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The Possibility of Evil
Short Stories - Literary Devises Title:The Possibility of Evil
Point of View: Third person (omnesient)
Protagonist: Miss Adela Strangeworth
What type of character is the Protagonist? Round and Dynamic
She is a respected member of the community and nothing more. But she thinks of herself as the owner of the town
Antagonist: The whole town
Describe the setting: in the 1950's , summer, mysterious atmosphere, Bright friendly looking town
Type of Conflict:
Man Vs Man
Man Vs Society
Describe the main conflict:
Miss Strangeworth trying to remove evil and solve the problems before they spread.
Describe the Climax of the Story:
When Miss Strangeworth drops the letter instead of mailing it
How does the Protagonist change over the course of the story?
she changes from being a nice lady to sending "rude" letters to the towns people
Describe the relationship between the title and the theme.
the title of the story gives a clue to what the theme of the story which is, when you do rude/mean things to others it's is going to be paid back later on.
How does the main conflict help to illustrate the theme?
it shows Miss Strangeworth trying to remove the evil before spreading, but she was actually doing the exact opposite of what she thought she was doing and creating more evil in people, and her plan had backfired.
How does the climax help to illustrate the theme?
Miss Strangeworth was going to send the letters but didn't cover her tracks very well, which lead up to the whole town knowing what she was really up to.
Give examples of each of the following literary terms in the story (use quotes):
“Miss Chandler seemed absentminded and very much as though she was thinking about something like else.”
"This was, after all, her town, and these were her people;"
"Every window sparkled, every curtain hung stiff and straight, and even the stones of the front walk were swept and clear."
Symbol: rose = Miss Strangeworth
Foreshadowing (give both elements):
When the Harris boy picks up the dropped letter, it foreshadows that people will see the letter.
Irony: Miss Strangeworth thinks sending letters to the neighbors is good for everyone, but actually it is making the town into a chaos.
Imagery: " The sun was shining, the air was fresh and clear after the night's heavy rain, and everything in Miss Strangewoth's little town looked washed and bright.
Describe the relationships between the class theme and the story.
Miss Stangeworth shows the evil side of humanity, but thinking she is on the good side.
The Possibility of Evil” (Shirley Jackson) Response Package
Describe the setting.
Main street, In the 1950's, a friendly but suspenseful atmosphere
2. Describe/discuss the character of Miss Adela Strangeworth.
She was 78 years old knew everyone in town, she was fond of her house and her beautiful roses, she had two completely different personalities.
3. How long has Miss Strangeworth lived in her town? Discuss her ties to the town and infer how this makes her feel about her position there.
She was born there and she had never spent more than a day outside this town in all her long life. Her family had lived there for better than a hundred years, she is seen as a respectable lady but she thinks it should be her family's town and no evil should exist in it.
4. Discuss how the town’s visitors respond to Miss Strangeworth’s roses. Explain how she responds.
The town's visitors stop and admire Miss Strangeworth's roses, and they often ask if she would give them some roses. She was very fond of her roses but never gave away any of her roses, it bothered her to think of people wanting to carry them away, to take them into strange towns and down strange streets.
5. Explain how the people in town react and respond to Miss Strangeworth. What do you think their impression of her is?
They respond to her nicely and think of her as a pleasant lady who is always saying nice things to the towns people
6. Discuss the relationship between Tommy Lewis and Miss Strangeworth and explain how that relationship has changed over the years. Infer what might have been the basis of the relationship. Then explain how and why it changed.
They were good friends in high school , but the day Lewis left high school and went to work in the grocer she had stopped calling him tommy and started calling him Mr. Lewis. The Lewis family had been in the town almost as long as the Strangeworths and that was the basis of their relationship. Their relationship changed from being good friends to being just towns mate, it changed when young Lewis left high school and went to work in the grocery
7. Describe Ms. Harper as she reaches for her pocketbook. Explain what Mrs. Strangeworth thinks about Martha’s behavior.
Ms. hand shook slightly as she opened her pocketbook, Miss Strangeworth wondered, if she had been taking proper care of herself.
8. Mrs. Strangeworth meets Helen Crane, the mother of a six month old infant, and Miss Chandler, the librarian. Discuss her interactions with them and her observations about them.
Helen Crane was worrying about the infant not moving around, and sitting up much. Miss Strangeworth replied with a comforting answer that all babies are different and some of them develop much more quickly than others. Miss Chandler seemed absentminded and thinking about something else and Miss Strangeworth noticed tat Miss Chandler had not had not taken much trouble with her hair that morning, and sighed because she hated sloppiness.
9. There is a revealing statement (p. 215) about how the town views Miss Strangeworth. Explain what that is and why.
"...the town was proud of Miss Strangeworth and her roses and her house. They had all grown together" they were proud of her because she kept her house clean and her garden fresh. A lot of tourists admired it and it was a great sight for the town.
10. Explain the difference between the papers Miss Strangeworth uses to write letters. discuss the other ways in which these letters differ.
Her letters were usually engraved with STRANGEWORTH HOUSE engraved across the top but for her other letters she used a pad of various-colored paper bought from the local newspaper shop. She used a dull stub of pencil and a childish block print.
11. Discuss the purpose of Miss Strangeworth’s letters.
They were to keep her town alert and the keep it clean and sweet with no evil lurking around.
12. Why does Miss Strangeworth lie about the goings on in her town?
Because "...Adela Strangeworth, a name honored in the town for so many years, did not belong on such trash"
13. Explain what Miss Strangeworth sees as her role in the community.
She thinks her duty is to keep her town alert to everything going on.
14. After finishing the letters, Miss Strangeworth sets down to tea. discuss the irony of her thoughts after writing the letters. Explain Miss Strangeworth’s idea of “liv(ing) graciously” (218). Then, prove that she is not.
she thought living graciously was to keep evil out of town and live in a nice house, with a nice garden. She was sending letters that brought the evil instead of destroying it.
15. Explain why Miss Strangeworth never suspects the children of laughing or mocking. What does this prove about her opinion of herself.
Becacuse she thinks she is a respected member of the community. She thinks of herself as an asset to pleasant street.
16. Miss Strangeworth overhears a conversation between Dave Harris and Linda Stewart. Discuss the content of the conversation and explain Miss Strangeworth’s role in it.
The conversation was about Linda Stewart not being able to see Dave Harris anymore. Miss Strangeworth had sent a letter to Linda's dad saying that she was seeing the Harris boy.
17. Miss Strangeworth thinks that there is “so much evil in people. Even in a charming little town like this one” (220). Explain what the evil is.
Evil always exists and she was spreading it even more thinking she was stopping it.
18. Explain how the townspeople discover Miss Strangeworth’s role in the letters being sent to citizens. How do they get Miss Strangeworth back?
They discovered it when Miss Strangeworth dropped the letter, and the Dave Harris delivered it personally to Don Crane. They got her back by destroyed her most priceless possession, her roses.
19. Examine the last sentence
of the story. How does Miss Strangeworth view her punishment? How does she view what she has done? Explain the irony of this.
Miss Strangeworth began to cry for the wickedness of the world. All her work of "removing evil" and unknowingly adding more evil had backfired and she realized that. The irony of this is that she was trying to keep the neighborhood clean and sweet but did the complete opposite.
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