry, and he turned on his heel, walked to the elevator, and, when
Scursey tried to get in too, shoved him back into the lobby. That was
the end of the friendship between the Conners and Bert Scursey. It was
more than that. It was the end of Harry Conner's stay at the Graydon. It
was, in fact, the end of his stay in New York City. He and Louise live
in Oregon now, where Conner accepted a less important position than
he had held in New York because the episode of Edith had turned him
against Scursey, Mr. Bent, the Graydon, and the whole metropolitan
Is there anything to be done about Bert Scurseys? Hardly anyone
goes through life without encountering them and having their life – and
their mind – accordingly modified. Can we so streamline our minds
that the antics of Scurseys roll off them like water off a duck’s back? I
don’t think so. I believe the authors of the inspirational books don’t
think so, either, but are afraid to attack the subject. A person might
build up a streamlined mind, a mind awakened to new life, a new disci-
pline, only to have the whole works shot to pieces by so minor and un-

predictable a thing as, say, a wrong number. The undisciplined mind
runs far less chance of having its purpose thwarted, its plans distorted,
its whole scheme and system wrenched out of line. An undisciplined
mind, in short, is far better adapted to the confused world in which we
live today than a streamlined mind. This, I’m afraid, is no place for
streamlined minds.

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. Harry Conner tried to follow Masterful Adjustment books.
2. Bert Scursey was a prankster, especially good at imitating voices.
3. One day Bert Scursey rang the Conners up with the intention to play a prac -
tical joke on them.
4. Bert Scursey imitated an old friend of the Conners’.
5. Mrs. Conner was taken in by the jester.
6. Harry Conner came down to the hotel office and fixed the problem.
7. The hotel assistant manager thought that Mr. Conner behaved in a strange
8. The Conners never learned it was a joke.
9. Masterful Adjustment books helped Mr. Conner handle the situation.
10. The narrator approves of Masterful Adjustment books.

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. Window grates were of elaborate design.
a. beautiful b. tasteless c. complicated d. tasteful

2. I don’t feel I’ve accomplished very much today.

a. learned b. achieved c. communicated d. received

3. The company is in financial predicament.

a. advantage b. period c. development d. difficult situation

4. “Who cares?” said he with feigned indifference.

a. absolute b. sincere c. pretended d. offensive

5. Office software has been modified over the years.

a. disliked b. appreciated c. adapted d. substituted

6. The company employs no more than a couple of dozen people.

a. two b. five c. twelve d. a hundred

7. He was charged for possessing a shotgun without a license.
a. buying b. selling c. pointing d. having

II. Find in the text

a) nouns that have the same roots as the verbs “to annoy” and “to solve”, re-
b) a noun which has the same root as the adjective “anxious”;
c) an adjective which means “huge, very great”.

III. The verbs “to follow” and “to catch” have several quite different mean-
ings. In what meanings are they used in the text? Find the corresponding sen-
tences and paraphrase them.

IV. a) Note that the words “fuss” and “hint” can be both nouns and verbs. In
what meaning are they used in the text? What prepositions follow these words
if they are used as verbs? Give your examples.
Find in the text an adjective which has the same root as the noun and the verb
b) The meaning of the verb “to humour” is quite different from the noun “hu-
mour”. Explain what the sentence containing this verb means in the context of
the story.
c) Note that the word “insult” can be both a noun and a verb and its stress pat-
tern changes correspondingly: in the noun the first syllable is stressed whereas
in the verb the stress in on the second syllable. Find in the text two sentences
with this word and read them correctly, depending on whether “insult” is a
verb or a noun.
d) In the word “elaborate”, which can be both an adjective and a verb, the
stress is always on the second syllable, but the pronunciation of the vowel in
the last syllable changes. In the adjective it is [ɪ] or schwa [ə]; in the verb it is
[eɪ], a diphthong. Give your examples with “elaborate” as a verb and as an ad-

V. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) impostor 2) dabbler 3) deadpan (adj.) 4) welter

VI. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) to set up a problem; 2) to be taken in by; 3) to happen to be; 4) to be in
(firm) keeping with/to be out of keeping with; 5) in spite of; 6) to prevent smb

from doing smth; 7) to raise one’s voice; 8) to stick to the point; 9) to fiddle
with; 10) at a safe distance.
Now use idioms number 2, 5, 6, 8 and 9 in examples of your own. Try to relate
them to your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. What kind of person was Harry Conner? How did he discipline his mind?
Did his wife follow these techniques as well?
2. Who was Bert Scursey? What were his most remarkable traits?
3. What kind of joke did Scursey play on Mrs. Conner one day?
4. How did it happen that Harry Conner got involved in the joke?
5. How did Harry Conner behave in the situation brought about by Scursey’s
6. What was the outcome of the practical joke?
7. Throughout the story the narrator uses many pejorative and negative charac-
teristics describing Bert Scursey. Why? Find some of them.
8. What was the root of the problem caused by Scursey?
9. Were inspirational “mind and personality” books popular at the time when
the action took place? Prove it from the text.
10. What is the narrator’s attitude towards such books? In what ways does he
show it? What is the main idea of the last paragraph?

Creative Follow-up Work

I. Find in the text the sentences that Bert Scursey pronounces imitating
Edith Rummum. Can you “decipher” all of them? Rewrite them in correct
II. Have you ever had any misunderstanding over the phone, a funny situa-
tion caused by dialling a wrong number?
Find as many words and expressions related to the topic “telephone” in the
text as you can. Tell your story shortly (150-200 words) using this vocabulary.


by Michelle Renee
Before you read:
What is essential for you in accommodation?

It was our first trip to the windy city, Chi Town. I couldn't wait to
get there and take it all in. After all, summertime in Chicago is
supposed to be beautiful, and it was. We were there for the first two
days as advocates for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, an
organization giving a voice to youth and families in trauma treatment
environments. To say this was an exceptional experience for both my
daughter and me is an understatement. What an honor! And we had
the opportunity to take two extra days to enjoy this unforgettable city.
Navy Pier and viewing the city from the top of the Ferris Wheel was
gorgeous and the stained glass display with the history of the
timepieces was really awesome to see. The deep pan pizza was the best
cheese pie I have ever sunk my teeth into and the dogs at Downtown
Dogs gave me a new appreciation for these buns.
The jazz at Grand Park with brightly colored umbrellas coloring the
atmosphere and people mingling and munching, especially the sweet
old guy named Al that sat next to us, made for a fantastic outdoor
evening surrounded by fabulous historical buildings, kids playing and
eating ice cream. Two days is only enough to scratch the surface of
what there is to do and see there.
But back at the Avenue hotel off Michigan Avenue on the
Magnificent Mile, things went from bad to worse. At first glance our
hotel room was the picture of perfection. Modern meets retro vibe with
fun zebra print chairs my teenage daughter loved. We arrived at 2 a.m.
and immediately fell onto the beds, which turned out to be the second
best part of the room. The first was the incredible city view from the
38th floor.
But just as I was admiring the view I noticed that it sounded like a
helicopter was hovering just outside my window. When I called down
to the front desk they had no idea what it could be and no earplugs to
send up. (Yes, I learned to pack them every time I travel now!) The
next morning we were up at 6:30 for all-day meetings and dinner with
the group and back at 10 p.m. Loving the "on top of the world" view I
opted for earplugs from Walgreens not to change rooms as this would
have meant the hassle of moving all our things. And just before I
climbed into bed a hot shower was just what the Dr. ordered.
The big round showerhead was calling my name. But as I turned the
handle the trickle remained a trickle. My hot shower became a hot
annoying, barely more than a dribble experience. So, my mind says: go
look at the view and breathe and get some sleep. No big deal, right?
By night number three we were enjoying the fact that the bath tub
was in working order. It was bucketing down outside and the thunder
and lightning made a fantastic show out the big window. We pulled up
the chairs, put our feet up and watched in wonder as the sky lit up and
rumbled. As my daughter went to bed and drifted off into a peaceful
sleep I turned on the TV and then heard a "thud" on the floor near the

door. Anyone would normally jump a bit in this situation and I, being a
kidnap survivor who was held hostage after men broke the backdoor to
my home down at night, was even more jumpy when I heard the noise.
My heart was pounding as I turned on the light to see a plastic part
from the wall had fallen off and hit the floor.
Relieved, but shaking my head due to the obvious thought "what the
hell is going on with this room", I headed back to bed. On the way to
my bed, however, I stepped into a small puddle of water on the carpet
near the bed. Needing some sleep, I put my earplugs in and drifted off
into a semi-sleep state thinking I will deal with that in the morning. By
morning it was a giant four foot flooded area that made a "squishy"
noise when we stepped on it. My daughter and I could not help but
laugh and call the Manager. The front desk informed me he would be
paged and would call us back. Knowing we would definitely need to
change rooms for our last night in Chi Town due to the now flooded
room, I waited for his call. Two and a half hours passed. No call.
I finally called back and firmly suggested the front desk person get
him out of whatever meeting he was in to help us get out of our soggy,
falling apart room. John called back within ten minutes and had us
moved to a corner so-called suite (smaller bathroom, smaller sleeping
area now with only one bed instead of two, and a living room area with
a broken air conditioner). When I asked him what he was going to do to
compensate us for all that had happened he offered to compensate one
of our four nights there. Well, I could understand that offer if only one
thing had gone horribly wrong. But all this and wasting three hours of
our last day in Chicago waiting for a phone call and the keys to our new
room to get to us? I suggested two nights. He said that wasn't their
I guess their "policy" is to put guests into rooms that flood, fall
apart, are plagued with noise and have a shower that barely works. He
didn't budge and I decided to let the conversation end, move rooms and
just get on with our day and focus on the fact that we have a good sense
of humor, can laugh about it all together and remember all that the
beautiful city of Chicago had to offer outside of the hotel room from

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. The narrator and her daughter went to Chicago as tourists.
2. They liked everything about their trip but the hotel room.
3. The problem with the room was that there was not enough furniture.
4. There was no city view from the room.
5. The ceiling and the walls were leaky and the shower barely worked.
6. The bath tub was not in working condition.
7. What made the narrator move to another room was some irritating noise.
8. The hotel staff were helpful and understanding.
9. The narrator got compensation for one night spent at the hotel, but she
thought it was not enough.
10. The unpleasant experience with the hotel room ruined the narrator’s trip.

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. The conference is going to be a lot of extra work.
a. unusual b. quick c. additional d. interesting

2. I heaved with all my might but still couldn’t budge it.

a. lift b. change c. understand d. move

3. Send them a fax – it’s a lot less hassle than phoning.

a. time b. difficulty c. expenditure d. misunderstanding

4. A hawk hovered over the hill.

a. flew quickly b. suddenly flew downwards
c. stayed in the air in one place d. flew up

5. I had barely started speaking when he interrupted me.

a. already b. quickly c. hardlyd. almost

6. The machine rumbled when it started up.

a. rattledb. stopped c. broke down d. darted off

II. Find in the text:

a) four adjectives that describe something that the speaker liked very much;
b) three words or expressions that describe weather;
c) a noun that has the same root as the verb “to appreciate”;
d) an adjective that has the same root as the verb “to forget”. What does it

III. Note the word “so-called”. How can you translate it into Russian? In what
case do we use it? Give your example.

IV. a) What does the phrasal verb “to drift off” mean? With what postposition
is the verb “to drift” used in the meaning “to become less friendly or close”?
b) Note the phrasal verb “to opt for”. Its opposite is “to opt against”. Make
up a sentence with either of these verbs describing your experience or giving
advice. What noun having the same root do you know?

V. Which word?
a) historic/historical
The adjective “historic” is used to describe something that is so important that
it is likely to be remembered. “Historical” usually describes something that is
connected with the past or with the study of history.
Choose the adjective that fits better in the following sentences:
1. I have been doing some (historic/historical) research.
2. Today is a (historic/historical) occasion for our country.
3. The building is of (historic/historical) importance.
4. Was Robin Hood a (historic/historical) figure?
b) classic/classical
“Classic” describes something that is accepted as being of very high quality
and one of the best of its kind. “Classical” describes a form of traditional
Western music and other things that are traditional in style. It is also used to
talk about things that are connected with the culture of Ancient Greece and
Choose the right adjective for the following nouns:
1) example; 2) architecture; 3) period; 4) case; 5) music.

VI. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) understatement 2) hostage 3) to mingle 4) to munch 5) suite

VII. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) to be supposed to; 2) at first glance; 3) to turn out to be; 4) no big deal.
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. Where did the narrator go and for what purpose? Who was she? Who did
she take with her?
2. What did the narrator enjoy during the first day in Chicago?
3. What was her impression of the hotel room at first glance? What were the
best things about the room?
4. What was the problem during the first night? How did the narrator solve it?
5. What happened when the narrator wanted to take a shower?
6. Were the narrator and her daughter displeased with the weather during the
third night?
7. What happened during the thunderstorm?
8. How did the narrator handle the problem and what was the outcome?
9. Was the narrator pleased with the service? In what place of the story is she
being ironic?
10. Did the narrator and her daughter enjoy their last day? What helped them?

Creative Follow-up Work

Have you ever had a similar experience? Can you think of a situation when
things went from bad to worse? You may tell what happened to you or some-
one you know or make up a fictional story.


by Kathy Kristof
Before you read:
1) Who are hackers?
2) Do you know any hacker stories? Have hackers ever tried to attack your
3) What are the advantages and disadvantages of online banking, to your

It’s every technophobe’s nightmare, but this time it’s true. Some
$50,000 was stolen from Fan Bao’s online bank account by Croatian
computer hackers and the bank told him that the loss is not their
Could it happen to you? Here’s the back story to help fill in who is
at risk.
Seven years ago, Fan Bao opened a checking account at Bank of
America to facilitate his small import-export business called ZICO
USA. When he needed to wire money, he or his wife, Cathy Huang,
would walk a few blocks to Bank of America’s Highland Park,
California, and execute the transfer in person.
But two summers ago, a BofA branch official urged Bao to do his
banking online, assuring him that it was every bit as safe as banking in
person. Only wires sent from Zico’s computer, accompanied by a
downloaded security certificate, would be honored, he was told. Bao
followed the bank’s security instructions to the letter, and accepted the
bank’s assurances that his money was safe.
But last summer, two fraudulent drafts were sent through Bao’s
account – one for $50,000 and another for $99,100. Both drafts were
going to a bank in Croatia that Bao had never done business with. In
fact, Bao had never before sent a wire transfer to anyone outside of
Hong Kong or China.
The bank recognized that the transfers were improbable, but didn’t
stop them. A bank official called Bao to report “unusual activity” on his
account, but refused to tell him what it was because Huang was the
company’s only “authorized agent” and she was on a business trip in
Hong Kong, according to court filings. When Huang was able to reach
BofA later that day, the couple discovered that nearly $150,000 in
unauthorized wires had been charged to their business.
Huang immediately denounced the charges as unauthorized and
fraudulent. The bank was subsequently able to stop payment on the
second draft for $99,100, but the other $50,000 had already been paid
to the Croatian bank and the money had been withdrawn. When Bao
asked for the money back, Bank of America told him the missing
$50,000 wasn’t their problem.
Why? Bao had agreed to the bank’s “terms and conditions” when
opening the business checking account, which said that the bank did not
have to make any special effort to “detect errors” in wire transfer
requests. Wire transfer rules only require the bank to follow standard
security protocol, which includes encrypting accounts. In a five-page
response that Nada Alnajafi, Bao’s attorney, calls a “form letter,” * the
bank cites wire transfer rules that say that for Bao to recover the fraud
loss from the bank, he has to prove that it was the bank – not Bao – that
had the security breach.
Bao has seen no other indication of hacking on his own computers,
Alnajafi said. Aside from these two wires, neither this nor any of his
other financial accounts, have been hit. Nonetheless, the bank says in
its letter that it suspects that given the amount of “malware” † in the
online community, Zico’s computer was infected with some type of
“keylogging virus” that captured his user credentials. Thus, he’s stuck.
If Bao contends otherwise, it’s incumbent on the small business owner
to file a suit against one of the nation’s biggest banks to prove it.
He’s done just that. Bao says in the suit, filed in Los Angeles
Superior Court, that the fraud occurred only weeks before the bank
was set to initiate tightened security procedures that included a
a standardized letter to deal with frequently occurring matters.

“malicious + software” – software that is intended to damage or disable com-
puters and computer systems.
“SafePass token.” The bank informed him they were adding this level
of security in late May and Bao immediately signed up. But the bank
didn’t “activate” Bao’s safe pass until July 13. The fraud occurred on
June 22.
Bao’s suit indicates that he suspects that bank employees are in on
the scam. He is alleging negligence and breach of good faith and fair
dealing, among other things. He asks for his money back.
Bank spokeswoman Shirley Norton said the bank has not been
served with the suit, so it cannot comment on the allegations. Citing
client confidentiality, the bank also would not comment on any specific
client matter. But Norton said that the bank takes safeguarding client
information very seriously.
“BA Direct includes an advanced security mechanism with layered
security controls for authenticating wire transfers,” she said in an e-
mail. “Those controls include personal digital certificates, encryption,
customized authorization and entitlement, separation of duties,
automatic log-offs and password expiration. Our security procedure is
consistent with those used by other major banks to authenticate wire
Before the suit was filed, Bank of America attorneys wrote a letter
to Bao that said: “Neither the Bank nor any other major wire transfer
bank is or can be in the position of manually vetting each incoming
payment order to make an independent assessment whether it appears
to be ‘normal’ for a particular customer. Such a process would be
commercially infeasible and would delay or halt billions of dollars of
wire transfers each day and would constitute an unacceptable
substitution of the bank’s judgment for that of its customers.”
Alnajafi skeptically replied that banks, of course, do just this with
millions of credit card transactions each day. “If you try to use your
credit card out of state to buy a cup of coffee, they’ll freeze your
account,” she said. “But wiring $150,000 to Croatia, when you’ve
never sent a dime there before? That’s not going to set off any alarms.”

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. Fan Bao is the owner of a big and influential company.
2. Fan Bao decided to do his business online for convenience.
3. In general Bao preferred to do his banking in person.
4. Bao wired money transfers to many countries.
5. As a result of a hacker attack Bao lost 150,000 $.
6. Even though it was expensive to file a suit against the bank Bao did it.
7. The bank partially admitted the error and paid 99,100 $ back.
8. The attack occurred because Bao hadn’t signed up for the new level of
security SafePass.
9. The bank where Bao had opened his account has an advanced security
10. After the incident with Fan Bao’s account the bank introduced manual
tracing of payment orders to decide whether they are normal for a particular

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. The new trade agreement facilitates more rapid economic growth.
a. makes possibleb. makes slower c. deals with d. stops

2. The company has introduced new measures to deal with fraudulent insur-
ance claims.
a. numerous b. growing c. large d. deceitful

3. He’s worked there for nearly ten years.

a. about b. more than c. almost d. at least

4. She publicly denounced the government’s handling of the crisis.

a. demanded b. strongly criticized c. discussed d. denied

5. It’s just not feasible (=infeasible) to manage the business on a part-time ba-
a. unprofitable b. inefficient c. impossible d. not clear

6. The trial was halted after the first week.

a. handled b. stopped c. started d. continued

7. Margarine can be substituted for butter in this recipe.

a. taken b. added to c. changed d. not used

8. The original interview notes were subsequently lost.

a. obviously b. unfortunately c. long ago d. later

II. Find in the text two nouns which mean “cheating”.

III. Look up the words “account” and “draft” in a dictionary. They have many
meanings which are quite different. In what meanings are they used in the

IV. Note that the words “file”, “suit” and “charge” can be both nouns and
verbs. Look them up in a dictionary and find meanings that are new to you. In
what meanings are they used in the text?
Illustrate two meanings of each word (either as a verb or a noun) with sen-
tences of your own.

V. Make sure you understand the meaning of the word “breach”. Find three
collocations with this word in the text.
Now look this word up and find three more similar collocations.

VI. Find in the text:

a) an adjective with the same root as the noun “fraud”
b) a noun with the same root as the verb “to allege”

VII. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) nightmare 2) to urge 3) credentials 4) to vet 5)assessment 6) negligence

VIII. Note how each of the following idioms and expressions is used in the
1) to fill smb in on smth (=to inform); 2) to be/put at risk; 3) in person; 4)
aside from; 5) to file/bring a suit against smb.
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience or to something you heard in the news.

IX. Vocabulary building. Find in the text and arrange in three columns words
and expressions related to the following topics:
a) banking (including online banking);
b) legal procedures;
c) using a computer and going online.
Use one of the vocabulary columns to make up a short story or a report of
about 100 words.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. What kind of business is Fan Bao running?
2. What way of wiring money does he prefer?
3. Why did Bao open an online account?
4. How did Bao learn about the fraudulent drafts sent through his account?
5. How much money did Bao lose as a result of a hacker attack and how much
money did he manage to save from being transferred?
6. Why did the bank refuse to pay back?
7. Why didn’t Bao’s SafePass work at the time of the hacker attack?
8. What does Bao allege in his suit?
9. Why did the bank refuse to change the procedure of processing money
10. How can you describe the tone of the last paragraph? Whose words are
11. Does the writer seem to support Bao? What details does she give that help
build his image as a person? How can you characterize him judging by these

Creative Follow-up Work

The text “Online Robbery” was written in 2010 and it is an account of real
events. These events could also provide a basis for a fictional story. Tell the
story shortly from Bao’s perspective. You may leave out or add any details.


by Anne Cassidy
Before you read:
1) What do you like and what do you dislike about supermarkets?
2) Judging by the title, what could the text be about?

“So what did you say?” Jean heard the blonde woman in front of her
talking to her friend.
Supermarkets are much the same all over the world – especially the
queues at checkout points. There are always snatches of overheard
“Well,” the darker woman began, “I said I’m not having that woman
there. I don’t see why I should. I mean I’m not being old-fashioned but
I don’t see why I should have to put up with her at family occasions.
After all…” Jean noticed the other woman giving an accompaniment of
nods at the appropriate parts. They fell into silence and the queue
moved forward a couple of steps.
Jean felt her patience beginning to itch. Looking into her wire bas-
ket she counted ten items. That meant she couldn’t go through the
quick till but simply had to wait behind the elephantine shopping loads;
giant bottles of coke crammed in beside twenty-pound bags of potatoes
and “special offer” drums of bleach. Somewhere at the bottom, Jean
thought, there was always a plastic carton of eggs or a see-through tray
of tomatoes which fell casualty to the rest. There was nothing else for
it – she’d just have to wait.
“After all,” the dark woman resumed her conversation, “how would
it look if she was there when I turned up?” Her friend shook her head
slowly from side to side and ended with a quick nod.
Should she have got such a small size salad cream? Jean wasn’t
sure. She was sick of throwing away half-used bottles of stuff.
“He came back to you after all,” the blonde woman suddenly said.
Jean looked up quickly and immediately felt her cheeks flush. She bent
over and began to rearrange the items in her shopping basket.
“On his hands and knees,” the dark woman spoke in a triumphant
voice. “Begged me take him back.”
She gritted her teeth together. Should she go and change it for a
larger size? Jean looked behind and saw that she was hemmed in by
three large trolleys. She’d lose her place in the queue. There was some-
thing so pitiful about buying small sizes of everything. It was as though
everyone knew.
“You can always tell a person by her shopping,“ was one of her
mother’s favourite maxims. She looked into her shopping basket: indi-
vidual fruit pies, small salad cream, yoghurt, tomatoes, cat food and a
chicken quarter.
The blonde began to load her shopping onto the conveyor belt. The
cashier, doing what looked like an in-depth study of a biro, suddenly
said, “Make it out to J. Sainsbury PLC.” She was addressing a man who
had been poised and waiting to write out a cheque for a few moments.
His wife was loading what looked like a gross of fish fingers into a
cardboard box marked “Whiskas”. It was called a division of labour.
Jean looked again at her basket and began to feel the familiar regret
that visited her from time to time. Hemmed in between family size car-
tons of cornflakes and giant packets of washing powder, her individual
yoghurt seemed to say it all. She looked up towards a plastic bookstand
which stood beside the till. A slim glossy hardback caught her eye.
The words “Cooking for One” screamed out from the front cover.
Think of all the oriental foods you can get into, her friend had said. He
was so traditional after all. Nodding in agreement with her thoughts
Jean found herself eye to eye with the blonde woman, who, obviously
not prepared to tolerate nodding at anyone else, gave her a blank, hard
look and handed her what looked like a black plastic ruler with the

words “Next customer please” printed on it in bold letters. She turned
back to her friend. Jean put the ruler down on the conveyor belt.
She thought about their shopping trips, before, when they were to-
gether, which for some reason seemed to assume massive proportions
considering there were only two of them. All that rushing round, he
pushing the trolley dejectedly, she firing questions at him. Salmon?
Toilet Rolls? Coffee? Peas? She remembered he only liked the pro-
cessed kind. It was all such a performance. Standing there holding her
wire basket, embarrassed by its emptiness, was like something out of a
soap opera.
“Of course, we’ve had our ups and downs,” the dark woman con-
tinued, lazily passing a few items down to her friend who was now on
to what looked like her fourth Marks and Spencer* carrier bag.
Jean began to load her food onto the conveyor belt. She picked up
the cookery book and felt the frustrations of indecision. It was only
ninety pence but it seemed to define everything, to pinpoint her alone-
ness, to prescribe an empty future. She put it back in its place.
“So that’s why I couldn’t have her there, you see,” the dark woman
was summing up. She lowered her voice to a loud whisper which im-
mediately alerted a larger audience. “And anyway, when he settles back
in, I’m sure we’ll sort out the other business then.” The friends ex-
changed knowing expressions and the blonde woman got her purse out
of a neat leather bag. She peeled off three ten pound notes and handed
them to the cashier.
Jean opened her carrier bag ready for her shopping. She turned to
watch the two women as they walked off, the blonde pushing the trolley
and the other seemingly carrying on with her story.
The cashier was looking expectantly at her and Jean realized that
she had totalled up. It was four pounds and eighty-seven pence. She
had the right money, it just meant sorting her change out. She had an
inkling that the people behind her were becoming impatient. She no-
ticed their stacks of items all lined and waiting, it seemed, for starter’s
orders. Brown bread and peppers, olive oil and lentils and, in the centre,
a stray packet of beefburgers.
She gave over her money and picked up her carrier bag. She felt a
sense of relief to be away from the mass of people. She felt out of
place, a non conformer, half a consumer unit.
one of the UK’s leading retailers of clothing, foods and houseware. The com-
pany has 150 stores worldwide operating in 30 countries.
Walking out of the door she wondered what she might have for tea.
Possibly chicken, she thought, with salad. Walking towards her car she
thought she should have bought the cookery book after all. She sud-
denly felt much better in the fresh air. She’d buy it next week. And in
future she’d buy a large salad cream. After all, what if people came
round unexpectedly?

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. There were two people queuing before Jean.
2. One of the women before Jean was telling a story about her current relation-
ships to her friend.
3. Jean enjoyed overhearing other people’s conversations at checkout points in
4. Jean couldn’t go through the quick till because she had too many items.
5. Jean lived alone and always bought small size packages of food.
6. This time Jean felt embarrassed and went to exchange her small size salad
cream for a larger size.
7. Jean considered buying a cookery book but then decided against it.
8. The conversation Jean overheard made her feel uneasy.
9. Jean used to have a boyfriend but they had parted.
10. Jean left the supermarket in low spirits.

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. Jeans are not appropriate for a formal party.
a. fashionable b. allowed c. suitable d. prohibited

2. He stared at us with a blank expression on his face.

a. empty b. angry c. funny d. sad

3. The report pinpointed the areas most in need of help.

a. avoided b. dealt with c. showed exactly d. discovered

4. Both sides had suffered heavy casualties.

a. hard time b. accidents c. human losses d. material damage

5. The economy is poised for recovery.

a. too bad b. completely ready c. not ready d. in need

6. She often took care of stray cats.

a. fat and beautiful b. sick c. thin, underfed d. lost, homeless
II. Note that the words “load”, “change” and “process” can be both nouns
and verbs. Look up the meanings of these words as nouns and as verbs and il-
lustrate them with examples of your own. State in what meanings they are used
in the text.

III. British/American English.

In what country does the action take place? Find the words that helped you un-
derstand this.
Another word for “(shopping) trolley” is “(shopping) cart”. Which one is
British and which one is American?

IV. Find in the text the phrase which means Jean hesitated to buy the cookery

V. Natural English.
a) Note the use of the expression “I mean” in the 3d paragraph.
In spoken English it is very frequently used when the speakers elaborate, ex-
pand on or clarify what they are saying:
See what I’m getting at here? I mean, can you see the principle?
Speakers also use it for self-correction:
I know he’s Portuguese, I mean Brazilian, but he’s probably read quite widely
in Latin American literature.
Speakers use “I mean” when they hesitate. In this case “I mean” is often fol-
lowed by a pause and serves to soften the statements.
- What did you make of the match?
- Well, I mean, it was a bit too competitive.
* She’s a bit upset at the moment. I mean, erm,… she’s had a bad time recently
so I don’t really want to bother her.
Practice pronouncing example sentences with appropriate intonation.

b) Note the pattern with the word “considering”. We use it to introduce a nega-
tive fact that is important when we are judging something else (considering
how few/how little/ how rarely/ how often/ how late/ how many/ there were/
you had etc.) or to emphasize that something positive happened in spite of
many problems.
e.g. Considering how quickly we managed to get it finished, I think we’ve done
a pretty good job, really.
Considering how much I practice, I’m still not really good.
Now use the pattern with “considering” in two sentences of your own: one in-
troducing a positive and the other a negative fact.

VI. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if
necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) casualty 2) hardback 3) purse 4) queue

VII. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) to put up with smth; 2) to be sick (and tired) of smth; 3) (to have one’s) ups
and downs.
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. Where did Jean unintentionally overhear conversations?
2. What were the women before her talking about?
3. What products did Jean buy?
4. What did she see other people buying?
5. Why did the whole situation make her feel uneasy?
6. Why was Jean so observant while shopping for food?
7. What did she remember while queuing?
8. Did Jean want to buy the book “Cooking for One”?
9. What made Jean feel better?
10. Does the end of the story seem optimistic or not? Why?

Creative Follow-up Work

Find as many words and expressions related to the topics “supermarket”
and “food” in the text as you can. Use them to make up a short story of about
150 words. You can look back and add words from Texts 1 and 2.
This time you may tell about your own experience at a supermarket or to
think of an unusual or funny thing that may happen there.


by Clara Augusta
Before you read:
1) Have you (or has anyone you know) ever had an unpleasant experience
at the hairdresser’s?
2) Can you think of any recent fads in the sphere of style and fashion?

1 I am unfortunate enough to be the daughter of a hairdresser. My

father is an artist of the first water, who has the handsomest suite of
rooms in the city, does an  enormous business, and does the hair of all
the first ladies in town.
from American Hairdresser, July 1893
2 By birth he was a Connecticut Yankee, by the name of Peter
Jones, but since he set up in the hairdressing business he has been M.
Pierre de la Johannes.
3 My hair was kept short until I was fourteen; after that it was
not cut. At sixteen I rejoiced in a very luxuriant crop of dark brown
ringlets. It was at just that epoch that all the rage for false hair came
in. Everybody had hair on the brain. My father worked night and day
constructing curls, etc., and still the supply never equaled the demand.
4 Every woman's head ran to hair to such an extent that no won-
der naturalists were astounded and felt grave fears that there was to be
some sudden and radical change in the organization of the female sex.
5 The Bible tells us that we cannot make one's hair white or
black, but that assertion was written down before these days of patent
hair renewers, restorers, tonics and invigorators. I know people who
had white heads yesterday, and today are happy with hair as black as
the raven’s wing. I have seen black-haired women changed to golden-
haired blondes, and vice versa, all in the course of a week or less.
6 As soon as this infatuation in regard to hair commenced, my
father began to make experiments on my locks. Every new hairstyle
which came out was reproduced on my head. My hair was braided, and
twisted, and frizzed, and puffed, and left to hang loose, and then again
drawn so tight that I couldn't shut my mouth, and my forehead shone
like the sheepskin on the head of a drum.
7 I had a lover, but I never could have time to bring him to the
point, for he came evenings, and evenings my father always practiced
on my hair. My suitor did very nearly propose on one occasion, that is,
he got so far as to say he loved me, and wanted me to…
8 And here my father made his appearance, and marched me off
to the shop to have my hair dressed "a la Greeque."
9 Philip was very angry, and persisted in believing it was a con-
trived plan between my father and myself, and a fortnight afterwards he
married Ellen Hastings.
10 By and by father turned his attention to the manufacture of
restoratives and depilatories; all warranted efficacious, of course, "and
all of them had been faithfully tested by a member of the discoverer's
own family," meaning me.
11 Oh dear, how much I had endured from them. I had gallons of
restorers poured on my devoted head, I had smelled of lead, glycerine,
cayenne, sage tea, olive oil and beeswax, sulphur, nitrate of silver,

bergamot, bay rum, gum shellac, and only my scientific parent knows
that I had my hair burned with curling irons, bleached to red, and from
red changed to black, and from black to brown, and so on "ad infini-
tum." My head had been soaked for twenty-four hours in an alkali, for
the same length of time in an acid, and I had sat on top of the house in
the hot July sun to "bleach" until I felt like a mud pie baked on the
desert of Sahara.
12 Time passed on, and brought me a second sweetheart. George
Guild was his name. He was an extremely sensitive young man, a little
superstitious, and inclined to be unstable in most matters. But he was
good looking, and had some property, and we were engaged, with the
full consent of my parents.
13 At the time I promised myself to him I had black hair, just the
color he most admired, but two or three days afterwards my father took
it into his head to bleach my locks to auburn.
14 George came to see me. What a fearful change passed over him
as he looked at me! He grew pale as death, gasped, and acted as if he
had about made up his mind to swoon. Then, gathering his energies for
a final effort, he seized his hat and made for the door.
15 He did not come again, and I, sick with suspense, sent for him
and appointed a certain evening for the visit. The very day I expected
him father called me down to the shop just as I was going to dress to re-
ceive George.
16 He had a new restorer, and just as he was about to submerge
my head in the new concoction he was called away to dress Mrs. Mor -
gan's head for a ball. So he left Bob, his blundering assistant, to apply
the restorer. It was a most villainous smelling compound the boy plas-
tered me with, and as soon as the operation was over I hurried up to my
chamber and dressed. Then I descended to the parlor to await George's
17 My head felt strangely, and presently the scalp began to itch
and smart most intolerably. It grew worse and worse, until, at last, in
sheer desperation, I seized a brush, and applied it to my head.
18 Good heaven! The hair fell off in handfuls, and possessed by a
horrible sort of fascination, I stood there before the glass and brushed
until my head was as bare as a peeled onion!
19 And then the door opened and George Guild came in. He cast at
me one glance of horrified dismay, uttered a cry of alarm and fled from
the house. I heard the next day he had taken the train for California. A

letter, which he left behind, told me that he loved me, but he was satis-
fied that I had dealings with the Evil One, and therefore dared not link
his fate with mine.
20 For a week or two I cried most of the time after losing my hair
and lover. But now that time enables me to think calmly of the matter, I
do not regret the accident, for I have escaped the eternal manipulation
of my father.
21 I wear a wig, and have no desire that my hair shall grow faster
than it chooses to.

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. At first the narrator was happy that she was a hairdresser’s daughter.
2. The narrator’s father was a hairdresser of high rank.
3. The narrator’s father took a pseudonym when he set up in business.
4. At the time when the action took place hairdressing was all the rage.
5. At first the narrator asked her father to change her hairstyle.
6. Once the daughter refused to help her father in his experiments because she
was talking to her lover and the father got angry with her.
7. The girl’s first lover left her.
8. Her second fiancé disliked her hairstyle, though she herself liked it, so they
quarreled and parted.
9. The narrator’s father stopped experimenting with her hair because he went
10. The narrator’s father had a skilful assistant.

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. The motor industry is rejoicing in the cut in car tax.
a. declining b. joining c. is happy about d. assisting

2. He was right in his assertion that the minister had been lying.
a. suspicion b. statement c. article d. belief

3. The meeting is scheduled to commence at noon.

a. continue b. finish c. be resumed d. start

4. She tried to seize the gun from him.

a. turn b. grab c. steal d. point

5. She could not endure the thought of parting.

a. put up with b. keep away from
c. resist d. experience smth unpleasant

6. Your boots are covered in mud.

a. bag b. dirt c. leather d. polish

7. The concert was sheer delight.

a. doubtful b. slight c. complete d. incomparable

II. Find in the text:

a) an expression which means “the latest fashion”, “vogue”;
b) five names of chemical substances in Paragraph 11;
c) a phrasal verb which means “to walk in the direction of smth”;
d) another verb that means “to faint, to lose consciousness”;
e) an expression that means “the other way round”.

III. a) The words “supply” and “demand” can be both nouns and verbs. In the
text they are used as nouns. In what sphere are they often used as a set expres -
sion “supply and demand”? Give your examples with these words as verbs.
(Note: to supply smb with smth).
b) The noun and the adjective “grave” are homonyms, i.e. they have identical
spelling and pronunciation, but their meanings are different. Which word is
used in the text? What does it mean?

IV. The verb “to propose” can be used both transitively and intransitively. It
has different meanings in these cases. How is it used in the text (find the corre -
sponding sentence)? What does it mean?

V. The verb “to flee (fled – fled)” has the basic meaning “to leave”. What does
it mean exactly? In what situation can it be used?

VI. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) superstitious 2) infatuation 3) suspense
4) blunder 5) dismay 6) regret

VII. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) to set up in/a business; 2) to… (some /a great/ a certain/ a lesser)… extent /
to what extent…?; 3) to take it into your head (that…/ to do smth); 4) to be in-
clined to do smth; 5) in the course of.
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience.
Recounting and Interpreting Details
1. What was all the rage at the time when the action took place?
2. What kind of hairdresser was the narrator’s father?
3. What was the narrator’s hairstyle and why?
4. How did it happen that the narrator parted with her first lover?
5. What kind of person was her second fiancé?
6. Why did he leave the hairdresser’s daughter in spite of loving her?
7. Were the narrator’s lovers similar or different in terms of temperament,
judging by their reaction to the experiments with hairstyle?
8. What hairstyle did the narrator have at the end of the story and how did she
feel about it?
9. What was the narrator’s attitude towards the experiments with her hair
throughout the story?
10. Find: a pun in Paragraph 3; irony in Paragraph 5; a hyperbole in Paragraph
6; defeated expectancy in Paragraphs 7-8; similes in Paragraphs 11 and 18; an
extended enumeration (“a catalogue”) in paragraph 11; foreshadowing in Para-
graphs 12 and 16. (for any unfamiliar terms see the “Glossary of Literary
Terms”). For what purpose does the author use these figures of speech? Can
you find more examples of stylistic devices in the text?

Creative Follow-up Work

I. Find as many words and expressions related to the topic “hairstyles” in
the text as you can. Use them to make up a short story of about 150 words.
You may expand the list of words on the topic using a dictionary.
II. Tell the story shortly from the perspective of the narrator’s second fi-
ancé, George Guild.


by Carol Moore
Before you read
1) Find out essential facts about the author.
2) Who are “the pioneers” in the history of the USA?
3) What is an epilogue? What is it usually about?

It was a day like the day before and the day after. The wind wrapped
itself around the sod cabin in gusting moans as the pioneer family
within carried out their tasks pretending not to hear. They heard the
wind, however. It had been their constant companion on the open plains
since their journey from Philadelphia two years before in the spring of
1865. Following the covered wagon train of ten, the wind had lifted the

drab landscape into billows of dust falling on everyone and everything
until there seemed but one color and one sound.
Now Rachel sat on the bed hand-stitching a quilt while her mother
hunched over a sewing machine across the room rocking her feet back-
wards and forwards on a foot treadle that turned the shaft that moved
the needle. The thumping counterpointed the wind outside. Laughter
and giggling erupted from Rachel's younger brother and sister playing
jacks on the floor and it brought a smile to their sister's face, but when
she glanced back at their mother she stopped smiling.
Rachel felt that her parents worked too hard. They rarely had fun or
relaxation like they had enjoyed in Philadelphia. Now her father was al-
ways in the fields. Her mother prepared meals on a wood-stoked stove,
did the laundry on a washboard, baked flatbread and sewed clothes to
trade for goods in town. Rachel remembered her mother singing and
telling stories at one time but that was before she had begun complain-
ing about the wind and the dirt and the mud. Eventually she had
stopped complaining, but she had stopped singing, too.
The door swung open and it was Rachel's father. Entering in a puff
of dust, he coughed and wiped his forehead. "Mighty hot day out
"Well, I've got ale for you and flatbread too," replied his wife. She
rose from the sewing machine and began setting the table as her hus-
band eased himself into a chair.
"I know. I could smell it from outside. Smelled so good I came in
early. What else have you all been up to while I was clearing rows with
Molly and Bell?"
"Rachel's done with her quilt."
"Oh?" Rachel's father turned to look as his older daughter proudly
showed off her masterpiece. It was a cheerful blooming of color with
stitches outlining the squares.
"That's a mighty fine piece of work." He nodded. "How 'bout us go-
ing into town this Saturday? You can show off your quilt, your mother
can take her flatbread, and I've got a bushel of onions ready."
The young children whooped excitedly and Michael, the boy, began
dancing around the room, lifting his knees and clapping. There was rea-
son for jubilation. The 20-mile trip to town in the buckboard was a
once-a-month affair to which everyone in the family looked forward.
The town of Wausa, Nebraska was not unlike other little towns that
had sprung up to welcome the pioneers. It was a mix of old and new

buildings with wood plank sidewalks and a wide main street of dirt to
accommodate trains of oxen. In one of the newer buildings was the gen-
eral store. Guarding the door was a wooden Indian and next to it hung a
bird cage. The family stopped for a moment to look at the yellow bird
When they stepped into the store it was a universe all its own. There
was the scent of wood and soap and spice. The walls were lined with
racks of crates and mason jars, and along the aisles were bushel barrels
of potatoes and apples. In the back neatly propped against the wall were
bolts of fabric. While her brother and sister explored the store and her
parents spoke with the grocer about their bread and onions, Rachel
wandered back outside to look at the bird.
So bright a yellow it was a miniature piece of the sun in that dusty
place. It hopped from perch to perch rarely standing still and as it
hopped it kept its eyes on Rachel. Suddenly a shadow passed over the
girl and, startled, she looked up to see a Sioux Indian. Her heart beat
faster. Indians sometimes came to town to barter although it was dis-
couraged by the shopkeepers. Such a history of warfare existed be-
tween Indians and white settlers that no one felt safe. But this Indian
was as fascinated by the bird as Rachel. He stared intently and then
said something she couldn't understand. Seeing her puzzled face he re-
peated in English, "It listens to the wind."
Before Rachel could think about what he had said, the Indian turned
and walked away. Her parents appeared a moment later, having seen
him through the window.
"Are you all right?" asked her father.
Rachel nodded. "He was just looking at the canary."
At that moment the little bird lifted its head, swelled its chest, and
sang out a joyous trill. Rachel saw her mother's face light up with de-
Rachel traded her quilt for the canary and never regretted it because
the little bird entertained them endlessly. Sir Gallant, they called him
because he did battle with the wind. The louder the wind the more
loudly he sang, competition so fierce that sometimes everyone burst
out laughing. Sir Gallant lifted their spirits turning dust days back
into sunshine days.
Rachel thought about what the Indian had said. She'd heard the wind
but unlike the canary she'd never listened to it. Now when she tried she
could hear music in the moaning. Of course the music was faint and

hidden in the background and she needed her imagination, but it was
there if she truly listened. She began humming the sounds she heard.
"That's a pretty tune" her mother commented one day, "what song is
that?" Rachel didn't reply, unsure how to explain, and her mother didn't
press the question. Soon she, too, began humming.
Occasionally bachelor cowboys stopped by the cabin to buy flat-
bread or to have their clothes mended. They were always welcomed,
not for the money in their pocket but for their company. With no neigh-
bors for twenty miles, it was lonely on the plains. The family and
guests traded news, shared a meal, and were serenaded by Sir Gallant
who was often the center of conversation.
One afternoon the younger daughter Mary noticed the canary sitting
motionless on his perch. "Is Sir Gallant sick?" she asked in alarm.
"No. It's just a dark day outside," her mother reassured her. "It'll be
raining soon and he probably doesn't feel like singing."
The younger children accepted this explanation but not Rachel. She
knew that while Sir Gallant stopped singing from time to time, he had
always hopped about his cage. She went to the door and looked outside.
It was deathly quiet, no wind or sounds of birds or prairie dogs. She
saw the outline of her father with the two oxen in the north field and at
the same time she saw black thunderclouds stacked high into the sky.
There was a heaviness to the air and a prickly feeling.
The Indian's words echoed in her mind. "It listens to the wind."
Rachel thought about Sir Gallant's odd behavior and the angry thun-
derclouds and how strange it felt. Straining to hear, she caught a faint
rumbling and it was the sound of thunder.
Suddenly Rachel knew. She absolutely knew they were in danger.
"Mom," she shouted. "It's a tornado!"
Immediately Mary and Michael began screaming as their mother
gathered them up and, along with Sir Gallant, rushed outside. The
safest place was the root cellar at the side of the house. Throwing open
the cellar doors, the mother yelled to Rachel to warn her father.
Rachel took off running across the field shouting and waving her
arms, but not until she was halfway across did she get his attention.
"What's wrong?" he yelled.
It was another moment before she reached him. "Tornado."
His eyes searched the horizon. "I don't see anything, but I can bring
in Molly and Bell anyway. I'll come back to the house."

"No! There's no time. Listen!" Rachel was close to hysterical and
because she never lied or played tricks, he did as she asked. Finally able
to hear the rumbling he jumped to action. Releasing the yoke from the
harnesses on the oxen he turned them free and then grabbed Rachel's
arm and they began to run. By the time they reached the sod cabin, the
tornado was visible, rain drenched their bodies and a thunderous roar-
ing pounded the air.
The tornado lasted only minutes although it felt like hours. When
the family emerged from their shelter they were relieved to find their
sod cabin intact. Fortunately the oxen, too, had escaped although the
scarred earth proved the north field had been in the center of the tor-
nado's path. The loss of crops would make things more difficult, but
they felt blessed to be alive. They also felt divine intervention had come
in the form of a little yellow bird…
A woman stood in the door of the attic and sighed. Gray and dusty
in the half light, the room was filled with old furniture, boxes and a
thousand forgotten memories. She had inherited its contents from her
grandmother and now faced the chore of deciding the fate of each
piece. Attracted to an old sewing machine, so old that it had a foot trea-
dle, she opened the top drawer. Amidst the buttons and needles and
scissors was a tiny bundle of lace neatly tied with ribbon. Curious, she
picked it up and unwrapped it. To her surprise she found she was un-
folding the burial cloth of a canary, its body long ago dried up but care-
fully preserved. Holding it in her right hand she stared, perplexed, and
quite unconsciously put her left hand over her heart.
This story was inspired by an article I read in a magazine years ago.
Inheriting her grandmother's sewing machine (who had been a pioneer
in one of the plains states), the author of that article found the wrapped
body of a canary in one of its drawers. Intrigued, she had done research,
discovering just how much the pioneers had loved these little birds. The
article included the photograph of a prairie cabin with three cages of ca-
naries hanging from its eaves.

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. The pioneer family didn’t talk much to each other and were not very
2. Moving from Philadelphia changed the family’s lifestyle.
3. The children worked to keep up the family’s budget.
4. The father spent most of his time working in the field.
5. The trip to town was an event the whole family was looking forward to.
6. The family went to town for entertainment.
7. Rachel made friends with an Indian in the town.
8. The shopkeepers encouraged trade with the Indians.
9. Rachel bought a canary in the town.
10. One day the bird got sick.
11. The father didn’t believe Rachel when she warned him about the tornado.
12. The family’s oxen were killed in the tornado.
13. At the end of the story the family were desperate because they had lost
their crops.

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. We pretended that nothing had happened.
a. were sure b. acted as if c. claimed d. hoped

2. The scent of flowers filled the garden.

a. shrubbery b. great number c. smell d. flowerbed

3. Two fierce eyes glared at them.

a. aggressive b. tired c. beautiful d. small

4. The children watched, fascinated, as the picture began to appear.

a. bored b. scared c. very interested d. disappointed

5. We could hear their voices growing faint as they walked down the road.
a. distant b. loud c. weak d. excited

6. The odd thing was that he didn’t recognize me.

a. sad b. funny c. disappointing d. strange

7. We occasionally meet for a drink after work.

a. sometimes b. often
c. traditionally d. on important occasions

II. Find in the text

a) a synonym to the word “puzzled”;
b) three different verbs that mean “to give a loud cry”;
c) at least five words related to the topic “food”.

III. Note that
a) the words “face”, “scar”, “ease” and “echo” can be used both as nouns and
b) the word “faint” can be used both as an adjective and a verb;
c) the word “pretty” can be used both as an adjective and an adverb and has
quite different meanings in these cases;
d) the word “aisle” can be used both as a noun and an adjective.
Give your examples to illustrate all these uses.

IV. Look up the adjective “odd” and the noun “odds” in a dictionary. How
many meanings do they have? What new expressions have you found? Make
up one example with the adjective and one example with the noun or an ex-

V. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) to pretend 2) drab 3) to discourage 4) to regret
5) shelter 6) to inherit 7) unconsciously

VI. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) to be up to smth; 2) to look forward to smth/doing smth; 3) to keep one’s
eyes on smb; 4) to burst out laughing; 5) to lift/raise smb's spirits; 6) to feel
like doing smth; 7) to get smb’s attention.
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. What were the main problems the family had to face after moving to Ne-
2. Comment on the following characteristic of the mother “Eventually she had
stopped complaining, but she had stopped singing, too”.
3. What was the main monthly event for the family?
4. What were the relationships of the Americans and the Indians at the time
when the story took place? Prove it from the text.
5. Why was Rachel able to buy the bird?
6. What did the Indian tell Rachel about the bird?
7. Did the family like the bird? What name did they give it? How did it change
their life?
8. In what way did the Indian’s words help Rachel?
9. Why did the father pay attention to Rachel’s warning about the tornado?
10. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

Creative Follow-up Work
Do you know any stories of animals saving human lives?


by Nigel Balchin
Before you read:
1) What events do we call “incidents”?
2) Have you heard of any curious incidents connected with customs or
travelling by train?

Among the passengers travelling home by train from Florence there

was a certain Miss Bradley.
I only noticed her when passing down the corridor, because of her
really remarkable plainness. She was rather a large, awkward woman
of about thirty-five with a big, red nose, and large spectacles.
Later on, when I went to the dining-car, Miss Bradley was already
seated, and the attendant placed me opposite her.
I think we may have exchanged half a dozen words at dinner, when
passing one another the sugar or the bread. But they were certainly all
we exchanged, and after we left the dining-car, I did not see Miss
Bradley again until we reached Calais Maritime.
And then our acquaintance really began, and it began entirely on my
initiative. There were plenty of porters, and I called one without diffi-
culty from the window of the train. But as I got off, I saw Miss Bradley
standing on the platform with two large very old suitcases. The porters
were passing her by.
I am quite sure that had she been an even slightly attractive woman,
I would not have gone up to her, but she was so ugly, and looked so
helpless that I approached her, and said: "My porter has a barrow.
Would you like him to put your cases on it too?" Miss Bradley turned
and looked at me.
"Oh – thank you. It is very kind of you."
My porter, without great enthusiasm, added her luggage to mine;
and in a few minutes we found ourselves on board the Channel ferry.
Before the boat had been under way for ten minutes, I realized that
Miss Bradley was a remarkable bore. Shyly and hesitantly she kept on
talking about nothing, and made no remark worth taking notice of.
I learned that she had been in Italy a fortnight, visiting her sister
who was married to an Italian. She had never been out of England be-
I did not look forward to travelling to London with her for another
four hours, so excusing myself I went along to the booking-office on
board the boat and booked myself a seat on the Golden Arrow.
Miss Bradley was travelling by the ordinary boat train, so this would
mean that we should part at Dover.
At Dover I hired one of the crew to carry our luggage.
Normally, passengers for the Golden Arrow are dealt with by the
customs first, as the train leaves twenty minutes before the ordinary
boat train. When the boy asked if we were going on the Golden Arrow,
I hesitated and then said "Yes."
It was too difficult to explain that one of us was and one of us
wasn't, and then it would get Miss Bradley through the customs
As we went towards the Customs Hall, I explained carefully to her
that my train left before hers, but that I would see her through the cus-
toms; the boy would then take the luggage to our trains, and she could
sit comfortably in hers till it left. Miss Bradley said, "Oh, thank you
very much."
The boy, of course, had put our suitcases together on the counter,
and Miss Bradley and I went and stood before them. In due course the
customs examiner reached us, looked at the four suitcases in that hu-
man X-ray manner which customs examiners must practise night and
morning, and said, "This is all yours?"
I was not quite sure whether he was speaking to me, or me and Miss
Bradley. So I replied, "Well – mine and this lady's."
The examiner said, "But you're together?"
"For the moment," I said rather foolishly, smiling at Miss Bradley.
"Yes," said the customs man patiently. "But are you travelling to-
gether? Is this your joint luggage?"
"Well, no. Not exactly. We're just sharing a porter."
I pointed my cases out. I had nothing to declare, and declared it.
Without asking me to open them, the examiner chalked the cases and
then, instead of moving to my left and dealing with Miss Bradley,
moved to the right, and began X-raying somebody else's luggage.
The boy took my cases off the counter. I hesitated for a moment, but
then decided it was no use waiting for Miss Bradley since we were
about to part, so I said:

"Well, I'll say good-bye now, and go and find my train. I expect the
examiner will come back and deal with you next. The porter will stay
and bring our luggage up to the trains when you're through. Good-bye."
Miss Bradley said, "Oh... good-bye and thank you so much." We
shook hands and I left.
I found my seat in the Golden Arrow and began to read.
It must have been about twenty minutes later that I suddenly real-
ized the train was due to leave in five minutes and that the porter had
not yet brought my luggage. I was just going to look for him when he
appeared, breathing heavily, with my suitcases. I asked him rather an-
grily what he had been doing.
"The lady is still there," said the boy, "and will be for some time, I
think. They are going through her things properly."
"But why?"
"Well, they'd found forty watches when I came away, and that was
only the start, so I thought maybe you wouldn't want me to wait."
I have often wondered whether, when Miss Bradley stood so help-
lessly on the platform at Calais, she had already chosen me as the per-
son to come to her rescue, or whether she was just sure that somebody
Looking back, I think, she must have chosen me. I am fairly sure of
that though exactly how, I have never been clear. I am quite sure she
never made the slightest effort to make my acquaintance.

1. The narrator decided to help Miss Bradley at the railway station because
a. she was an acquaintance of his b. she looked helpless
c. she was an attractive woman

2. Miss Bradley was

a. about twenty-five years old b. about thirty-five years old
c. about fifty-five years old

3. Miss Bradley had

a. two suitcases and a bag b. two old suitcases c.three suitcases

4. Miss Bradley was

a. attractive, but boring as a conversation partner
b. not attractive, but an interesting person
c. neither attractive nor interesting to talk to

5. The narrator agreed to go through customs with Miss Bradley because
a. he was bored and wanted a fellow-traveler
b. he was attracted to her c. he was too polite to say no

6. The porter didn’t bring the narrator’s luggage for a long time
a. because there were problems when they X-rayed it at the customs
b. because Miss Bradley stole it and disappeared
c. because it was examined together with Miss Bradley’s luggage, which was

7. Miss Bradley’s luggage was stopped because

a. it was too large
b. there were expensive things she was trying to smuggle
c. there were weapons

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. He tried to dance but he was too clumsy and awkward.
a. stout b. tall c. ungraceful d. short

2. You rescued her from an embarrassing situation.

a. judged b. saved c. caused d. met

3. We thought that, since we were in that area, we’d stop and see them.
a. when b. later c. because d. then

4. Don’t be such a bore, let’s go and take part in the party!

a. shy person b. lazy person
c. unsociable person d. uninteresting person

II. What are the noun, the adjective and the adverb that have the same root as
the verb “to hesitate”? Use one of these words in an example of your own.

III. a) What can you exchange? Give an example. (Note: to exchange smth for
b) What/who can you hire? What for?

IV. a) Look up the word “plain” in a dictionary. What meanings does it have?
In what meaning is it used in the text? (There is a noun with this root in the
b) The sentence “I had nothing to declare, and declared it” is an example of a
pun. It is based on different meanings of the verb ‘to declare”. What are they?
V. a) Note that the word “point” can be both a noun and a verb. Look it up in a
dictionary. What new phrasal verbs and idioms have you found? Make up en
example to illustrate one of them.
b) Note that the word “part” can be both a noun and a verb. In what meaning
is it used in the text?

VI. Note the pattern “it is/was no use + V-ing”. It is used to say that there is no
point in doing something because it will not be successful or have a good re-
Make up an example of your own with this pattern.
NB. Mind the pronunciation of the noun “use” (voiceless [s] vs. voiced [z] in
the verb “to use”).

VII. Note how each of the following idioms and expressions is used in the text:
1) on one’s (own) initiative; 2) to shake hands; 3) in due course; 4) to be due
(+to V).
Now use each of these expressions in an example of your own. Try to relate
them to your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. Where did the narrator see Miss Bradley?
2. What did she look like?
3. Why did the narrator decide to help Miss Bradley?
4. What impression did Miss Bradley produce on the narrator when they went
by ferry together?
5. How did it happen that the narrator and Miss Bradley went through customs
6. Why wasn’t the narrator’s luggage delivered to him in time?
7. What did the narrator think about the whole incident later? Comment on the
last two paragraphs.
8. Find a word to describe Miss Bradley’s occupation.
9. What impression does the narrator produce on you? Use details from the
text to support your point of view. Why had Miss Bradley chosen him to take
her through customs?
10. What kind of person was Miss Bradley, to your mind?

Creative Follow-up Work

I. Imagine the events preceding this story. Tell about Miss Bradley’s plan of

II. Find in the text as many words and expressions related to the topics “travel-
ling by train” and “customs” as you can. Use them to make up a short story of
about 150 words.


by James Ross
Before you read:
Have you ever moved house? How did you feel about it?
If not, would you like to?

'That’s it then?'
2 I nodded, and Derek, the removal man, turned back to the van,
gave a wave to his driver and went to the back to lift the ramp, close the
hatch and seal up the contents of my previous life.
3 You don't really want removal men to be efficient and clean;
you want them to be burly, and surly, beer-bellied, with pie-breath and
greasy flat-cap. You want them to pause, rub their aching back and take
a sharp intake of breath.
4 You want chipped cups, splintered furniture, mashed boxes,
lost boxes. Delays. Traffic jams. Running over time. Running out of
time. You want stuff stored in the wrong rooms, too-heavy-to-move
tea-chests dumped in the passage, stuff left behind to be collected, or
not, three shame-faced weeks later, after seven increasingly irate phone
calls from the new homeowner. You want inefficiency, damage and
5 In fact, if you were in my position, you would want the removal
men to simply forget to arrive; you'd want the estate agent to lose the
contracts shortly before the exchange takes place; you'd want the utility
companies to forget to switch.
6 And you'd want your wife not to have left you.
7 Derek snapped shut the padlock on the back of the van, nodded
in my direction and walked round to climb into the passenger seat.
With a cough of blue smoke the diesel engine fired up and the driver
wasted no time in crunching it into gear and thrusting it out amongst
the blaring horns of midday London traffic. Some of what was in the
back of the van was coming with us to our new home, but a lot more
was to be dropped off at the auction house later. The way I felt at that
moment, it could have all been taken direct to a landfill.
8 This is not what I asked for, I told myself, as I slipped the door
keys into an envelope, sealed it and pinned the envelope to the wall just
inside the front door. Then I took one last look along the hall, past the
front room door, past the dining room door, to the kitchen, where we'd
breakfasted every morning for years, first as man and wife, and then
man and wife and child, and lately, as father and son. On impulse I
stepped back inside, walked along the hall to the kitchen door and took
one last look inside, imagining us some seven years ago, seeing again
the chaos of a young, happily married couple and their baby boy, eating
breakfast, getting ready for work, talking, being a family. I saw this pic-
ture in my head, felt the anguish of what I'd never have again, and after
I faced my grief, it faded. Quietly, almost reverentially, I closed the
door and, taking a purposeful deep breath, I walked back along and out
through the front door, turned and slammed it shut on my old life.
Feeling somehow lighter, I walked down the steps from what had
been my front door and across the road to the car, to where Danny was
sitting absorbed in his book. I opened the driver's door and got in.
'Ready for an adventure?' I asked him, fastening my seat belt, adjusting
the wonky rear-view mirror until it seemed prepared to stay in one po-
sition long enough for me to be able to ascertain that we weren't going
to be crushed by a speeding juggernaut* or a fire-engine while driving
along the Queen's Highway, and turned the ignition key.
He nodded, still looking at his book, 'Sure,' and reached over and
patted my hand.
'What's that for?' I asked.
He looked up at me, 'I'm on your side, dad. That's all.'
'You're eight. You don't get to be on someone's side at eight.'
He smiled knowingly, and went back to his book.
On the third attempt, the engine of our brand-new, seven-year-old
Fiat managed to fire up; I adjusted the mirror again, signaled and
pushed out into the traffic. We drove out of the street where we'd lived
for nine years without looking back. Though that could have been be-
cause the rear-view mirror had slipped down and sideways once more,
giving me a clear view of the passenger side dashboard air-vent.
'I like adventures,' Danny said, after about ten minutes.
I rubbed his hair, 'So do we all.'
'Don't muss up my hair,' he told me. 'It's got gel on.'
'It's ok.'
a very large multiaxle lorry/truck often used for international cargo trans-
'When did you start wearing hair gel?'
We drove south, across the river, and the traffic was lighter than
usual, this still being the school holidays. Danny looked up and asked,
'Where are we?'
'Adventure Country,' I told him.
A few minutes later he said, 'The sign says Peckham.'
Fifteen minutes later we turned into a cul-de-sac that contained a
row of large but fairly dilapidated Victorian houses surrounded on
three sides by large equally dilapidated blocks of 1960's neo-brutalist
social housing. Our apartment was in the basement of the house with
the removal van parked outside. I pulled up beside the removal van,
jerked on the handbrake, and turned off the engine. 'Come on,' I said.
Danny climbed out and went for a look round while I went to unlock
the door for Derek and his assistant. Then I went and sat on the wall
watching Danny running around.
From this vantage point, I could look up at the back doors and bro-
ken windows of the council flats opposite; I could count the satellite
dishes and scan the walkways and stairwells where, no doubt, the feral
underclass would prowl of an evening, dealing drugs, stealing phones
and stabbing each other.
Danny was running off some energy, exploring nooks and crannies
around the cul-de-sac, and I was letting the removal men do their job,
and the sun was setting behind a tower block.
'Don't go too far,' I shouted.
He ran over to me, 'What?'
'I said, don't go too far.'
I wanted to muss his hair but remembered his warning about the hair
gel, so instead asked, 'Well, what do you think?'
He looked around as the glooming evening spread from shadow to
shadow; streetlights were flickering on at random, doorways and cor-
ners beginning to look threatening. He looked back at me and whis-
pered, 'Bandit Country,' his eyes glittering, and then he ran off to ex-
plore some more.

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. The narrator was willing to move.
2. The narrator’s son was used to their old apartment and didn’t want to move.
3. The narrator’s son was a teenager.
4. While collecting their things for the removal the father wanted to procrasti-
5. They used to be a happy family, but the narrator’s wife left them.
6. The son loved his father more than his mother.
7. The narrator treated his son as a very small child.
8. The place where they moved was rather run-down and looked like a no-go
9. The boy liked the new place.
10. The narrator considered that the new place looked dangerous and did not
let the boy out of his sight.

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. For him dealing with irate customers was just a part of the job.
a. high-ranking b. odd c. special d. very angry

2. Tears of anguish filled her eyes.

a. offence b. severe pain c. sudden joy d. regret

3. There was a dilapidated pair of woman’s shoes on the porch.

a. lost, left behind b. very expensive
c. old, in bad condition d. of unusual design

4. His name was always mentioned in almost reverential tones.

a. full of fear b. neglectful c. full of respect d. derisive

5. He smirked unpleasantly when we told him the bad news.

a. replied b. looked c. spoke d. smiled

6. Could you ascertain that she will be coming to the meeting?

a. make sure b. promise c. doubt d. predict

II. a) The word “to prowl” has the basic meaning “to move around”;
b) the word “chipped” has the basic meaning “broken”.
Can you specify their meaning?
c) What is a “satellite dish”. What is it used for?

III. Note that the word “seal” can be both a verb and a noun (besides, there is a
homonym “seal”, a sea animal). In the text the word “seal” is used twice. In
what context?
IV. Note the frequent use of patterns “to take/give + Noun” instead of the cor-
responding verbs.
e.g. to walk  to take a walk; to look  to take a look; to decide  to take a
decision; to breathe in  to take a breath;
to smile  to give a smile; to yawn  to give a yawn etc.
The nouns in these patterns can be modified: e.g. to give a big smile; to take a
deep breath.
Other examples are:
to take a step /a walk; to take a look/a glance; to take a bite /a drink /a sip;
to give a smile/ a shrug/ a cry/ a kiss/ a yawn/ a laugh/ a sigh.
a) Change the following sentences from the text according to this pattern:
• He nodded, still looking at his book.
• I nodded, and Derek, the removal man, turned back to the van.
• Derek snapped shut the padlock on the back of the van, nodded in my direc-
b) Make up three examples with any of the above expressions; let the noun in
one of them be modified.

V. Note that the word “store” can be both a verb and a noun. In what meaning
is it used in the text? Give two examples with this word (as a noun and as a

VI. a) You can put, get or throw a car into gear. In the text the driver crunched
the van into gear. What does it mean in this context? What does the verb “to
crunch” mean?
b) Note that there is a noun “crunch” which is used with the definite article in
several idioms:
He always says he’ll help but when it comes to the crunch (=when it is time
for action or decision) he does nothing.
The crunch came when she returned from America.
In this context “the crunch” means “an important and often unpleasant situa-
tion or piece of information”.
Make up an example of your own with either of these idioms.

VII. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) vantage point; 2) to act/decide on impulse; 3) at random; 4) to fasten your
seatbelt; 5) to be absorbed in (one’s memories/ thought/ one’s book etc.).
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. What day of the narrator’s life is described in the story?
2. Why was the removal especially painful for the narrator? What did he do be-
fore leaving?
3. Comment on the Paragraphs 3-5.
4. What kind of family did the narrator have several years ago?
5. What kind of boy was the narrator’s son? Cite as many details from the text
as you can.
6. Did the father treat his son respectfully? Prove it.
7. Describe the area where the narrator moved with his son.
8. How did the boy feel about the new place?
9. What is the general tone of the story, to your mind? What details contribute
to it?
10. Find: several examples of repetitions in the text; a metaphor in Paragraph
2; a symbol in Paragraph 8; a paradox in the paragraph starting with the words
“On the third attempt…”; a symbol and anticlimax in the same paragraph. (for
any unfamiliar terms see the “Glossary of Literary Terms”). For what purpose
does the author use these devices? You may choose several examples and
comment on them.

Creative Follow-up Work

Find as many words and expressions related to the topics “driving” and “traf-
fic” in the text as you can. Use them to make up a short story of about 150


by Moose*
Before you read:
1)What animals or insects do you find repellent, if any? How do you feel
about mice?
2) Have you ever watched animals closely? Have you discovered anything

In the spring of 1999, I spent some time mountain biking in the

deserts of southern Utah. One night, I parked near a trailhead and was
going to sleep underneath the stars, but I sat in my car and wrote letters
before going to bed. I was near a canyon wall and I heard lots of small
rocks falling down the cliff. However, there were too many rocks fall-
ing and something seemed amiss about the whole situation.  “Hmm, I
wonder if the cliff is about to fall down” crossed my mind.  Then it
sounded like my foam sleeping pad was unfurling. Next it sounded like
rocks falling again, just that it sounded like too many rocks. Then the

Pseudonym of a webmaster.
sounds seemed to be coming from inside my car. It sounded like some-
thing rubbing against my sleeping pad. “Never mind.” I thought. I
turned off my flashlight to look at the stars. Next thing I knew I felt
something large crawl across my thigh. I jumped about a meter. This
manoeuvre was made a bit more difficult by the fact that the roof of
my car was only ten centimeters above my head.  I had no idea what it
was: a lizard, a mouse, or a snake? An intruder was inside my car.
I heard this thing crawling around and still had no idea what it was. I
opened all the doors to let it crawl out. I finally caught sight of it... it
was a mouse. I wasn’t exactly happy about this, but it was better than a
rattlesnake. I finally gave up on trying to get it out of my car and would
deal with it in the morning. I enjoy sleeping under the stars, so I went
outside for the night. I placed my food on the roof of the car. Usually
you would put your food inside the car to keep it from animals, but this
was a different case. I was lying on the desert floor and twenty minutes
later a mouse approached, but ran off when I moved my head to see it.
The next morning I cleaned everything out of my car and couldn’t find
the mouse, but did find some of my food that it had chewed on.
Two nights later I parked in the same spot. It was lightly raining off
and on, so I slept in my car and heard noises similar to the other night.
The mouse was back. I looked at my watch; it was 12:33 a.m.
I tried to figure out where the mouse was and open the door nearest
to it. I was poking around under the seats, but this didn’t work. I went
to sleep, deciding to live with it until the morning. Then I heard it
chewing on something. What it was chewing on, I didn’t know. Was it
electrical wiring, my backpack, biking clothes? I didn’t know and
none of these were good options. I had to get rid of the critter, but I
couldn’t harm it. It was just doing what mice do and I like mice after
all. I was unsuccessful in my efforts and the mouse would only move
around when the lights were off. I tried to go back to sleep again, but
the chewing continued to bother me. This happened several times. I
heard the mouse chewing on my bread and tried to catch it. The mouse
ran for it and disappeared under the driver’s seat.  Obviously, this
called for a plan...
I placed the bag so that if it were going to eat the bread, it would
have to climb into the bag. I would then grab the bag and ‘bag’ the
mouse. After a few minutes, the mouse climbed into the bag and was fi-
nally caught. I put him outside of my car and tried to get to sleep. It was
1:46 a.m.

It was so nice to have silence and not worry about my stuff. This
lasted twenty minutes until I heard something crawling around my car
again. I had no idea how the mouse was getting in and I've never had
problems with mice. This had to be the same mouse since it was able to
get into my car. I saw the mouse on the passenger floor. I jumped at it,
trying to catch it under a piece of plastic. It ran into the heating vents
and disappeared. I could then hear the mouse crawling around the ven-
tilation system for a while. This was really annoying, as it just seemed
to mock me.
Eventually the mouse crawled out of the vents. I saw it at various
places in the car. I made a diving leap for it over the seats and tried to
trap it under a jacket or corner it under the dashboard, but to no avail.
It always evaded me and seemed to do so without any difficulty. I con-
tinued to stalk him and tried a number of different tactics, but nothing
seemed to work. The mouse was always one step (scamper?) ahead of
My furry nemesis finally decided that it wanted more food and
started to poke around the bread. I set the trap again and finally caught
it after a ten-minute wait. This time I wouldn’t make the same mistake.
I got into the driver’s seat and drove a short way down the road, and let
him go. It really was a cute little guy. Whiskers, light brown fur, and
neat-looking black eyes. So a slightly disoriented mouse and a moun-
tain biker with a smile (from both amusement and the thrill of victory)
on his face parted ways. It was 3:36 a.m.
While the world goes on with its business, nations rise and fall, and
stars explode, I find myself in the desert, engaged in a three-hour and
three-minute pitched battle… with a mouse.

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. During the first night the narrator was scared because he was attacked by a
2. The narrator decided to change his parking place because there were stones
falling off the nearby cliff.
3. The narrator was displeased to see a mouse in his car.
4. The narrator placed his food on the roof of the car for the night and the
mouse couldn’t get it.
5. First the narrator wanted to kill the mouse.
6. The narrator caught the mouse with his bag.
7. The mouse got out of the bag and hid in the car ventilation system.

8. It wasn’t easy to catch the mouse with a jacket.
9. The narrator couldn’t trap the mouse either.
10. When the mouse was caught for the second time the narrator wanted to
take it home with him.

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. David looked at him not as if he were an intruder, but with curiosity.
a. stranger b. animal c. unwelcome visitor d. strange person

2. We heard the sound of an approaching car.

a. moving away b. coming near
c. making loud noise d. exploding

3. After the operation you may find it difficult to chew and swallow.
a. eat b. smile c. cough d. bite

4. We need to make a concerted effort to finish on time.

a. report b. attempt c. work d. demand

5. Her most annoying habit was eating with her mouth open.
a. irritating b. funny c. strange d. deep-rooted

6. You can mock, but at least I’m willing to have a try!

a. try b. stay away c. laugh d. be against

II. The word “to crawl” has the basic meaning “to move”. Can you explain
and illustrate the difference in meaning between these verbs?

III. Note that the words “trap”, “corner” and “wait” can be used both as
nouns and verbs. Give your examples to illustrate these uses.

IV. 1) The word “stalk” has several quite different meanings. What are they?
In what meaning is it used in the text? Illustrate these meanings with your own
2) The word “stuff” has several meanings. In what meaning is it used in the

V. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) manoeuvre (AmE maneuver) 2) backpack 3) eventually 4) to evade
VI. Consider the following sentence from the text “I wasn’t exactly happy
about this, but it was better than a rattlesnake”. In spoken English we use the
expression “not exactly” (or sometimes “not particularly”) to make criticisms,
generalizations or other statements softer (cf. Text 2, III, “tend to + Inf”),
though the expression “not exactly” is often ironic.
e.g. She's not exactly what you call stupid.
Think of the ways of putting the same thought in Russian.
Now think of your own example.
Note also that when used separately the expression “not exactly” stands only to
correct something that somebody has said (e.g. “So he told you you’d got the
job?” – “Not exactly, but he said they were impressed with me.”)

VII. Note how each of the following idioms and phrasal verbs is used in the
1) to be about to do smth; 2) to cross one’s mind; 3) to catch sight of; 4) off
and on (or “on and off”); 5) to figure out; 6) to get rid of; 7) after all; 8) to
call for; 9) to no avail; 10) to be/keep one step ahead of.
Now use each of these expressions in an example of your own. Try to relate
them to your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. What did the narrator do in the mountains?
2. Did he realize at once that there was a mouse in his car? What did he think
the strange sounds were?
3. What was the narrator’s reaction when he saw the mouse?
4. How did the narrator try to save his food?
5. The sentence “I would then grab the bag and ‘bag’ the mouse” is an exam-
ple of pun. What is a pun? This sentence shortly describes the narrator’s first
successful attempt to catch the mouse. How did he manage to do it?
6. At the beginning of the 5th paragraph the narrator refers to the mouse as “it”.
At the end of the same paragraph and later in the texts he refers to the mouse
as “he”. Comment on the use of pronouns. Find other characteristics of the
mouse given by the narrator.
7. When the narrator parked in the same place two nights later and saw a
mouse he said “This had to be the same mouse since it was able to get into my
car”. Do we know it for sure from the text or is it the narrator’s opinion?
8. When did it seem to the narrator that the mouse mocked him?
9. Can we call the mouse in the text a “character”, to your mind? Why/why
not? What makes a literary character?
10. In what way did the narrator get rid of the mouse?
11. Comment on the last paragraph of the text. What impression does the nar-
rator make on you as a person?
Creative Follow-up Work
I. Find as many words and expressions related to the topic “car” in the text as
you can. Use them to make up a short text of about 150 words. This may be an
advertisement or any story involving a description of a car. You may expand
the list of words on the topic using a dictionary.
II. Have you ever had any experience similar to the one described in the story?
What did you do?


by Angelica Gibbs
Before you read:
1) Have you passed a driving test? Did you pass it first time? If not, what
was the problem?
2) Have you ever had any funny/unpleasant experiences in cars?

On the afternoon Marian took her second driving test, Mrs. Ericson
went with her. 'It's probably better to have someone a little older with
you,' Mrs. Ericson said as Marian slipped into the driver's seat beside
her. 'Perhaps last time your Cousin Bill made you nervous, talking too
much on the way.'
'Yes, Ma'am,' Marian said in her soft unaccented voice. 'They proba-
bly do like it better if a white person shows up with you.'
'Oh, I don't think it's that,' Mrs. Ericson began, and subsided after a
glance at the girl's set profile. Marian drove the car slowly through the
shady suburban streets. It was one of the first hot days of June, and
when they reached the boulevard they found it crowded with cars
headed for the beaches.
'Do you want me to drive?' Mrs. Ericson asked. 'I'll be glad to if
you're feeling jumpy.' Marian shook her head. Mrs. Ericson watched
her dark, competent hands and wondered for the thousandth time how
the house had ever managed to get along without her, or how she had
lived through those earlier years when her household had been presided
over by a series of slatternly white girls who had considered housework
demeaning and the care of children an added insult. 'You drive beauti-
fully, Marian,' she said. 'Now, don't think of the last time. Anybody
would slide on a steep hill on a wet day like that.'
'It takes four mistakes to flunk you,' Marian said. 'I don't remember
doing all the things the inspector marked down on my blank.'

'People say that they only want you to slip them a little something,'
Mrs. Ericson said doubtfully.
'No,' Marian said. 'That would only make it worse, Mrs. Ericson. I
The car turned right, at a traffic signal, into a side road and slid up
to the curb at the rear of a short line of parked cars. The inspectors had
not arrived yet.
'You have the papers?' Mrs. Ericson asked. Marian took them out of
her bag: her learner's permit, the car registration, and her birth certifi-
cate. They settled down to the dreary business of waiting.
'It will be marvellous to have someone dependable to drive the chil-
dren to school every day,' Mrs. Ericson said.
Marian looked up from the list of driving requirements she had
been studying. 'It'll make things simpler at the house, won't it?' she said.
'Oh, Marian,' Mrs. Ericson exclaimed, 'if I could only pay you half
of what you're worth!'
'Now, Mrs. Ericson,' Marian said firmly. They looked at each other
and smiled with affection.
Two cars with official insignia on their doors stopped across the
street. The inspectors leaped out, very brisk and military in their neat
uniforms. Marian's hands tightened on the wheel. 'There's the one who
flunked me last time,' she whispered, pointing to a stocky, self-impor-
tant man who had begun to shout directions at the driver at the head of
the line. 'Oh, Mrs. Ericson.'
'Now, Marian,' Mrs. Ericson said. They smiled at each other again,
rather weakly.
The inspector who finally reached their car was not the stocky one
but a genial, middle-aged man who grinned broadly as he thumbed
over their papers. Mrs. Ericson started to get out of the car.
'Don't you want to come along?' the inspector asked. 'Mandy and I
don't mind company.' Mrs. Ericson was bewildered for a moment. 'No,'
she said, and stepped to the curb. 'I might make Marian self-conscious.
She's a fine driver, Inspector.'
'Sure thing,' the inspector said, winking at Mrs. Ericson. He slid into
the seat beside Marian. 'Turn right at the corner, Mandy-Lou.'
From the curb, Mrs. Ericson watched the car move smoothly up the
The inspector made notations in a small black book. 'Age?' he in-
quired presently, as they drove along.

He looked at Marian out of the corner of his eye. 'Old enough to
have quite a flock of pickaninnies, eh?'
Marian did not answer.
'Left at this corner,' the inspector said, 'and park between that truck
and the green Buick.'
The two cars were very close together, but Marian squeezed in be-
tween them without too much manoeuvering. 'Driven before, Mandy-
Lou?' the inspector asked.
'Yes, sir. I had a license for three years in Pennsylvania.'
'Why do you want to drive a car?'
'My employer needs me to take her children to and from school.'
'Sure you don't really want to sneak out nights to meet some young
blood?' the inspector asked. He laughed as Marian shook her head.
'Let's see you take a left at the corner and then turn around in the
middle of the next block,' the inspector said. He began to whistle 'Swa-
nee River*.' 'Make you homesick?' he asked.
Marian put out her hand, swung around neatly in the street, and
headed back in the direction from which they had come. 'No,' she said.
'I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania.'
The inspector feigned astonishment. 'You-all ain't Southern?' he
said. 'Well, dog my cats if I didn't think you-all came from down yon-
'No, sir,' Marian said.
'Turn onto Main Street here and let's see how you-all does in heav-
ier traffic.'
They followed a line of cars along Main Street for several blocks
until they came in sight of a concrete bridge which arched high over the
railroad tracks.
'Read that sign at the end of the bridge,' the inspector said.
'"Proceed with caution. Dangerous in slippery weather,"' Marian
'You-all sure can read fine,' the inspector exclaimed. 'Where d'you
learn to do that, Mandy?'
'I got my college degree last year,' Marian said. Her voice was not
quite steady.

The state song of Florida named after the river flowing through the state into
the Gulf of Mexico with many cotton and tobacco plantations in its valley.
As the car crept up the slope of the bridge the inspector burst out
laughing. He laughed so hard he could scarcely give his next direction.
'Stop here,' he said, wiping his eyes, 'then start 'er up again. Mandy got
her degree, did she? Dog my cats!'
Marian pulled up beside the curb. She put the car in neutral, pulled
on the emergency brake, waited a moment, and then put the car into
gear again. Her face was set. As she released the brake her foot
slipped off the clutch and the engine stalled.
'Now, Mistress Mandy,' the inspector said, 'remember your degree.'
'Damn you!' Marian cried. She started the car with a jerk.
The inspector lost his joviality in an instant. 'Return to the starting
place, please,' he said, and made four very black crosses at random in
the squares on Marian's application blank.
Mrs. Ericson was waiting at the curb where they had left her.
As Marian stopped the car the inspector jumped out and brushed
past her, his face purple. 'What happened?' Mrs. Ericson asked, looking
after him with alarm.
Marian stared down at the wheel and her lip trembled.
'Oh, Marian, again?' Mrs. Ericson said.
Marian nodded. 'In a sort of different way,' she said, and slid over to
the right-hand side of the car.

1. Mrs. Ericson valued Marian
a. more than her previous white maids b. less than her white maids
c. equally with the white maids

2. Mrs. Ericson accompanied Marian because

a. she did not trust her b. she was curious
c. she wanted to encourage her

3. Marian needed a license

a. for prestige b. for her work as a maid c. for her own business

4. The inspector treated Marian

a. politely b. disrespectfully c. objectively

5. Marian was
a. not educated b. self-educated c. a holder of a college degree

6. Marian failed in the test because

a. she made four mistakes
b. the inspector was prejudiced against her
c. she could not fulfil the most difficult task at the end of the test

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. It took him more than an hour to go to work from the suburban area where
he lived.
a. remote b. outside the centre of the city
c. in the centre of the city d. run-down

2. He found it demeaning to work for his former employee.

a. curious b. tragic c. boring d. humiliating

3. His comments were seen as an insult to the president.

a. praise b. address c. offense d. flattery

4. She’s flunked fourteen out of nineteen students.

a. examined b. made fail c. taught d. graduated

5. He didn’t show his wife any affection.

a. love b. emotion c. worrying d. sadness

6. He’s always been self-conscious about being so short.

a. aware of b. proud c. shy d. satisfied

II. Find in the text

a) a word that mans “reliable” which has the same root as the verb “to de-
b) at least three phrasal verbs. Illustrate one of them with an example of your
c) an expression that serves as a euphemism for the word “bribery”.

III. The word “to grin” has the basic meaning “to smile” and the word “to
creep (crept – crept)” has the basic meaning “to move”. Can you explain and
illustrate the difference in meaning, respectively?
Who/what can creep?

IV. a) The word “set” has numerous meanings as a verb, noun and adjective.
Find in the text two instances of “set” as an adjective. In what meaning is it

b) Note that the words “head” and “thumb” can be both nouns and verbs.
What do they mean as verbs (each has more than one meaning)? In what con-
text are they used in the story?
With what postposition is the verb “head” used?
Can you find any idioms with the verb “thumb” in a dictionary?
c) Note that the words “insult” and “permit” can be both nouns and verbs.
The stress pattern in these words changes depending on whether they are
nouns or verbs: in the nouns the first syllable is stressed whereas in the verbs
the stress is on the second syllable. Make up examples with these words as
nouns and as verbs.
What permits can one have?

V. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) homesick 2) to feign 3) permit (noun) 4) jerk

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. Who was Marian? What was Mrs. Ericson’s opinion of her?
2. Why did Marian need to take a driving test?
3. How did Marian feel before the test? Was it her first attempt?
4. In what case was the test generally considered a failure?
5. What impression did the inspector produce on Marian and Mrs. Ericson?
6. Did Marian make any mistakes during the test? Did she manage to fulfil all
the tasks?
7. How did the inspector behave during the test? How can you characterize his
manner of speaking? Give examples.
8. How did Marian behave throughout the test?
9. Why did the inspector “lose all his joviality” at the end of the test? What is
meant by “joviality” here?
10. Why did Marian fail in the test?

Creative Follow-up Work

Find as many words and expressions related to the topic “driving” in the text
as you can. Use them to make up a short story of about 150 words. You can
also look back and add words from Text 14.


by Simon Collings
Before you read:
Judging by the title, what are your anticipations concerning the text?

Manuel had passed the fish on his way up the road. It was eighteen
to twenty inches long and its silvery scales were covered with dirt. The
gill flaps opened like two gash wounds on the sides of its head as it
thrashed helplessly in the gutter. Next to it a boy leaned against the
railings, his rod and line dangling out over the floating garbage and the
stream of brown, stinking waste which trickled from a pipe in the wall
below. The boy wore a faded pair of football shorts. He was perhaps
nine or ten years old, barefoot and grubby, and his skin was marked
with insect bites.
The fish gasped, then made one last convulsive leap, throwing itself
in the direction of the river, and landed on the pavement with a thud.
There it lay motionless for a moment, exhausted no doubt by the effort.
The boy looked down at it, turned and kicked it back into the gutter.
Manuel had not paid much attention to the fish as he was preoccu-
pied. He had just been to look at an apartment and he was considering
how he could afford the rent. Accommodation was hard to find in the
city and a place like this didn't come up very often. The apartment he
and his wife were currently living in was so small their six-year-old son
had to live with his wife's parents during the week. They had been try-
ing to move for two years. He took out a cigarette and leaned against
the railing, looking down the street at the boy fishing.
Further along the quay two figures were approaching. He watched
as they wandered slowly towards him. They looked to be in their early
thirties and were obviously tourists. Americans he would guess. The
woman had shoulder-length reddish hair and pale freckled skin. She
was slim and athletic looking. Her partner was tall and flabby, his
stomach protruding from under his T-shirt. He wore knee-length shorts,
sunglasses and his long hair was tied in a pony tail. They came slowly
along the dusty street of warehouses. Tourists were not uncommon in
the city but they usually kept to the old port with its rococo churches
and stately customs house, or took the organized cruises along the reef.
It was rare to see them in this district and Manuel assumed they were
'Look at the poor thing,' said the woman, stopping beside the fish,
which lay where the boy had kicked it, probably now gasping its last
breaths. She spoke with a lazy, nasal drawl. The boy had not turned
around but he had noticed their presence. He stared fixedly across the
glittering surface of the water towards the lines of washing in the nar-
row streets on the opposite bank, waiting for them to go.

'It ought to be thrown back,' the woman was saying. 'Do you think
he wants it?' She turned to her companion who shrugged. He looked
'I don't like the look of this neighborhood,' he said. 'I think we
should get back.' But the woman wasn't going to let it pass. She stood
there looking from the fish to the boy and back again.
'You could try asking him,' the man said. The woman stepped
around the fish and approached the boy, who was still looking out
across the river. The child's body tensed as the woman came up to him.
'Do you know that fish is dying?' Manuel heard her ask. The boy
looked up at her blankly and then shook his head. 'Dy-ing,' she re-
peated, drawing out each syllable, but the boy remained dumb, uncom-
prehending. He fidgeted awkwardly with his feet.
'I don't think he understands,' said the woman to her partner. The
man shrugged as if to say 'I told you we shouldn't get involved.' She
looked around for assistance and noticed Manuel watching her. She
stared at him for a moment, taking in the cream-coloured linen suit, the
shoes. She was obviously unsure what to make of him.
'Do you speak English?' she asked, this time with a more respectful
tone than she had used with the boy. Manuel said that he did but in a
voice which gave her no reason to expect his help. She held his gaze for
a few moments.
'Can you ask this boy what he means to do with the fish? It seems so
cruel, it ought to be thrown back.' He looked across at the boy and then
at the woman. He wondered if he should tell her about the kind of life
this boy led, about the squalid shacks down by the beach from where he
had probably come that morning, about the parents struggling to make
ends meet. Two days earlier he had read in the local paper about a fish-
ing community a few miles up the coast which was being evicted to
make way for a new hotel. The boy was watching them anxiously.
'Esta senhora quer saber o que você vai fazer com o peixe *,' he said
to the boy. He treated the boy gently, with consideration. The boy
wiped a dirty hand across one eye and looked at Manuel.
'E para vender†,' he responded.
'He intends to sell it,' he told the woman. He tried to make his an-
swer sound final, as though that was the end of the matter. The woman
hesitated, perhaps uncertain how to interpret the lack of encouragement
(Port.) This lady wants to know what you are going to do with the fish.

(Port.) It’s for sale.
in his voice. Manuel observed her confusion. Her eyes searched his face
as though looking for some clue. Her companion shifted nervously be-
hind her.
'Honey, I think we should go,' he said. But the woman ignored him.
He shuffled uncomfortably. 'You know I really don't think you should
'How much does the boy want for the fish?' the woman asked.
Manuel glanced at her companion with his stooped shoulders and use-
less bulk. The woman's determination amused him but he did not
'A senhora quer comprar o peixe. Quanto e?*' The boy named a
price which was five times what he would have got for it locally. His
expression was deadpan. Only a slight clenching of his right hand be-
trayed the tension he was probably feeling. Manuel told her the price,
adopting the same tone of voice with which he had addressed her previ-
ously, but this time he could not help smiling. She seemed to interpret
this as friendliness. She opened her purse and took out some money,
peeling off a note of twice the value the boy had asked.
'Does he have any change?' she asked.
Manuel translated. Again the boy's right hand twitched slightly but
otherwise his face wore the same expression of innocence it had before.
He shook his head. The woman hesitated for a moment and looked
across at the fish. Then she held out the note to the boy who took it. She
stooped down, picked the fish up carefully between forefinger and
thumb and threw it into the river. Without looking at either Manuel or
the boy she turned to her companion and they went on up the road to-
gether. The man produced a handkerchief and offered it to the woman
to wipe her fingers but she refused it. They appeared to be arguing. The
boy stood holding the note. His expression had hardly changed. Manuel
watched the couple until they disappeared out of sight. They did not
once look back. He lit another cigarette and returned to his former posi-
tion against the railings.
The fish had not survived its lengthy time out of the water and was
now floating amidst the debris a few feet out from the bank, washed in
against the shore by the backward eddy of the current. The boy climbed
over the railings and down onto a ledge just above the water line. He
began dragging the dead fish towards him with a stick. When it was fi-
nally within reach he caught hold of it and tossed it up onto the road.
(Port.) This lady wants to buy the fish. How much is it?
As he clambered over the railings he grinned at Manuel. The boy gath-
ered up his rod and the fish and set off up the street. Manuel watched
him while he finished his cigarette. Then he threw the butt down into
the dirty water and made his way back the way he had come.

1. The city where the action takes place
a. was not popular with tourists b. was rather popular with tourists
c. was almost never visited by tourists

2. The boy caught the fish

a. to cook it b. to sell it c. to play with it

3. Manuel was
a. rather well off b. homeless c. hard up

4. The boy had no money because

a. he had no parents b. his parents were very poor
c. his parents treated him badly and didn’t give him any

5. The female tourist paid for the fish

a. two - b. five - c. ten times what the boy would have got for it locally

6. Her husband
a. supported her actions b. disapproved of her actions
c. didn’t care what she was doing

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. When the climbers reached the top they were exhausted.
a. very happy b. very hungry c. very tired d. very enthusiastic

2. He’s got flabby since he gave up running.

a. weak b. fat c. thin d. unhealthy

3. While he was speaking his expression was deadpan.

a. mean b. funny c. angry d. without emotion

4. The company intends a slow-down in expansion.

a. plans b. fears c. avoids d. predicts

5. It is reasonable to assume that the economy will continue to improve.

a. hope b. doubt c. think d. agree

6. Obviously, they don’t want to spend too much money.

a. maybe b. unfortunately c. surely d. evidently

II. The nouns “scale(s)”, “shift” and “line” all have several meanings which
are quite different. Look up their meanings in a dictionary. Point out the mean-
ings in which they are used in the text. What nouns can also be used as verbs?
Illustrate any of the meanings of each word with your own examples (make up
three sentences).

III. The words “to stare” and “to gaze” basically have the same meaning (“to
look”). Can you explain and illustrate the difference in meaning between

IV. Note that the words “leap”, “bite” and “wound” can be both nouns and
verbs. Look up the meanings of these words as nouns and as verbs and illus-
trate them with examples of your own.

V. a) One of the meanings of the suffix –ish in adjectives is “a low intensity of

a quality”. It is often added to the names of colours.
What word with this suffix can you find in the text?
What words do you get if you add this suffix to other names of colours (yel-
low, green, grey, brown, black, blue, white, pink)?
These adjectives are helpful when describing something of uncertain colour.
E.g. greyish eyes.
Think of an example of your own.
b) The suffix –ish can also be used to describe the age of a person approxi-
mately. E.g. He looks thirtyish.
In the text the age of the tourists is not stated. What expression is used to de-
scribe their age?

VI. Note that the verb “try” is used twice in the text in different combinations:
1) They had been trying to move for two years. = They had been making an ef-
fort to move.
2) 'You could try asking him,' the man said. = You could do it and see if asking
him will help you.
Make sure you understand the difference. Now illustrate it with examples of
your own.

VII. In what meaning is the verb “mean” used in the following sentence from
the text?
Can you ask this boy what he means to do with the fish?
How can you paraphrase it?

VIII. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) to fade 2) to stink 3) thud 4) to shrug
5) to fidget 6) clue 7) bulk 8) drawl

IX. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) to make smth of smb/smth; 2) to make (both) ends meet; 3) to make way for
smth/smb; 4) can’t help doing smth; 5) to be within reach (opposite: to be out
of reach).
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate them to
your own experience.

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. What did the boy want to do with the fish?
2. Why did the woman want to buy the fish?
3. Why did her husband feel uncomfortable throughout the episode?
4. What was Manuel’s attitude towards the tourists? Find details in the text to
support your point of view.
5. First Manuel didn’t smile while speaking with the woman and later he
started smiling. Why? Was he being friendly? Find the corresponding para-
graph and comment on it.
6. When the couple went away from the boy they seemed to be arguing. What
might they argue about?
7. What can you say about Manuel? What is his role in the story?
8. The woman in the story performed a kind act: she gave some money to the
boy and tried to save the fish. Does the narrator seem to support her? Find as
many details to prove your point of view as you can.
9. The story begins and ends with the same fish being caught. What is the
function of this “frame” composition?
10. Look up the meaning of the term “leitmotif” in the Glossary of Literary
Terms. Can you find any leitmotif in the story? What words impart a certain
mood to this story?

Creative Follow-up Work

Tell the story shortly from Manuel’s perspective. Think of “asides” (remarks)
that he might pronounce as the tourists were approaching or as they were walk-
ing away.


by Evelyn Waugh
Before you read:
1) Find out essential facts about the author.
2) Judging by the title, what could the text be about?

(1) S.S. Glory of Greece*

Well I said I would write and so I would have only goodness it was
rough so I didn’t. Now everything is a bit more all right so I will tell
you. Well as you know the cruise started at Monte Carlo and when papa
and all of us went to Victoria we found that the tickets didn’t include
the journey there so Goodness how furious he was and said he
wouldn’t go but Mum said of course we must go and we said that too
only papa had changed all his money into Liri or Franks on account of
foreigners being so dishonest but he kept a shilling for the porter at
Dover being methodical so then he had to change it back again and that
set him wrong all the way to Monte Carlo and he wouldn’t get me and
Bertie a sleeper and wouldn’t sleep himself in his through being so an-
gry Goodness how Sad.
Then everything was much more all right the purser called him
Colonel and he likes his cabin so he took Bertie to the casino and he
lost and Bertie won and I think Bertie got a bit plastered at least he
made a noise going to bed he’s in the next cabin as if he were being
sick and that was before we sailed. Bertie has got some books on
Baroque art on account of his being at Oxford.
Well the first day it was rough and I got up and felt odd in the bath
and the soap wouldn’t work on account of salt water you see and came
into breakfast and there was a list of so many things including steak and
onions and there was a corking young man who said we are the only
ones down may I sit here and it was going beautifully and he had steak
and onions but it was no good I had to go back to bed just when he was
saying there was nothing he admired so much about a girl as her being
a good sailor goodness how sad.
The thing is not to have a bath and to be very slow in all move-
ments. So next day it was Naples and we saw some Bertie churches and
then that bit that got blown up in an earthquake and a poor dog killed
they have a plaster cast of him goodness how sad. Papa and Bertie saw
some pictures we weren’t allowed to see and Bill drew them for me af-
the name of the ship.
terwards and Miss P. tried to look too. I haven’t told you about Bill and
Miss P. have I? Well Bill is rather old but clean looking and I don’t
suppose he’s very old not really I mean and he’s had a very disillusion-
ary life on account of his wife who he says I won’t say a word against
but she gave him the raspberry with a foreigner and that makes him
hate foreigners. Miss P. is called Miss Phillips and is lousy she wears a
yachting cap and is a bitch. And the way she makes up to the second of-
ficer is no one’s business and it’s clear to the meanest intelligence he
hates her but it’s part of the rules that all the sailors have to pretend to
fancy the passengers. Who else is there? Well a lot of old ones. Papa is
having a walk out with one called Lady Muriel who knew uncle Ned.
And there is a honeymoon couple very embarrassing. And a clergyman
and lots of families from the industrial north.
So Bertie sends his love too. Mum bought a shawl and an animal
made of lava.
This is a picture of Taormina. Mum bought a shawl here. Very
funny because Miss P. got left as she’d made chums only with second
officer and he wasn’t allowed ashore so when it came to getting into
cars Miss P. had to pack in with a family from the industrial north.
(2) S.S. Glory of Greece
Hope you got postcard from Sicily. The moral of that was not to
make chums with sailors though who I’ve made a chum with is the
purser who’s different on account he leads a very cynical life with a
gramophone in his cabin and as many cocktails as he likes and welsh
rabbits sometimes and I said but do you pay for all these drinks but he
said no so that’s all right.
So we have three days at sea which the clergyman said is a good
thing as it makes us all friendly but it hasn’t made me friendly with
Miss P. who won’t leave poor Bill alone not taking any more chances
of being left alone when she goes ashore. The purser says there’s al-
ways someone like her on board in fact he says that about everyone ex-
cept me who he says quite rightly is different goodness how decent.
So there are deck games they are hell. And the day before we reach
Haifa there is to be a fancy dress dance. Papa is very good at the deck
games especially one called shuffle board and eats more than he does in
London but I daresay its all right. You have to hire dresses for the ball
from the barber I mean we do not you. Miss P. has brought her own. So

I’ve thought of a very clever thing at least the purser suggested it and
that is to wear the clothes of one of the sailors I tried his on and looked
a treat. Poor Miss P.
Bertie is madly unpopular, he won’t play any of the games and be-
ing plastered the other night too and tried to climb down a ventilator
and the second officer pulled him out and the old ones at the captains
table look askance at him. New word that. Literary yes? No?
This is a photograph of the Holy land and the famous sea of Galilee.
It is all very Eastern with camels. I have a lot to tell you about the ball
and will write very soon. Papa went off for the day with Lady M. and
came back saying enchanting woman Knows the world.
(3) S.S. Glory of Greece
Well the Ball. We had to come in to dinner in our clothes and every-
one clapped as we came downstairs. So I was pretty late on account of
not being able to make up my mind whether to wear the hat and in the
end did and looked a corker. Well it was rather a faint clap for me so
when I looked about there were about twenty girls and some women all
dressed like me so how cynical the purser turns out to be. Bertie looked
horribly dull as an apache. Mum and Papa were sweet. Miss P. had a
ballet dress from the Russian ballet which couldn’t have been more un-
suitable so we had champagne for dinner and were jolly and they threw
paper streamers and I threw mine before it was unrolled and hit Miss P.
on the nose. Ha ha. So feeling matey I said to the steward isn’t this fun
and he said yes for them who haven’t got to clear it up goodness how
Well of course Bertie was plastered and went a bit far particularly in
what he said to Lady M. then he sat in the cynical purser’s cabin in the
dark and cried so Bill and I found him and Bill gave him some drinks
and what do you think he went off with Miss P. and we didn’t see either
of them again it only shows into what degradation the Demon Drink
can drag you him I mean.
Will send a postcard of Sphinx.
This is the Sphinx. Goodness how Sad.
This is temple of someone. Darling I can’t wait to tell you I’m en-
gaged to Arthur. Bertie thinks Egyptian art is very inartistic.

This is Tutankhamen’s very famous Tomb. Bertie says it is vulgar
and is engaged to Miss P. so he’s not one to speak and I call her Mabel
now. Goodness how Sad. Bill won’t speak to Bertie Robert wont speak
to me Papa and Lady M. seem to have had a row there was a man with
a snake in a bag also a little boy who told my fortune which was very
prosperous Mum bought a shawl.
Saw this Mosque today. Robert is engaged to a new girl called
something or other who is lousy.
(4) S.S. Glory of Greece
Well so we all came back from Egypt pretty excited and the cynical
purser said what news and I said news well I’m engaged to Arthur and
Bertie is engaged to Miss P. and she is called Mabel now which is hard-
est of all to bear I said and Robert to a lousy girl and Papa has had a
row with Lady M. and Bill has had a row with Bertie and Robert’s
lousy girl was awful to me and Arthur was sweet but the cynical purser
wasn’t a bit surprised on account he said people always get engaged
and have quarrels on the Egyptian trip every cruise so I said I wasn’t in
the habit of getting engaged lightly thank you and he said I wasn’t ap-
parently in the habit of going to Egypt so I won’t speak to him again
nor will Arthur.
All love.
(5) S.S. Glory of Greece
This is Algiers not very eastern in fact full of frogs. So it is all off
with Arthur but who I am engaged to is Robert which is much better for
all concerned. Robert and I drove about all day in the Botanic gardens.
Bertie got plastered and had a row with Mabel – Miss P. again. Mum
bought a shawl.
I forget what I said in my last letter but if I mentioned a lousy man
called Robert you can take it as unsaid. This is still Algiers and Papa
ate dubious oysters but is all right. Bertie went to a house full of tarts
when he was plastered.

So now we are back I kissed Arthur but won’t speak to Robert and
he cried not Robert I mean Arthur so then Bertie apologized to most of
the people he’d insulted but Miss P. walked away pretending not to
hear. Goodness how sad.

1. The young lady who wrote the letters went on a cruise with
a. her family b. her fiancé c. her family and some acquaintances

2. One of the most interesting events for the young lady during the cruise was
a. visiting Tutankhamen’s tomb b. fancy dress dance
c. breakfast with a young man

3. During the cruise the young lady

a. got engaged to a young man
b. got engaged twice
c. got engaged three times and was planning to get married

4. The young lady described the purser as

a. a corking young man b. cynical c. madly unpopular

5. Among the cruisers the one who was more or less interested in sightseeing
a. Bertie b. the young lady herself c. Miss P.

6. The cruiser that the young lady disliked most was

a. Bertie b. Miss P. c. the purser

7. The cruiser who seemed to dislike the whole thing most was
a. the young lady herself b. Arthur c. Bertie

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. He was furious with himself for letting things get so out of control.
a. disappointed b. satisfied c. very angry d. surprised

2. Farmers are more prosperous in the south of the country.

a. independent b. poor c. numerous d. successful

3. He was wearing shoes that were totally unsuitable for climbing.

a. incomparable b. not appropriate c. convenient d. ridiculous

4. What lousy weather! (informal)
a. fine b. awful c. rainy d. foggy

5. The family found the new house enchanting.

a. comfortable b. warm c. very pleasing d. not satisfactory

6. They indulged in some highly dubious business practices to obtain their

current position in the market.
a. efficient b. suspicious c. innovative d. illegal

II. The adjectives “mean” and “odd” have several meanings. In what meaning
are they used in the text?

III. a) Note that the words “treat” and “bear” can be both nouns and verbs
and have quite different meanings in each case. Give your examples to illus-
trate these uses. In what meanings are they used in the text?
The word “treat” is used figuratively. What does it mean in this context?
b) The word “fancy” can be both a verb and an adjective. In the text it is used
twice. In what context and in what meanings is it used?

IV. Note that in English there are two words that are spelt “row”. They have
different meanings and are pronounced differently ([rəu] and [rau]). They are
called homographs. What do they mean? Which word is used in the text? How
should it be pronounced?

V. Note the pattern with the word “thing” in the following sentence: “The
thing is not to have a bath and to be very slow in all movements.” The expres-
sion “the thing (about/with smb/smth) is…” is used to introduce a problem
about smth/smb.
Use this pattern in a sentence of your own. Try to give advice or share your
own experience.

VI. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary: 1) earthquake 2) fancy dress

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. Who are the characters and what are their relations?
2. What places do they visit during the cruise?
3. Do we get much information about the sights? Why?
4. Can you reconstruct the sequence of events: a) in terms of sightseeing; b) in
terms of the relationships among the cruisers?
5. What is Bertie’s occupation?
6. How did the cruisers entertain themselves?
7. What changed in their relationships during the cruise?
8. How can you describe the atmosphere on board the ship?
9. Why are there almost no punctuation marks in the story? (you may state
more than one reason)
10. Imagine the writer of the letters. What information can you draw about her
from these letters? Give your reasoning. You may reconstruct any missing de-
tails to outline her personality. Comment on the style of the letters. Does the
vocabulary used in the story illustrate your point of view?
11. Look through the types of narrators in the “Glossary of Literary Terms”.
What is the type that suits best to describe the young lady from the story?
12. Can you describe any other characters taking into consideration the type of
narrator (e.g. Bertie, Mother, the purser)?
13. Comment on the purser’s words as reported by the young lady in Letter 4.
How do these words relate to what she’s writing in Letter 5?

Creative Follow-up Work

I. Choose a paragraph of no less than six lines and insert punctuation marks as
you consider appropriate.
II. Tell the story briefly from Bertie’s perspective. You may choose the
episode with the fancy dress dance.


by Irwin Shaw
Before you read:
1) Find out essential facts about the author.
2) What qualities are essential if one wants to become a film star? Have
they changed over the last decades?

She was not spectacular-looking, but she seemed to shine with

springtime health. She was small, blond, with a neat-brushed head and
deep-blue eyes, and her movements were plain and unaffected, and as
she talked her eyes did not flicker hungrily over the room. She had a
slender throat that rose out of the high collar of her dress, and her
mouth, which had only a light touch of lipstick on it, seemed almost
childish and delicately gay. She gave the impression of being frail, in-
nocent, and very young.
When, like almost every pretty girl around the theatre, she was of-
fered a screen test, she worked hard on it and was not displeased with
the result when she saw it on the screen. The man who had arranged the
test and who sat in the projection room with her when it was shown,

was impressed, too. But he was an old man who had been in the busi-
ness a long time and he had seen many pretty and talented girls.
“Very good,“ he said, “very good, indeed, Miss Hunt.” He had a
soft, polite voice and courtly manners, and he was used to discourag-
ing hungry young people in the gentlest, most assuaging way. “But
there would be objections on the Coast* to the present nose.”
“What?” Carol asked, surprised and a little hurt. She was proud of
her nose and thought in some ways it was her best feature. It was quite
long and a little arched, with tense, nervous-looking nostrils, and an
artistic young man who had been attached to her had once told her it
was like the noses of the great English beauties of the portraits of the
eighteenth century. By a trifle, a shadow, it seemed to deviate to one
side, but one had to study her face to realize this, and the slight irregu-
larity gave, she was sure, an added note of interest to her face. “What’s
wrong with the nose?” she asked.
“It’s a little long for film, my dear,” the old man said gently, “and
you and I know, don’t we, that it is not plumb straight. It is a lovely
nose, and one you could be proud of all the days of your life,” the old
man went on, smiling, honeying the harsh, official, impersonal truth
with his own sweet-tempered, but personal and therefore finally value-
less truth, “but the American public is not quite used to seeing young
girls on film with noses of that particular quality.”
“I could name you six stars,” Carol said stubbornly, “with noses a
lot funnier-looking than mine.”
The old man smiled and shrugged, “Of course, my dear,” he said.
“But they are stars. They are personalities. The public accepts a person-
ality all in one lump. If you were a star, we would assign publicity men
to write poems to your nose. In a little while, it would be a priceless as-
set. When an unknown girl came into the office, we would say, ‘Look,
she has the Hunt nose. Let’s hire her at once.’”
He smiled at her again, and she couldn’t help smiling back, warmed,
even at the moment of disappointment, by his absurd, gentle manner.
“Well,” she said, getting up, “you’ve been very kind.”
But the old man did not rise. He sat in the big leather chair, his hand
absently touching the controls of the box that communicated with the
operator in the projection booth, staring thoughtfully at her, doing the
job he was paid to do. “Of course,” he said, “something could be done.”
“What do you mean?” Carol asked.
the Pacific coast of North America.
“Noses,” the old man said, “while works of God, are susceptible to
the intervention of man.”
Now Carol saw he was embarrassed by what he was forced by his
position to say, and was using this high-flown and rhetorical fashion of
speaking to show her he was embarrassed. She was certain there were
very few actors or actresses who could embarrass this hard, gentle old
man, and she was flattered by it.
“A plastic surgeon,” the old man was saying, “a little snip here, a lit-
tle scraping of bone there, and in three weeks you could almost be guar-
anteed a nose that would meet with anyone’s approval.”
“You mean,” Carol said, “in three weeks I could have the standard,
regulation-issue starlet’s nose.”
The old man smiled sadly. “More or less,” he said.
“And what would you do then?”
“I would sign you to a contract,” the old man said, “and I would pre-
dict quite a promising future for you on the Coast.”
Quite, carol noticed. Quite a promising. He refuses to lie, even in his
predictions. Almost as if the old man had put it into words, she could
sense the images that were going through his head. The pretty girl on a
contract, with her acceptable bobbed nose, being used for bathing-suit
publicity stills, small parts, perhaps after a while for unimportant leads
in unimportant pictures, for two, three, four years, then being let out to
make room for other, newer, more acceptable pretty girls.
“No, thank you,” Carol said, “I’m terribly attached to my present
crooked long nose.”
The old man stood up now, nodding, as though he was pleased, on
his own, if not on the company’s account, by her decision. “For the
stage,” he said, “it is faultless. Better than faultless.”
“I’m going to confess something,” Carol said candidly, more open
with this old man than she had permitted herself to be with anyone
else in the city. “The only reason I’m up here is that if you make a
name for yourself in the movies, it’s easier to go where you want to go
in the theatre. I’ve planned myself for the stage.”
The old man stared at her, rewarding her candour with surprise,
then approval. “So much the better for the stage,” he said gallantly. “I’ll
call you again.”
“When?” Carol asked.
“When you’re a great star,” he said lightly, “to offer you all the
money in the world to work for us.”

He put out his hand, and Carol shook it. He held her hand in both his
for a moment, his face saddened, mischievous, regretful, touched by
the memory of all the lovely, ambitious, courageous girls he had seen
in the last thirty years. “Isn’t it hell?” he said, grinning, patting her hand
in his rosy hands.

1. Carol Hunt
a. had a screen test for the first time
b. made her second attempt in the story
c. had had numerous screen tests but was rejected every time

2. Carol Hunt was

a. a minor film actress b. an actress in theatre
c. a photo model for publicity stills

3. Carol’s ambition was to become

a. a great film actress b. a great actress in theatre c. rich and famous

4. Carol failed the screen test because

a. her appearance was rather plain
b. her appearance was a bit unusual
c. she lacked artistic skill

5. The old man who arranged the screen test seemed

a. cynical and indifferent b. rather benevolent and a bit ironic
c. ill-disposed and willing to hurt

6. The outcome of the test was that

a. the old man agreed to sign Carol to a contract with certain reservations
b. no contract was signed
c. the old man shortlisted Carol and promised to call her later

7. While speaking with the old man Carol appeared

a. impatient and ill-mannered b. rather naïve for her age and position
c. rather sophisticated for her age and position

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in bold.
1. Piano players usually have slender fingers.
a. long b. short c. slim d. quick

2. There’s no point worrying over such trifles.
a. minor diseases b. small, unimportant things
c. stupid people d. things that are not likely to happen

3. A massage will relax those tense muscles.

a. tired b. aching c. weakened d. not relaxed

4. There are substantial fines for exceeding permitted levels of noise pollu-
a. regular b. legal c. allowed d. recommended

5. He never deviated from his original plan.

a. profited b. acted differently
c. gave attention to every detail d. drew conclusions

6. I’m sure she’ll be an asset to the team.

a. downside b. surprise c. weak link d. valuable thing

7. Human nature is frail.

a. mysterious b. weak c. strong d. unexplainable

8. He’s highly susceptible to flattery.

a. sensitive b. opposed to c. able to discern d. likely to be influenced

II. Find in the text

a) two adjectives with the suffix -less;
b) an adjective with the suffix –ish. What do these suffixes mean?
c) a noun which has the same meaning as “advertisement”.

III. Note that the words “feature”, “touch”, “force” and “lead” can be both
nouns and verbs. In what meanings are they used in the text? (The word
“touch” is used twice).
Which meaning of the word “feature” is related to the topic “cinema”?
Mind that the word “lead” had a homograph which is pronounced [led] (a type
of metal).

IV. What does the verb “to flatter” mean? Illustrate it with your own example.
In the text it is used as a part of the idiom “to be flattered”. How does its
meaning change in this case?

V. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary if

necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in which it is
used in the text.
1) to discourage 2) ambitious 3) stubborn
4) to shrug 5) starlet 6) to confess

VI. Grammar Point.

Do not confuse the patterns “used to” and “to be/get used to smth”.
• We use “used to” to talk about something that happened regularly in the past,
but is no longer true. E.g. I used to smoke, but I gave up a couple of years ago.
Note that “used” is followed by an Infinitive. “Used” is a verb in Past Simple
here; “to” is a particle before the Infinitive.
• We use “to be used to smth/doing smth” to talk about something that is habit-
ual for somebody at present. E.g. We’re used to the noise of the traffic now.
“Used” is an adjective here; “to” is a preposition.
We can also use the expression “get used to” to talk about a change in some-
body’s habits, about becoming habituated to something. Note that “to be/get
used to smth” is followed either by a noun or a Gerund.
Which pattern is used in the story twice and in what context?
Give your own examples with these patterns. Try to relate them to your experi-

Recounting and Interpreting Details

1. Who was Carol Hunt and what was her ambition?
2. Describe the appearance of Carol Hunt.
3. How did her screen test go? Who arranged it?
4. Why did the man who arranged the test refuse to sign Carol to a contract?
How do you understand the following phrase describing the old man’s reasons
for refusal: “[he was] honeying the harsh, official, impersonal truth with his
own sweet-tempered, but personal and therefore finally valueless truth”?
5. What solution to the problem did the man propose?
6. Was Carol ready to do everything to get a chance of featuring in movies?
Why did she refuse to change her appearance? (find at least two reasons) How
do you understand the old man’s phrase that for the stage Carol’s nose was
“better than faultless”?
7. In what part of the episode is Carol being naïve and in what part is she being
8. In what part is the old man being sincere and well-disposed and in what part
is he being ironic?
9. What was the old man’s attitude towards Carol and Carol’s attitude towards
the old man? What impression do these characters produce on you? How do
you understand the following phrase describing the old man’s reaction to
Carol’s confession: “The old man stared at her, rewarding her candour with
surprise”? Why is the verb “to reward” used?
10. What was the outcome of the meeting? Do you think Carol made the right
Creative Follow-up Work
Do you think Carol succeeded as an actress? How did her career develop, to
your mind? Finish the story in any way you like.
To find out what actually happened read the whole story “Wistful, Delicately
Gay” by Irwin Shaw.


by John Cheever
 Before you read:
1) What is the largest radio set that you have seen? What are radios like
2) What role does the radio play in your life? Does it influence your life in
any way?

Jim and Irene Wescott were the kind of people who seem to strike
that satisfactory average of income, endeavor, and respectability that is
reached by the statistical reports in college alumni bulletins. They were
the parents of two young children, they had been married for nine
years, they lived on the twelfth floor of an apartment house near Sutton
Place, they went to the theater on an average of 10.3 times a year, and
they hoped someday to live in Westchester. Irene Wescott was a pleas-
ant, rather plain girl with soft brown hair, and a wide, fine forehead
upon which nothing at all had been written, and in the cold weather she
wore a coat of fitch skins dyed to resemble mink. You could not say
that Jim Westcott looked younger than he was, but you could at least
say of him that he seemed to feel younger. He wore his graying hair cut
very short, he dressed in the kind of clothes his class had worn at An-
dover, and his manner was earnest, vehement, and intentionally naïve.
The Wescotts differed from their friends, their classmates, and their
neighbors, only in an interest they shared in serious music. They went
to a great many concerts – although they seldom mentioned this to any-
one – and they spent a good deal of time listening to music on the ra-
Their radio was an old instrument, sensitive, unpredictable, and be-
yond repair. Neither of them understood the mechanics of radio. When
the instrument faltered, Jim would strike the side of the cabinet with
his hand. This sometimes helped. One Sunday afternoon, in the middle
of a Schubert quartet, the music faded away altogether. Jim struck the
cabinet repeatedly, but there was no response. The Schubert was lost to
them forever. He promised to buy Irene a new radio, and on Monday
when he came home from work he told her that he had got one. He re-
fused to describe it, and said it would be a surprise for her when it
The radio was delivered at the kitchen door the following afternoon,
and with the assistance of her maid and the handyman Irene uncrated it
and brought it into the living room. She was struck at once with the
physical ugliness of the large gumwood cabinet. Irene was proud of her
living room, she had chosen its furnishings and colors as carefully as
she chose her clothes, and now it seemed to her that her new radio
stood among her intimate possessions like an aggressive intruder. She
was confounded by the number of dials and switches on the instrument
panel, and she studied them thoroughly before she put the plug into a
wall socket and turned the radio on. The dials flooded with a malevo-
lent green light, and in the distance she heard the music of a piano quar-
tet. The quartet was in the distance for only an instant; it bore down
upon her with a speed greater than light and filled the apartment with
the noise of music amplified so mightily that it knocked a china orna-
ment from a table to the floor. She rushed to the instrument and reduced
the volume. The violent forces that were snared in the ugly gumwood
cabinet made her uneasy. Her children came home from school then,
and she took them to the Park. It was not until later in the afternoon that
she was able to return to the radio.
The maid had given the children their suppers and was supervising
their baths when Irene turned on the radio, reduced the volume, and sat
down to listen to a Mozart quintet that she knew and enjoyed. The mu-
sic came through clearly. The new instrument had a much purer tone,
she thought, than the old one. She decided that tone was most important
and that she could conceal the cabinet behind the sofa. But as soon as
she had made her peace with the radio, the interference began. A crack-
ling sound like the noise of a burning power fuse began to accompany
the singing of the strings. Beyond the music, there was a rustling that
reminded Irene unpleasantly of the sea, and as the quintet progressed,
these noises were joined by many others. She tried all the dials and
switches but nothing dimmed the interference, and she sat down, disap-
pointed and bewildered, and tried to trace the flight of the melody.
The elevator shaft in her building ran beside the living-room wall, and
it was the noise of the elevator that gave her a clue to the character of
the static. The rattling of the elevator cables and the opening and clos-

ing of the elevator doors were reproduced in her loudspeaker, and, real-
izing that the radio was sensitive to electrical currents of all sorts, she
began to discern through the Mozart the ringing of telephone bells, the
dialing of phones, and the lamentation of a vacuum cleaner. By listen-
ing more carefully, she was able to distinguish doorbells, elevator bells,
electric razors, and Waring mixers, whose sounds had been picked up
from the apartments that surrounded hers and transmitted through her
loudspeaker. The powerful and ugly instrument, with its mistaken sen-
sibility to discord, was more than she could hope to master, so she
turned the thing off and went into the nursery to see her children.
When Jim Wescott came home that night, he went to the radio con-
fidently and worked the controls. He had the same sort of experience
Irene had had. A man was speaking on the station Jim had chosen, and
his voice swung instantly from the distance into a force so powerful
that it shook the apartment. Jim turned the volume control and reduced
the voice. Then, a minute or two later, the interference began. The ring-
ing of telephones and doorbells set in, joined by the rasp of the elevator
doors and the whir of cooking appliances. The character of the noise
had changed since Irene had tried the radio earlier; the last of the elec-
tric razors was being unplugged, the vacuum cleaners had all been re-
turned to their closets, and the static reflected that change in pace that
overtakes the city after the sun goes down. He fiddled with the knobs
but couldn’t get rid of the noises, so he turned the radio off and told
Irene that in the morning he’d call the people who had sold it to him
and give them hell.
The following afternoon, when Irene returned to the apartment from
a luncheon date, the maid told her that a man had come and fixed the
radio. Irene went into the living room before she took off her hat or her
furs and tried the instrument. From the loudspeaker came a recording of
the “Missouri Waltz.” It reminded her of the thin, scratchy music from
an old-fashioned phonograph that she sometimes heard across the lake
where she spent her summers. She waited until the waltz had finished,
expecting an explanation of the recording, but there was none. The mu-
sic was followed by silence, and then the plaintive and scratchy record
was repeated. She turned the dial and got a satisfactory burst of Cau-
casian music – thump of bare feet in the dust and the rattle of coin jew-
elry – but in the background she could hear the ringing of bells and a
confusion of voices. Her children came home from school then, and she
turned off the radio and went to the nursery.

When Jim came home that night, he was tired, and he took a bath
and changed his clothes. Then he joined Irene in the living room. He
had just turned on the radio when the maid announced dinner, so he left
it on, and Irene went to the table.
Jim was too tired to make even pretense of sociability, and there was
nothing about the dinner to hold Irene’s interest, so her attention wan-
dered from the food to the deposits of silver polish on the candlesticks
and from there to the music in the other room. She listened for a few
minutes to a Chopin prelude and then was surprised to hear a man’s
voice break in “For Christ’s sake, Kathy,” he said, “do you always
have to play the piano when I get home?” The music stopped abruptly.
“It’s the only chance I have,” the woman said. “I’m at the office all
day.” “So am I,” the man said. He added something obscene about an
upright piano, and slammed a door. The passionate and melancholy
music began again.
“Did you hear that?” Irene asked.
“What?” Jim was eating his dessert.
“The radio. A man said something while the music was still going
on – something dirty.”
“It’s probably a play.”
“I don’t think it is a play,” Irene said.
They left the table and took their coffee into the living room. Irene
asked Jim to try another station. He turned the knob. “Have you seen
my garters?” A man asked. “Button me up,” a woman said. “Have you
seen my garters?” the man said again. “Just button me up and I’ll find
your garters,” the woman said. Jim shifted to another station. “I wish
you wouldn’t leave apple cores in the ashtrays,” a man said. “I hate the
“This is strange,” Jim said.
“Isn’t it?” Irene said.
Jim turned the knob again. “‘On the coast of Coromandel where the
early pumpkins blow,’” a woman with a pronounced English accent
said, “‘in the middle of the woods lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò. Two
old chairs, and half a candle, one old jug without a handle...’”
“My God!” Irene cried. “That’s the Sweeneys’ nurse.”
“‘These were all his worldly goods,’” the British voice continued.
“Turn that thing off,” Irene said.” Maybe they can hear us.” Jim
switched the radio off. “That was Miss Armstrong, the Sweeneys’
nurse,” Irene said. “She must be reading to the little girl. They live in

17-B. I’ve talked with Miss Armstrong in the Park. I know her voice
very well. We must be getting other people’s apartments.”
“That’s impossible,” Jim said.
“Well, that was the Sweeneys’ nurse,” Irene said hotly. “I know her
voice. I know it very well. I’m wondering if they can hear us.”
Jim turned the switch. First from a distance and then nearer, nearer,
as if borne on the wind, came the pure accents of the Sweeneys’ nurse
again: “‘Lady Jingly! Lady Jingly!’” she said, “‘sitting where the
pumpkins blow, will you come and be my wife? said the Yonghy-
Jim went over to the radio and said, “Hello” loudly into the speaker.
“‘I am tired of living singly,’” the nurse went on, “‘on this coast so
wild and shingly, I’m a-weary of my life; if you’ll come and be my
wife, quite serene would be my life...’”
“I guess she can’t hear us,” Irene said. “Try something else.”
Jim turned to another station, and the living room was filled with the
uproar of a cocktail party that had overshot its mark. Someone was
playing the piano and singing the “Whiffenpoof Song *,” and the voices
that surrounded the piano were vehement and happy. “Eat some more
sandwiches,” a woman shrieked. There were screams of laughter and a
dish of some sort crashed to the floor.
“Those must be the Fullers, in 11-E,” Irene said. “I knew they were
giving a party this afternoon. I saw her in the liquor store. Isn’t this too
divine? Try something else. See if you can get those people in 18-C.”
The Westcotts overheard that evening a monologue on salmon fish-
ing in Canada, a bridge game, running comments on home movies of
what had apparently been a fortnight at Sea Island, and a bitter family
quarrel about an overdraft at the bank. They turned off their radio at
midnight and went to bed, weak with laughter…

Decide whether the following statements are true or false.
1. The Wescotts were an extraordinary family in many ways.
2. Jim Wescott bought a new radio because the quality of the sound in the
old one was very low.
3. When Irene saw the new radio she immediately liked it more than the
old one.
4. With the new radio Jim and Irene enjoyed listening to classical music.

Yale University drinking song.
5. Irene heard strange sounds coming out of the loudspeaker along with the
music which turned out to be snatches of their neighbours’ conversations.
6. At first Irene wanted to turn the radio off because she though it was in-
decent to eavesdrop on their neighbours.
7. The Wescotts decided to exchange the radio because of the defect.
8. The Wescotts found some of the conversations they overheard highly

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in
1. The sudden rise in share prices confounded the economists.
a. disappointed b. inspired c. confused d. upset

2. He was beginning to feel distinctly uneasy about their visit.

a. uncomfortable b. excited c. difficult d. emotional

3. He could barely conceal his disappointment.

a. suffer b. express c. control d. hide

4. She was totally bewildered by his sudden change of mood.

a. disappointed b. confused c. upset d. charmed

5. The interview ended abruptly.

a. finally b. positively c. negatively d. suddenly

II. a) What household appliances are mentioned in the text? What other
appliances do you know? What is another word for “vacuum cleaner”?
b) In what situation can you hear running comments?

III. Note that the words “strike”, “progress”, “dial” and “trace” can be
both nouns and verbs. Explain their meaning in each case and give your
examples. (Note that the word “progress” changes its stress depending on
whether it is a noun or a verb).

IV. Note that the verb “to work” can be used transitively, i.e. to take a di-
rect object:
to work oneself (=to work hard); to work the land (=to grow crops); to
work a crowd (=to manage, to excite); to work a large area (e.g. selling

goods there); to work a coffee machine (=to operate); to work clay/dough/
iron/gold (=to use a material).
Find a sentence where this verb is used transitively in the text.
Now illustrate one of the above expressions with an example of your own.

V. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary

if necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in
which it is used in the text.
1) clue 2) alumnus 3) obscene 4) fortnight

VI. Note how each of the following idioms is used in the text:
1) a good deal of; 2) to fiddle with; 3) to get rid of; 4) in the background;
5) to slam the door.
Now use each of these idioms in an example of your own. Try to relate
them to your own experience.

Creative Follow-up Work

Find as many words and expressions related to the topic “household elec-
tric appliances” in the text as you can. Use them to make up a short story
of about 150 words.


…Sometime in the night their son began to call for a glass of water
and Irene got one and took it to his room. It was very early. All the
lights in the neighborhood were extinguished, and from the boy’s win-
dow she could see the empty street. She went into the living room and
tried the radio. There was some faint coughing, a moan, and then a man
spoke. “Are you all right, darling?” he asked. “Yes,” a woman said
wearily. “Yes, I’m all right, I guess,” and then she added with great
feeling, “But, you know, Charlie, I don’t feel like myself any more.
Sometimes there are about fifteen or twenty minutes in the week when I
feel like myself. I don’t like to go to another doctor, because the doc-
tor’s bills are so awful already, but I just don’t feel like myself, Charlie.
I just never feel like myself.” They were not young, Irene thought. She
guessed from the timbre of their voices that they were middle-aged.

The restrained melancholy of the dialogue and the draft from the bed-
room window made her shiver, and she went back to bed.
The following morning, Irene cooked breakfast for the family – the
maid didn’t come up from her room in the basement until ten – braided
her daughter’s hair, and waited at the door until her children and her
husband had been carried away in the elevator. Then she went into the
living room and tried the radio. “I don’t want to go to school,” a child
screamed. “I hate school. I won’t go to school. I hate school.” “You
will go to school,” an enraged woman said. “We paid eight hundred
dollars to get you into that school and you’ll go if it kills you.” The next
number on the dial produced the worn record of the “Missouri Waltz.”
Irene shifted the control and invaded the privacy of several breakfast
tables. She overheard demonstrations of indigestion, carnal love,
abysmal vanity, faith, and despair. Irene’s life was nearly as simple and
sheltered as it appeared to be, and the forthright and sometimes brutal
language that came from the loudspeaker that morning astonished and
troubled her. She continued to listen until her maid came in. Then she
turned off the radio quickly, since this insight, she realized, was a
furtive one.
Irene had a luncheon date with a friend that day, and she left her
apartment a little after twelve. There were a number of women in the
elevator when it stopped at her floor. She stared at their handsome and
impassive faces, their furs, and the cloth flowers in their hats. Which
one of them had been at Sea Island? she wondered. Which one had
overdrawn her bank account? The elevator stopped at the tenth floor
and a woman with a pair of Skye terriers joined them. Her hair was
rigged high on her head and she wore a mink cape. She was humming
the “Missouri Waltz.”
Irene had two Martinis at lunch, and she looked searchingly at her
friend and wondered what her secrets were. They had intended to go
shopping after lunch, but Irene excused herself and went home. She
told the maid that she was not to be disturbed; then she went into the
living room, closed the doors, and switched on the radio. She heard, in
the course of the afternoon, the halting conversation of a woman enter-
taining her aunt, the hysterical conclusion of a luncheon party, and
hostess briefing her maid about some cocktail guests. “Don’t give the
best Scotch to anyone who hasn’t white hair,” the hostess said. “See if
you can get rid of the liver paste before you pass those hot things, and
could you lend me five dollars? I want to tip the elevator man.”

 As the afternoon waned, the conversations increased in intensity.
Irene could hear the arrival of cocktail guests and the return of children
and businessmen from their schools and offices. “I found a good-sized
diamond on the bathroom floor this morning,” a woman said. “It must
have fallen out of the bracelet Mrs. Dunston was wearing last night.”
“We’ll sell it,” a man said. “Take it down to the jeweler on Madison
Avenue and sell it. Mrs. Dunston won’t know the difference, and we
could use a couple of hundred bucks...”
The Wescotts were going out for dinner that night, and when Jim
came home, Irene was dressing. She seemed sad and vague, and he
brought her a drink. They were dining with their friends in the neigh-
borhood, and they walked to where they were going. The sky was broad
and filled with light. It was of those splendid spring evenings that ex-
cite memory and desire, and the air that touched their hands and faces
felt very soft. A Salvation Army band was on the corner playing “Jesus
Is Sweeter”. Irene drew her husband’s arm and held him there for a
minute, to hear the music.” They are really such nice people, aren’t
they?” she said. They have such nice faces. Actually , they are so much
nicer than a lot of the people we know.” She took a bill from her purse
and walked over and dropped it into the tambourine. There was in her
face, when she returned to he husband, a look of radiant melancholy
that he was not familiar with. And her conduct at the dinner party that
night seemed strange to him, too. She interrupted her hostess rudely
and stared at the people across the table from her with an intensity for
which she would have punished her children.
It was still mild when they walked home from the party, and Irene
looked up at the spring stars. She waited that night until Jim had fallen
asleep, and then went out into the living room and turned on the radio.
Jim came home at about six the next night. Emma, the maid, let him
in, and he had taken off his hat and was taking off his coat when Irene
ran into the hall. Her face was shining with tears and her hair was disor-
dered. “Go up to 16-C, Jim!” she screamed. “Don’t take off your coat.
Go up to 16-C. Mr. Osborn’s beating his wife. They’ve been quarreling
since four o’clock, and now he is hitting her. Go up there and stop
From the radio in the living room, Jim heard screams, obscenities,
and thuds. “You know you don’t have to listen to this sort of thing,” he
said. He strode into the living room and turned the switch. “It’s inde-

cent,” he said. “It’s like looking into windows. You know you don’t
have to listen to this sort of thing. You can turn it off.”
“Oh, it’s so terrible, it’s so dreadful,” Irene was sobbing. I’ve been
listening all day, and it’s so depressing.”
“Well, if it’s so depressing, why do you listen to it? I brought this
damned radio to give you some pleasure,” he said. “I paid a great deal
of money for it. I thought it might make you happy. I wanted to make
you happy.”
“Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t quarrel with me,” she moaned, and laid
her head on his shoulder. “All the others have been quarreling all day.
Everybody’s been quarreling. They’re all worried about money. Mrs.
Hutchinson’s mother is dying of cancer in Florida and they don’t have
enough money to send her to the Mayo Clinic. At least, Mr. Hutchinson
says they don’t have enough money. And some woman in this building
is having an affair with the handyman – with that hideous handyman.
It’s too disgusting. And Mrs. Melville has heart trouble, and Mr. Hen-
dricks is going to lose his job in April and Mrs. Hendricks is horrid
about the whole thing and that girl that plays the “Missouri Waltz” is a
whore, a common whore, and the elevator man has tuberculosis and
Mr. Osborn has been beating his wife.” She wailed, she trembled with
grief and checked the stream of tears down her face with the heel of her
“Well why do you have to listen?” Jim asked again. “Why do you
have to listen to this stuff if it makes you miserable?”
“Oh, don’t, don’t, don’t,” she cried. “Life is too terrible, too sordid
and awful. But we’ve never been like that, have we, darling? Have we?
I mean, we’ve always been good and decent and loving to one another,
haven’t we? And we have two children, two beautiful children. Our
lives aren’t sordid, are they, darling? Are they?” She flung her arms
around his neck and drew his face down to hers. “We’re happy, aren’t
we, darling? We are happy, aren’t we?”
“Of course we’re happy,” he said tiredly. He began to surrender his
resentment. “Of course we are happy. I’ll have that damned radio fixed
or taken away tomorrow.” He stroked her soft hair. “My poor girl,” he
“You love me, don’t you?” she asked. “And we’re not hypocritical
or worried about money or dishonesty, are we?”
A man came in the morning and fixed the radio. Irene turned it on
cautiously and was happy to hear a California-wine commercial and a

recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, including Schiller’s “Ode
to Joy”. She kept the radio on all day and nothing untoward came to-
ward the speaker.
A Spanish suite was being played when Jim came home. “Is every-
thing all right?” he asked. His face was pale, she thought. They had
some cocktails and went to dinner to the “Anvil Chorus” from “Il
Trovatore”. This was followed by Debussy’s “La Mer”.
“I paid the bill for the radio today,” Jim said. “It cost four hundred
dollars. I hope you’ll get some enjoyment out of it.”
“Oh, I’m sure I will,” Irene said.
“Four hundred dollars is a good deal more than I can afford,” he
went on. “I wanted to get something that you’d enjoy. It’s the last ex-
travagance we’ll indulge in this year. I see that you haven’t paid your
clothing bills yet. I saw them on your dressing table.” He looked di-
rectly at her. “Why did you tell me you paid them? Why did you lie to
“I just didn’t want you to worry, Jim,” she said. She drank some wa-
ter. “I’ll be able to pay my bills out of this month’s allowance. There
were the slipcovers last month, and that party.”
“You’ve got to learn to handle the money I give you a little more in-
telligently, Irene,” he said. “You’ve got to understand that we don’t
have as much money this year as we had last. I had a very sobering talk
with Mitchell today. No one is buying anything. We’re spending all of
our time promoting new issues, and you know how long that takes. I’m
not getting any younger you know. I’m thirty-seven. My hair will be
gray next year. I haven’t done as well as I hoped to do. And I don’t sup-
pose things will get any better.”
“Yes dear,” she said.
“We’ve got to start cutting down,” Jim said. “We’ve got to think of
the children. To be perfectly frank with you, I worry about money a
great deal. I’m not at all sure of the future. No one is. If anything
should happen to me, there’s the insurance, but that won’t go very far
today. I’ve worked awfully hard to give you and the children a comfort-
able life,” he said bitterly. “I don’t like to see all my energies, all my
youth, wasted in fur coats and radios and slipcovers and…”
”Please, Jim,” she said. “Please. They’ll hear us.”
“Who’ll hear us? Emma can’t hear us.”
“The Radio.”

“Oh, I’m sick! He shouted. “I’m sick to death of your apprehen-
siveness. The radio can’t hear us. Nobody can hear us. And what if they
can hear us? Who cares?”
Irene got up from the table and went into the living room. Jim went
to the door and shouted from there. “Why are you so Christly all of a
sudden? What’s turned you overnight into a convent girl? You stole
your mother’s jewelry before they probated her will. You never gave
your sister a cent of that money that was intended for her – not even
when she needed it. You made Grace Howland’s life miserable, and
where was all your piety and your virtue when you went to that abor-
tionist? I’ll never forget how cold you were. You packed your bag and
went off to have that child murdered as if you were going to Nassau. If
you’d had any reasons, if you’d had any good reasons…”
Irene stood for a minute before the hideous cabinet, disgraced and
sickened, but she held her hand on the switch before she extinguished
the music and the voices, hoping the instrument might speak to her
kindly, that she might hear the Sweeney’s nurse. Jim continued to shout
at her from the door. The voice on the radio was suave and noncommit-
tal. “An early-morning railroad disaster in Tokyo,” the loudspeaker
said, “killed twenty-nine people. A fire in a Catholic hospital near Buf-
falo for the care of blind children was extinguished early this morning
by nuns. The temperature is forty-seven. The humidity is eighty-nine.”

Vocabulary Training
I. Understanding Word Meaning from Context.
Choose a word or a word group that has the same meaning as the word in
1. Students soon grow weary of listening to a parade of historical facts.
a. intelligent b. tired c. interested d. sarcastic

2. He spoke in a forthright manner but without anger.

a. energetic b. sad c. disappointed d. direct

3. She cast a furtive glance over her shoulder.

a. angry b. tired c. secret d. sad

4. She could not conceal the deep resentment she felt at the way they had
been treated.
a. feeling b. joy c. offence d. surprise

5. She flung (Inf. fling) the letter down on the table.

a. laid carefully b. threw c. hid d. put back

6. It was a shock to discover the truth about his sordid past.

a. tragic b. criminal c. miserable d. dirty

II. a) What is the opposites of the words “decent” and “honesty”?

b) What two words are there in the text that mean “to shake slightly be-
cause of cold, fear or excitement”? Which one is more intense?

III. Word-building.
a) From what nouns are the adjectives “enraged” and “sheltered” derived?
What do these nouns mean?
b) From what adjectives are the nouns “privacy”, “obscenity” and “ap-
prehensiveness” derived? What do they mean?
c) From what adjective is the noun “extravagance” derived? Note that this
is a translator’s “false friend”. In English it has negative connotations and
quite a different meaning. What is it?

IV. a) Note that the words “trouble” and “tip” can be both nouns and
verbs. Illustrate their various uses with examples of your own.
b) The word “commercial” can be both an adjective and a noun. What
does it mean as a noun?

V. The verb “to check” has several meanings which are quite different. In
what meaning and in what context is it used in the text?

VI. Explain the following words in English. Use an explanatory dictionary

if necessary. If a word has several meanings, point out the meaning in
which it is used in the text.
1) sobering 2) insurance 3) apprehensiveness 4) allowance

Recounting and Interpreting Details

For the interpretation of the story “Enormous Radio” review Part I. Use
details from both parts while considering the following questions.
1. What image of the Wescotts is given at the beginning of the text? Why
does the author use statistics?
2. What was the main difference of the Wescotts from most other people,
according to Part I?
3. What was Irene’s reaction when her husband bought a new radio? What
was the radio like?
4. What was unusual about the radio?
5. How did Irene’s attitude towards the radio evolve? How many stages
can you distinguish throughout the story? Characterize each of them briefly
and give your reasoning.
6. Did the Wescotts find the overheard conversations amusing?
7. When did the radio begin to bother Irene?
8. Why did Irene persist in listening to the radio?
9. There is a pun in the following sentence: “She kept the radio on all day
and nothing untoward came toward the speaker”. What does this mean?
10. In Part I Jim said the new radio “would be a surprise for Irene when it
came”. This is an instance of dramatic irony. Try to explain its essence.
What was Jim’s intention when he bought the radio and what did it lead to?
11. What made Irene’s behaviour strange and why was Jim surprised at it?
12. What caused Jim and Irene’s first minor quarrel and what was its out-
13. What worried Irene? Did she want to be like others or rather stand
apart from them? In what way?
14. What irritated Jim at the end of the story? What was his reaction to
Irene’s sudden change? Did he love his wife, to your mind?
15. What image of Irene do we get at the end? Why hadn’t it been hinted at
earlier in the story?
16. Comment on the last paragraph and the title.


Text 1. Man Injured at Fast Food Place

Scan the story and say: •Where did the incident take place? • Who was
involved? • What happened? • What was the outcome? • What was the re-
action of those involved?

A 79-year-old man was slightly injured on Saturday while waiting in

his brand new convertible in a drive-through lane at Burger Prince restau-
rant. Herman Sherman of Northville suffered a mild burn at about 9:00
p.m. when a young female employee accidentally spilled a cup of coffee
into his lap. Sherman said the coffee was hot but not scalding.
He refused medical aid, saying the only problem was the stain on his
slacks, but it would wash out. He was given a fresh refill. Before Sherman
drove off, the restaurant manager, John Johnson, gave him two free gift
certificates – one for an extra-large coffee and one for the restaurant's new-
est sandwich, the McRap.
The employee, who was a new hire, was dismissed later that evening.
She was quite upset. She said she would probably sue Burger Prince for
letting her go. She said it was the man's fault for ordering something that
she might be able to spill.

Text 2. Food Fight Erupted in Prison

Scan the story and say: • Where did the incident take place? • Who was
involved? • What happened? • What was the outcome?

Inmates released two correctional officers they had held for a week in
the tower at the state prison complex. The inmates captured the officers a
week ago after the two officers tried to quell a food fight in the main din-
ing room. The food fight erupted when the prisoners discovered that their
candy ration had been cut in half. The candy is a popular bartering item.
Inmates trade it for cigarettes, cigars, magazines, stationery, legal dictio-
naries, and other items. Prison officials said it was necessary to cut back on
this luxury item in order to provide basic items, like soap and razors and
toilet paper.
The prisoners went berserk over the reduction. They threw food, plates,
and silverware at the doors, windows, and guards. Then they grabbed two
guards and hauled them up to the tower. Once they had the tower door se-
cured, they sent messages to prison officials demanding big bags of candy
in exchange for sparing the guards’ lives. The warden complied with their
demands. After a week of negotiations, the prisoners approved a deal
which restored their candy ration, but in return the administration said they
would have to reduce daily soap allotments by 75 percent.

Text 3. Nutrition “Facts”

Scan the story and say: • What is the problem that is being discussed?
• Who is being blamed and who is the victim?

Americans get confused when they try to understand the food labels
(“Nutrition Facts”) on their packaged food. This is partly because the Food
and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture often seem
more interested in the welfare of the food industry than in the health of
For example, even though health practitioners and the federal govern-
ment itself tell consumers to watch their salt intake, processors continue to
add salt to packaged food. Salt occurs naturally in many foods, so why do
processors add more? Perhaps processors think that extra salty food will
make the consumers thirsty enough to buy more soda and other beverages
that the processors also make.
“Serving Size” is supposed to be the amount an average adult would eat
at one sitting as part of a regular meal. However, a 6-ounce container may
have anywhere from 1 to 3 servings, depending on the food inside the con-
tainer. A 6-ounce can of Crabmeat contains one serving, while a 6-ounce
can of Pink Salmon Chunks contains 3 servings.
With the federal government’s approval, processors use labeling that
helps to sell the product, regardless of how confusing or deceptive the label
is to the consumer. If a consumer sees “200 calories” on a can of tuna fish,
he might not buy it because 200 is a lot of calories. But if the consumer
sees “20 calories” (because the can of tuna fish has 10 servings!), he
doesn’t worry that the can contains too many calories. All he sees is the
number 20. That makes him happy, and it makes the processor happy.

Text 4. One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poison

Scan the story and say: • What is the problem that is being discussed?
• What is the most controversial food, according to the story? • What is the
writer’s opinion of it? • Did his attitude change after the incident?

People become quite illogical when they try to decide what can be eaten
and what cannot be eaten. The sad truth is that most of us have been
brought up to eat certain foods and we stick to them all our lives.
No creature has received more praise and abuse than the common gar-
den snail. Cooked in wine, snails are a great luxury in various parts of the
world. There are countless people, who ever since their early years, have
learned to associate snails with food.
My friend, Robert, lives in a country where snails are despised. As his
flat is in a large town, he has no garden of his own. For years he has been
asking me to collect snails from my garden and take them to him. The idea
never appealed to me very much, but one day, after a heavy shower, I hap-
pened to be walking in my garden when I noticed a huge number of snails
taking a stroll on some of my prize plants. Acting on a sudden impulse, I
collected several dozen, put them in a paper bag, and took them to Robert.
Robert was delighted to see me and equally pleased with my little gift. I
left the bag in the hall and Robert and I went into the living-room where
we talked for a couple of hours. I had forgotten all about the snails when
Robert suddenly said that I must stay to dinner. Snails, would, of course,
be the main dish. I did not fancy the idea and I reluctantly followed Robert
out of the room.
To our dismay, we saw that there were snails everywhere: they had es-
caped from the paper bag and had taken complete possession of the hall! I
have never been able to look at a snail since then.

Text 5. Hotel Says Goodbye to Clean Couple

Scan the story and say: • Where did the incident take place? • Who was
involved? • What caused the conflict? • How was the problem solved?
• Were the parties satisfied?

Theodore, the manager of the Paradise Hotel, told a middle-aged couple

that they would have to leave the hotel after just one night. The couple, vis-
iting from Texas, had booked a room for eight nights.
“They wanted a sterile environment,” Theodore said. “They should
have rented a room in a hospital, maybe an operating room. This hotel is
clean, but it isn’t that clean.”
Theodore said that, on the very first day, the couple brought all the
sheets, pillowcases, and bedspreads down to the main lobby and just
dropped them next to the front desk. They stood there next to this pile of
bedding while other guests looked, pointed, and murmured. The hotel got
three cancellations within the hour from people who witnessed this strange
When Theodore asked the couple what the problem was, they said that
their bedding was filthy and they wanted it replaced. The couple could not
identify any specific “filth” on the bedding. The wife just said, “We’re
paying good money to stay here. How dare you doubt us? We know the

filth is there. That’s all the proof you need.” Theodore called room service,
and the bedding was replaced immediately.
Early the next evening, however, the couple marched to the front desk
again and demanded seven cans of spray disinfectant. “We need a can for
each night. We have to spray the phone, the TV, all the door handles, the
toilet handle, the shower stall, the faucet, the sink, and any hotel staff en-
tering our room.”
Worried about what their demands might be in the following days,
Theodore politely suggested that a hotel more suitable for them was just
around the corner. He then called ahead to reserve a “very clean” room,
and gave them free transportation in the hotel limousine.
“They seemed surprised that I suggested a different hotel, but they liked
the idea that I didn’t charge them for the second day, and they really liked
the limousine service,” said Theodore.

Text 6. A Thoughtful Gift

Scan the story and say: • Who is involved in the story? • Why was the
man embarrassed?

Catherine invited Nelson to dinner. Last semester she had been a stu-
dent in Nelson’s grammar class, but she had to drop it.
Nelson was getting to be an old man. He had been teaching various sub-
jects for almost 40 years. He could have retired 10 years ago, but he loved
teaching. He said his students gave him something to look forward to every
day. He planned to teach until he dropped dead in the classroom.
Nelson needed to take a little gift to Catherine to show his gratitude for
the invitation. He couldn’t think of what would be appropriate. Opening
his kitchen cabinet, he found the perfect gift – an unopened box of tea. In a
kitchen drawer, he found some fresh-looking wrapping paper. He wrapped
the box of tea up expertly. Feeling proud of himself, he drove over to
Catherine’s and rang the doorbell.
He presented his gift. Catherine made a funny face. She said she loved
the wrapping paper. Then she unwrapped the tea and made another funny
face. “Nelson, I gave this tea to you at the end of last semester, and I
wrapped it in this paper!”
Nelson gulped. His face turned red. He told himself he had to be more
careful with gifts in the future. Stammering, he apologized to Catherine.
She smiled and said, “It’s okay. It’s the thought that counts, yes?”

Text 7. Theft Occurs Everywhere
Scan the story and say: • What kinds of theft are mentioned in the text?
• Who are the most frequent victims of thieves?

An elderly woman told the police that, as she entered a restroom, she
was jostled by a woman behind her. A few minutes later, as she was about
to pay for a moustache remover at a nearby store, she discovered that her
wallet was missing from her purse. Apparently the woman who had
bumped into her had cleverly stolen her wallet. This type of theft is called
Perhaps an even more personal kind of theft is known as housebreak-
ing, or burglary. After such an intrusion, the victims often report a feeling
of violation. They seldom regain the comfort and security level they used
to have in their home. They constantly feel like they are being watched;
they feel that if they go out, the burglars will again come in. They feel un-
comfortable when they are home, and they feel uncomfortable when they
aren’t home.
Burglars get lucky or make their own luck. Sometimes homeowners
forget to lock all their windows or doors. Sometimes burglars will break a
window, cut through a screen door, or force open a side door.
Thieves have no shame. They will steal from anyone that they think is
vulnerable. Of course, that means the elderly are their frequent victims.
Some thieves are very clever; some are very lucky. All of them make an
honest person’s life more difficult.
Imagine that: a world with no larceny, a world where you can park your
bicycle unsecured on the sidewalk, or leave your purse unattended in your
shopping cart. Is this only a dream? Some say that if you can dream about
it, it can happen.

Text 8. The Street is Burning

Scan the story and say: • What unusual incident happened in the street?
• What was the cause? • How was the problem solved?

Alvin was walking down 6th Street on a hot sunny day when he saw
smoke coming out of the street. He could smell the smoke, and it was get-
ting thicker. It was coming out of a storm drain. Alvin used his cell phone
to call the fire department.
“The storm drain is on fire!” he said. The fire department asked for his
whereabouts and he said he was near 6th and Main. They said they’d be
right there to investigate the situation. Alvin didn’t have to be anywhere, so
he waited for the firemen to arrive. He was curious himself as to what
could possibly be burning beneath the street. As far as he knew, there
wasn’t anything beneath the street except concrete. And everyone knows
that concrete doesn’t burn.
A fire truck arrived a few minutes later. “Are you the man who called?”
asked the driver. Alvin said yes. By now Alvin could hear crackling
sounds, like wood burning. The firemen didn’t seem to consider it an emer-
“What do you think it could be?” Alvin asked the driver.
“Oh, we know what it is. We have to take care of a problem like this
every few months. It’s the homeless people in their houses.”
Homeless people have been living under the streets for years. Using
their knowledge of the storm drain system, they set up their own “bunkers”
beneath the streets. These living areas frequently contain tables, mattresses,
chairs, and sofas. The residents often “borrow” electricity by connecting to
a live wire above ground to power their own lamps and even TVs under-
ground. Either this borrowed electricity or a discarded cigarette causes an
occasional fire.
Alvin watched as a couple of firemen lifted a manhole cover and de-
scended beneath the street with a fire hose. A few minutes later, the black
smoke turned white. Shortly afterward, the firemen reappeared with a
homeless person who seemed to have just been woken up.

Text 9. Time to Shop

Scan the story and say: • What did the man buy? • Was it a successful
shopping on the whole?

It was time to go to the market. He had no bananas, no apples, and no

milk. He got into his car and drove to the market. It was only five minutes
away. The parking lot was almost empty. Good, he thought. He wouldn't
have to stand in a long line.
He parked his car and walked over to the shopping cart area. He pulled
out one of the carts and pushed it ahead of him into the store. Inside, he
grabbed an alcohol wipe and wiped the handle of the cart. Then he grabbed
another wipe and wiped his own hands. You can never be too careful, he
He turned left and walked over to the produce section. Today was his
lucky day. Apples were on sale, a dollar a pound. Usually they were two
dollars a pound or more. He put 10 apples into a plastic bag and weighed
the bag. It was three pounds. He walked over to the bananas. They were
the regular price, 79 cents a pound. He bought three pounds of bananas.

When he saw the carrots, he remembered that he needed carrots, too.
He put a two-pound bag of carrots into his cart. They were only $1.29. He
walked to the dairy section and saw that a gallon of milk was $4. He put a
gallon into his cart and walked back to the front of the store.
He paid for his food, got his receipt, and walked out to his car. He put
the food into his trunk and drove home.

Text 10. Trees Are a Threat

Scan the story and say: • Where did it take place? • In what way did
the trees threaten the people? • How was the problem to be solved? • Were
the locals happy about this?

The mountain town of Canton is at an elevation of 6,000 feet. It is sur-

rounded by thick underbrush and pine trees. Because of six years of
drought, these plants are a major fire hazard. Thousands of trees and tons
of underbrush are going to be removed over the next five years at a mini-
mum cost of $3 million. The brush will be removed first, then the trees will
be toppled and removed. A cleared nonflammable area will then safely sur-
round the town of 4,000.
Residents look forward to the work, because it will help their town sur-
vive a future inferno. “But there are two problems,” said one resident. “All
the extra trucks are going to make traffic pretty bad. Once the area is
cleared, we have to make sure dirt bikers don’t try to make the cleared area
their personal playground.”
A recent fire burned 4,000 acres and destroyed 11 homes in nearby
Hamilton. The fire was raging toward Canton, but a sudden rainstorm put it
out. Residents know that they won’t get lucky twice, so they are looking
forward to this massive clearing operation.
Ninety percent of the cutting and clearing will be paid with federal
funds. Unfortunately, if the trees are on private property, they must be paid
for by the residents themselves. Prices can range as high as $1,000 to cut
and remove one tree. Officials say that residents can apply for state and
federal loans if necessary.


1. Title.
2. Basic facts about the author (if possible; preferably those that are
essential or helpful for the interpretation of the text).
3. Genre of the text: FICTION: short story (humorous, psychologi-
cal, philosophical, didactic, a problem story etc.; it may also be mixed),
fable, parable, fairy-tale, prose poem, sketch etc. NON-FICTION: es-
say, newspaper article, scientific paper, informational story, memoires,
diary, (auto)biography, an account of real events, advertisement etc *.
4. Subject matter (topic).
5. Plot summary (sequence of events).
6. Composition:
1) the beginning (exposition / introduction)
2) the middle (rising action, complication; crisis, climax, turning-
point; falling action)
3) the end (dénouement (outcome), solution, catastrophe, possibly
an epilogue).
Composition may be analyzed in terms of conflict development
(complication, crisis, confrontation etc.).
Not all texts necessarily have all structural elements. E.g., a story
may have no obvious outcome. In this case it has an open structure.
7. Narrator (omniscient narrator, first-person narrator, a character
with a set of personal traits who may or may not take part in the action).
8. Character portrayal (direct/indirect/mixed; static/dynamic; flat/
round). Description of the characters (portrait, personal traits, develop-
9. Central idea.
To support your inferences about the idea of the story you may ana-
lyze, apart from the composition and the characters, the title, the con-
flict, the atmosphere, motifs, general mood and tone (humorous,
satiric, tragic, lyrical etc.), style (bookish, colloquial, terse, laconic, po-
etic etc.), figures of speech (epithet, metaphor, simile, pun, hyperbole,
irony, repetitions etc.).

This plan is primarily for analyzing fiction. Though sometimes it is difficult to distin-
guish between fiction and non-fiction (e.g. in essays, biographies)

Before you read the text look through the plan for text analysis in Ap-
pendix 1.


by Max Adeler

(1) A step-ladder is a thing most useful to people who are moving into a
new house. The servants find it extremely convenient when they have to
wash the windows, to remove the dust from the door and window-frames,
and to perform many other household duties; but the master of the house
will need it when he hangs his pictures, when he fixes the curtains and
when he is asked by his wife to hang a shelf or two in the cellar.
(2) I would, however, warn my fellow countrymen against the thing
which is offered to them under the name of Patent Combination Step-lad-
der. I bought one in the city just before we moved, because the shop assis -
tant showed me how, by simple operation of a set of springs, the ladder
could be changed into an ironing-table, and from that into a comfortable
settee for the kitchen, and finally back into a step-ladder, if the owner
wished. It seemed very tempting to buy three useful things for a single
price. So I bought it, but I soon discovered that it was not so useful as I had
expected it to be.
(3) On the day of its arrival, the servant used the ladder to remove the
globes from the chandelier in the parlour, but while she was engaged in the
work the springs unexpectedly began to move, and the machine was
changed into an ironing-table, while the maid-servant was thrown down on
the floor and lay there with a sprained ankle among the fragments of two
globes broken into pieces.
(4) After this unfortunate accident we decided to use the apparatus only
as an ironing-table. Probably the thing would have remained an ironing-ta-
ble, if it had been suitable for this purpose. On the following Tuesday,
however, while half a dozen shirts were lying upon it ready to be ironed,
someone passed by and knocked against it accidentally. It gave two or
three threatening jerks, tore two shirts into rags, hurled the iron out into the
yard, and after a few convulsive movements of the spring quietly took the
shape of a step-ladder.
(5) Then it became evident that it could be used with a greater safety as
a settee, and it was placed in the kitchen in that shape. For a few days we
heard no more of it. It gave much satisfaction. But one night when the ser-
vant had company the bench was, perhaps, overloaded, for it had another
and most alarming paroxysm; there was a trembling of the legs, then a
tremendous jump, and one of the visitors was hurled against the range,
while the machine turned several somersaults and appeared once more in
the shape of an ironing-table.
(6) It has now become so sensitive that it goes through the entire drill
very quickly if anyone comes near it or coughs or sneezes close at hand.
We keep it in the garret, and sometimes in the middle of the night a rat will
run across the floor, or a current of air will pass through the room, and we
can hear it dancing over the floor and taking the shape of a ladder, a bench
and a table fifteen or twenty times in quick succession.
(7) We are willing to sell the machine for a very small sum. It might be
a valuable addition to the collection of some good museum. I am sure it
will be more useful as a curiosity than a thing for house-work.


1. The title is given (think how it is related to the subject and the idea of
the story).
The title of the story is “A Very Dangerous Invention”.

2. Use books or Internet for reference to find out the basic facts about
the author. Mind that it is preferable to mention the facts that are essential
or in some way helpful for the interpretation of the text. These are primar-
ily the country he/she lived and worked in, the time span of creative activ-
ity, the most famous works and their genre, target audience, the degree of
popularity, the main reasons for becoming famous/classic.

It was written by (The author of the story is) Max Adeler.

Max Adeler is the pen name of the American writer Charles Heber
Clark, who lived in the second half of the XIXth – the beginning of the
XXth century. He is known mostly as the author of the collection of eccen-
tric and humorous stories “Out of the Hurly Burly”. The text that is being
analyzed is a part of this book.

3. “A Very Dangerous Invention” is a humorous short story. (It is fic-

tion though the author might have used details from real life).

4. The subject of the story is the purchase of a combination step-ladder

which could also be used as a settee and an ironing-table and which was
supposed to be very useful.

5. To give plot summary it is essential to analyze the paragraphs.
Typically all good writing is carried out in coherent, clear-cut and at the
same time logically connected paragraphs. A proper paragraph usually
contains a main idea (a thesis) and a number of supporting details. For re-
counting the sequence of events it is necessary to define the main idea of
each paragraph. In other words, to give a concise and logical plot summary
you should understand what each paragraph boils down to.
To make the summary coherent use temporal or cause-effect linking
words and phrases (e.g. after that, finally, as a result etc.). See Appendix 5
– Useful Vocabulary.
The sample text contains 7 paragraphs. Note how the following sen-
tences correspondingly convey their main ideas and, accompanied by a few
supporting details, make up a summary. Pay attention to the use of linking
words and phrases.

(1) The story opens with the description of the functions which a step-
ladder can have in a household.
(2) However, the narrator advises against buying one particular model,
namely the one which combines three functions: a step-ladder, an ironing-
table and a settee. The narrator himself bought such a step-ladder and
soon discovered it was not as useful as the shop assistant had promised.
(3) In fact, the three-functional step-ladder proved dangerous. For ex-
ample, the narrator’s maid-servant fell down from it as the step-ladder un-
expectedly turned into an ironing-table.
(4) Then the narrator decided to use the step-ladder only as an iron-
ing-table, but someone accidentally knocked against it. As a result, the
ironing-table turned into a step-ladder causing further damage. (5) Fi-
nally, the narrator tried using the step-ladder as a settee, but this attempt
was not successful either.
(6) After that the step-ladder became so sensitive that it transformed
even after slightest disturbances. Therefore, it was dangerous to keep it in
the house.
(7) So, in the end, the narrator regretted his purchase and was thinking
of a way to get rid of the step-ladder.

6. Composition in a story shows the development of action. The action

of a story is a sequence of events usually arranged so as to have three rec-
ognizable parts: the beginning (exposition where the setting is usually de-
scribed), the middle (rising action with a series of turning-points and cli-
max) and the end (outcome, or dénouement).

In contrast to real life, action in fiction is usually ordered. It imitates in
words a series of human activities with a power to affect the reader’s opin-
ions and emotions in a certain way. This is the basic principle of fiction
which arouses the readers’ interest: it makes them eager to learn what is
going to happen and how the problems faced by the characters are going to
be solved. Action produces tension, suspense or surprise.

The story is set in a typical house where a step-ladder is supposed to

be a very useful item.
The action begins when the narrator buys a combination step-ladder
which he expects to be of great use. The plot develops as the narrator tries
using the step-ladder in all its functions one by one. Each time the step-
ladder fails to fulfil its function, and, on the contrary, causes damage.
The story reaches its climax when the step-ladder becomes so sensitive
that it proves dangerous to keep. Here the author obviously uses hyperbole
[exaggerates things] to make his point clearer.
In the dénouement the narrator makes up his mind to get rid of the
step-ladder and to sell it to a museum as a curiosity.

7. The story is told by a first-person narrator because he relates what

happened to himself. This underscores that the advice against buying the
combination step-ladder given in the story is sincere and is based on per-
sonal experience.

8. In the story which is being analyzed there are no “proper” characters.

However, in this case we can still distinguish the narrator as a character
and the step-ladder, which is in the centre of the plot.
The servants may be considered as supporting characters.
For a more detailed description of human characters see Appendix 3.

The main “character” of the story is a three-functional step-ladder

which is personified: it is “too sensitive” and behaves in an unpredictable
way, it does not obey the will of its owner, causes damage in the household
and seems to do so on purpose. It can be described as “temperamental” (it
does not work properly). The author uses mixed method while describing
the step-ladder. On the one hand, the narrator explicitly speaks of it as
“not so useful”, “too sensitive” and as “a curiosity” (direct method). For
the most part, however, the step-ladder “acts” for itself supporting the
narrator’s description (indirect method).
The other main character is the narrator himself. At the beginning of
the story he considers himself practical but in fact he is a bit naïve as he
believes everything the shop assistant tells him. The narrator is honest and
self-critical as he recognizes his mistake. We can also note that he has a
sense of humour as at the end, in spite of money loss and the damage, the
narrator speaks of the step-ladder as a curiosity fit for museums. Hence,
the narrator is a dynamic character as he becomes more experienced to-
wards the end of the story.
There are several supporting characters. They are the narrator’s ser-
vants. Their function is to illustrate the misfortunes caused by the step-lad-

Mind that it is advisable to give reasoning based on details taken from

the text while ascribing certain personal traits to the characters.

9. The central idea of the story is that customers should, perhaps, be

more critical about new products, especially those which seem to econo-
mize their money by combining several functions. The three-functional
step-ladder symbolizes all the products which are seemingly designed for
the convenience of the customers but in fact prove useless and even harm-
ful. This idea is conveyed in an amusing manner as the narrator tells what
happened to himself with a sense of humour. The title of the story reflects
its subject matter, foreshadows the development of action and hints at the
central idea.


Apart from obvious basic facts (age, sex, nationality, occupation, social
status etc.) and portrait (the description of appearance and clothes), a liter-
ary text gives information about the personal traits of the characters and
their inner world. This information is essential for the understanding of the
main idea of a story.
There are two main ways (methods) in which information about the
characters’ personal traits and inner world can be given in a text:

• Direct portrayal (explicit representation). The narrator clearly states

something about the character, describes him/her as a person.
E.g. Mr. X. was very greedy.
Madam N. was very kind and generous, but a bit light-minded.

• Indirect portrayal (implicit or dramatic representation). The charac-

ters act and speak. The narrator does not state anything about them directly
and it is up to the reader to make inferences about their personal traits.
E.g. Mr. X. refused to help his brother when the latter was in dire need.
He said “It’s none of my business. You should solve your problem your-
The reader makes an inference that Mr. X was very greedy (cruel, un-
sympathetic etc.).

• Mixed portrayal (both methods of portrayal are combined).

The two methods may even contradict each other so that the character is
revealed in an unexpected way. This may be used for additional dramatic

While making inferences about the characters’ personal traits you may use
the vocabulary in Appendix 5 for clues.

The characters may also be:

• main or supporting (secondary, incidental)
• static (not developing) or dynamic (developing)
• flat (one-sided) or round (many-sided, complex)


NOTE. It is always advisable to support your inferences about the charac-

ters by reasoning based on details taken from the text. You may also use
quotes. The analysis (as well as the summary) may be written either in the
Past or in the Present tense. The use of tenses should be logical and consis-

The main characters of the story are the narrator as a young man and
a woman who was his guest at the luncheon.
Before the description of the luncheon the narrator gives the portrait of
the woman. It is not very detailed, we learn only that she was older than
him (about forty), not really attractive, but imposing. As to her manners,
she is described as “talkative”. The main feature of her portrait, the one
that caught the narrator’s eye at once is that she seemed to have too many
teeth, i.e. her teeth were the most prominent feature of her portrait. Here
the narrator uses a hyperbole (“she gave me the impression of having
more teeth, white and large and even, than were necessary for any practi-
cal purpose”). This feature foreshadows the further representation of this
Showing the woman’s personal traits the narrator uses indirect
method. During the luncheon the woman asked the narrator to order many
dishes, choosing the most expensive ones. So she may be described as
greedy and gluttonous. She did not understand or did not care that it was
difficult for the young writer to pay for this. It was she who asked him to
invite her to the first-rate French restaurant. Thus, she demonstrated self-
ishness and lack of understanding. In the course of the luncheon the
woman repeatedly described her eating habits as very moderate (“I never
eat more than one thing”) while she considered other people (including the
narrator) to eat too much. This is a case of situational irony as the reader
sees quite the contrary. This could be interpreted as hypocrisy, but in fact
she was just devoid of self-criticism. She did not notice that her words
were the contrary of what she was doing. This is proved by the fact that she
evidently did not change her habits over the years and when the narrator
saw her for the second time she weighed twenty-one stone (133 kilograms).
The woman was obviously shallow and probably stupid. She had a
false idea of herself: she flattered herself that she understood literature
and art. That is why she wanted to have luncheon with a young writer.
However, during their meeting she didn’t say a word about literature,
though she was very talkative. She kept talking about food using the same
arguments over and over again. She was self-centered and paid little at-
tention to the writer. Her language was very poor and confined to the topic
of food.
The woman can be briefly described as greedy, selfish, superficial and
uncritical. Therefore, she is a flat character.
She is a static character as neither her habits nor manner of speaking
seemed to have changed over the years (though, ironically, her appearance
changed because of this).
The narrator as a young man was a writer at the beginning of his ca-
reer, who earned very little. Describing himself he also uses indirect
method. Agreeing to have luncheon at the most expensive restaurant with
his reader he was a bit naïve and vain at the same time. He expected the
woman to talk about his works and was flattered. He was polite and tactful
as he tried not to let her know he was short of money and never hinted at
her overeating. He was resourceful because when his means were coming
to an end he quickly invented in his mind a way to solve the problem.
The narrator is a dynamic character. As a young man he was inexperi-
enced but from the way he ironically describes this situation later we un-
derstand that he had changed. His manner is witty and self-critical. He ob-
viously learned a lesson.


allusion – a reference in a literary work to a person, place, or thing in his-

tory or another work of literature. Verb: to allude to.

ambiguity – a statement having different and sometimes contradictory

meanings; something difficult to understand or explain because it involves
many different aspects. Adj.: ambiguous.

analogy – a comparison that demonstrates the similarity(-ies) between two

things or concepts.

antithesis – strong contrast, opposition.

aphorism – a short and often witty statement that contains an important

opinion or general truth. E.g. Art is long, life is short.

atmosphere – the mood, feeling or quality of life in a story conveyed by

the author’s choice of language and organization which evokes certain
emotions in the reader. The atmosphere may be pleasant, peaceful, gloomy,
violent etc. The depiction of landscape or interior often contributes to the

character – a personage in a story or narrative.

• dynamic character – a character that undergoes significant develop-
ment or change.
• static character – a character that remains unchanged throughout the
• flat character – a character with little depth or complexity who may
be described in one or two phrases. Flat character is often a type or a
• round character – a character with a complex (often contradictory)
personality who defies simple description or analysis.

chronological order – simple temporal order in which the actions are pre-
sented as they actually occurred.

climax – structural element of a text, the moment when the conflict is most
intense. The climax is preceded by rising action.

conflict – the problem that drives the plot of a story forward towards its
• external conflict – a character is involved into struggle with the envi-
ronment or other characters.
• internal conflict – a character struggles with himself/herself.

context – 1) the text surrounding a word that gives this word its meaning;
2) historical and cultural factors surrounding the events in the story and
giving them significance. Adj.: contextual.

contrast – comparing two things by noting their differences.

defeated expectancy (anticlimax; bathos) – an abrupt and often humor-

ous descent from something serious or intense to something trivial.
dénouement [deɪ'nu:ma:ŋ] – (solution) structural element of fictional
texts in which the conflict is solved.

dialogue – written conversation between characters.

didactic – intended to teach a lesson. This lesson is called a moral.

epithet – an adjective or adjective phrase used to define a characteristic

quality of a person or thing and usually evoking a vivid image.

euphemism – an indirect word or phrase that is used to refer to something

embarrassing or unpleasant, sometimes to make it seem more acceptable
than it really is. E.g. “to pass away” instead of “to die”.

exposition – the introduction of a story where the author presents the char-
acters in their setting, suggests the theme and hints at the central conflict
that will drive the story forward.

fable – usually a short fictional narrative with animals that represent hu-
man types. A fable has a clear didactic function.

fiction – narrative writing that is not factual (novel, short story, fable).

flashback – an interruption of the chronological sequence by the introduc-

tion of an event that occurred earlier. It may be presented as a dream, a
memory or in a dialogue.

foreshadowing – the introduction of clues early in a story that help predict
the outcome. Verb: to foreshadow.

genre – type of literature distinguished from other types by form, tech-

nique or subject matter (e.g. short story, novel, fable).

hyperbole [haɪ'pɜ:bəlɪ]– obvious and deliberate exaggeration for the pur-

pose of emphasis. It is not meant to be taken literally, but is used figura-
tively to create humour or emphasis. E.g. I told you a thousand times not to
do that.

initiation story – a story which shows a young character experiencing a

significant change of knowledge about the world and himself/herself, a
change of character through a confrontation with the realities of adult

imagery (image) – the use of words or figures of speech to create a mental

picture. Imagery exploits all the senses to produce powerful impression.
Imagery can be visual, auditory, kinetic, olfactory, gustative and tactile.

implied reader – a hypothetical figure to whom the text is addressed.

inversion – the reversal of the normally expected order of words for the
purpose of emphasis.

irony – some sort of contradiction between appearance and reality.

• verbal irony – speech in which what is said is the opposite of what is
• dramatic irony – a circumstance in which characters fail to under-
stand their own situation and make wrong fateful choices.
• situational irony – a situation which demonstrates a contradiction of
what the reader considers appropriate and what actually occurs.
• cosmic irony – a situation in which some unknown force brings
about dire and dreadful events.

leitmotif – see “motif”.

literal meaning – the face value of words and ideas.

metaphor – element of imagery linking two seemingly unrelated things in

the form of implicit comparison. E.g. the snow of his hair.
moral – lesson taught by a text with a didactic function.

motif (leitmotif) pl. motifs – a theme, idea or image that appears repeat-
edly throughout a story and characterizes it.

narrator (point of view) – one who tells the story. Narrators vary accord-
ing to the degree of participation in the story and their reliability.
• omniscient narrator (neutral or selective/limited) – tells the story in
the third person. The narrator knows everything about the characters,
including their thoughts and intentions. Through an omniscient narra-
tor the reader has access to all information about the characters.
• observer-narrator – the narrator confines himself/herself to the role
of an observer telling only those things that can be perceived from the
outside. He/she has no access to the thoughts of other characters.
• first-person narrator – a character in the story who tells what hap-
pens to himself/herself in the first person.
• unreliable narrator – one who gives his or her own understanding
of a story (which can be highly subjective or misguided), instead of the
explanation and interpretation the author wishes the audience to ob-

neologism – a new word introduced by the author.

non-fiction – writing that is based on fact (e.g. biographies, news stories,

encyclopedia articles, research papers).

open ending – structural element of a fictional text opposed to solution, or

dénouement. In a story with an open ending the conflict is not solved, the
final interpretation is left up to the reader.

parable – a short and simple story which illustrates a moral or religious


paradox – an apparent contradiction.

paraphrase (n, v) – a statement that expresses the same thing once again
using different words.

parody – a composition which imitates the distinctive features of a serious

piece of writing for comic or satiric purposes.
personification – the technique of representing animals, inanimate objects
or abstract ideas as if they were human beings.

plot – the sequence of events in a story; the simple story line.

point of view – the perspective from which the story is told (3d person om-
niscient or limited, 1st person) cf. narrator.

pun – a play on words, often resulting in a humorous effect.

repetition – repeated use of particular sounds, syllables, words, phrases,

sentences etc. for the purpose of structuring the text.

rhetorical question – a question to which the answer is obvious and there-

fore not expected.

sarcasm – a sharp, bitter remark; words that appear to praise, but are in-
tended to insult.

satire – the use of irony, sarcasm or ridicule to expose and criticize human

setting – the time, place, physical details, and circumstances in which a sit-
uation occurs. Settings include the background, atmosphere or environment
in which characters live and move, and usually include physical character-
istics of the surroundings. Expr.: The story is set in…

simile ['sɪmɪlɪ] – an explicit comparison of two things, using the words

“like” or “as”. Cf. metaphor, an implicit comparison.

subtext – any meaning which is implied rather than explicitly stated in a

literary work.

suspense – the feeling of tension or expectation aroused in a reader by the

development of the action.

symbol – a symbol is a word or object that stands for another word or ob-
ject and suggests something greater than itself. E.g. a book may be a sym-
bol of wisdom and knowledge; a bird or a flower may be a symbol of
spring etc. Verb: to symbolize; adj. symbolic.

NOTE. The division into positive and negative qualities is relative and
is made here only for convenience. Literary characters (especially round
ones) may combine positive and negative qualities. A negative character
may possess such qualities as “cautious” or “courteous”, which are basi-
cally positive, and vice versa, a positive character may be imprudent or
careless, which are basically negative qualities. So, when describing a
character, it’s helpful to look through all categories. Certain qualities (such
as “experienced”, “emotional”) may be considered either positive or nega-
tive, depending on the interpretation, so they are classified here as “neu-


aggressive gloomy quarrelsome

arrogant greedy quick-tempered
blunt grumbling rude
brusque gullible selfish
careless haughty shallow
complacent hypocritical silly
crafty ill-mannered sly
cruel impolite smug
cunning impudent stupid
discourteous insincere subservient
dishonest lazy superficial
envious mean tactless
extravagant mediocre tight-fisted
fastidious merciless treacherous
foolish narrow-minded vain


affectionate easy-going polite

ambitious even-tempered reliable
amiable faithful resolute
artistic frank resourceful
audacious freedom-loving sagacious
brave friendly selfless
broad-minded frugal sensible
calm gallant sensitive
careful generous sincere
cautious gifted smart
charming hard-working sober
cheerful honest sociable
circumspective independent sympathetic
clever industrious tactful
conscientious insightful talented
considerate intelligent thrifty
courageous judicious tolerant
courteous kind-hearted trustworthy
daring modest valiant
decisive optimistic well-bred
determined patriotic wise
diligent placid witty


absent-minded inquisitive rebellious

blasé jealous relaxed
conservative naïve reserved
down-to-earth observant sentimental
eccentric obstinate shrewd
emotional old-fashioned stubborn
experienced peculiar tense
fun-loving perspicacious thick-skinned
gregarious pessimistic unpractical
inexperienced pragmatic unsociable


Order of ideas: in the first place, firstly, secondly, finally

Cause and result: therefore, for this reason, so, as a result,

thus, consequently, hence

Comparison and contrast: likewise, however, nevertheless,

on the one hand/on the other hand, on the contrary

Giving examples: for example, for instance, such as

Addition: moreover, furthermore, besides

Summarizing: on the whole, to sum up, in short, in general


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