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ENG 1120 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Hills Like White Elephants, Louise Erdrich, Chuck Palahniuk

Course Code
ENG 1120
Graham Lorrie
Study Guide

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ENG1120 Midterm Study Guide
Midterm: Write a 6-7 paragraph (6 sentences per paragraph) essay using a thesis focused on one
theme (unknown) discussed in class using three short stories as support.
1. Synopses of Short Stories (4)
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin (1894)
Louise Mallard was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and a
certain strength. Mrs. Mallard has some kind of heart condition, thus there was great care telling
her that her husband died. Josephine (her sister) told her this news by dropping hints and not
blatantly telling her. Her husband’s friend Richards was over when Josephine told Mrs. Mallard
the news of her husband’s death, since Richards noticed Brently’s name in the “killed” listing of
a railroad disaster while he was in the newspaper office. When she was told, she did not act like
many other women have in the past, she was not paralyzed by shock, but instantly started
weeping with abandonment, threw herself into her sister’s arms and then fled to her room. She
would not have anyone follow her. She sat in a comfy roomy armchair that stood across from the
open window and pressed down into it with physical exhaustion. She stared out the window and
saw a peddler selling his wares, heard the notes of a distant song someone was singing, sparrows
twittering in the eaves, and look out to the blue sky toward the West. She had a fixed gaze on the
patches of the white cloud (dull gaze). She was having a deep thought. There was something
coming to her and she was waiting for it fearfully. It was creeping out of the sky, reaching toward
her through sounds, the scents, and the color that filled the air. She got up out of the chair and
fell onto the ground. There was this thing was approaching her/trying to possess her, but her will
was too weak. When she abandoned herself a little whisper escaped her parted lips “free, free,
free!” then the look of terror and the vacant stare that followed it went from her eyes. They
stayed keen and bright, her pulse beating fast and her coursing blood warm and relaxing within
her body. She knew that she would weep again when she would see death fold their hands over
her husband’s face/body, but also knew the years after his death were also her reality, so she
opened her arms out to them and welcomed them. There would be no one to live for her in those
years so she would live for herself. She is thinking of her life in terms of being a free person and
a free body, after all, she did love her husband – sometimes. She opened the door walking like
the goddess of Victory. Brently Mallard opens the door – it appears that he was not even in the
accident, or even near it. He did not even know there was an accident. Richards tried to screen
the view of her husband, but it was too late. When the doctors came, they said she died of heart
disease–of joy that kills.
“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway (1927)
The hills across the Ebro (river in northern Spain) were long and white. Bamboo beads
hung across the door into the bar to keep the flies out. An American and a girl named Jig sat at a
table in the shade outside of the building. Station was between two lines of rails. The narrator is
on a bus or train from Barcelona to Madrid, but stopped at this junction (train would come in
forty minutes, stopped at junction for two minutes). Temperature outside was very hot. The
American and the girl order a beer. The girl is looking off into the lines of the hills; the hills were

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white and the ground/country was brown and dry. She says they look like white elephants. The
man says he hasn’t seen one and the girl replies “no, you wouldn’t have”. The girl looks at the
bead curtain and sees they painted something on it. It says “Anis del Toro” it’s a drink. They
order it with water. She says the drink tastes like licorice. Grains and trees lined the Ebro on the
other side, beyond the river were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of
grain and she saw the river through the trees. Dialogue is about pregnancy/abortion. Anis del
Toro tastes like licorice, like every thing they’ve waited for for a long time. Their bags had
stickers on them from all of the hotels they went to. At the end, he brought the bags to the other
side of the station. He didn’t see the train coming. All of the other passengers were reasonably
waiting for the train. When he returned, she said “nothing is wrong with me. I feel fine”
“Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk (1995)
Stitches inside his cheek were compared to black stitches on a dog after it gets fixed. You
can swallow a pint of blood before you get sick. The main character works for Microsoft. Walter
from Microsoft shakes his hand…he has a steam shovel jaw like a marketing tool tanned the
colour of a barbequed potatoes chip and says, “I’d hate to see what happened to that other guy”.
The first rule of fight club is that you don’ talk about fight club, so he told Walter he fell. The
third rule in fight club is when someone says “stop” or goes limp, the fight is over. They fight
without shirts or shoes and one on one until it’s over. Fight club started between the narrator and
Tyler. It happens every Sunday morning after the bar closes on Saturday night. Tyler gets under
the one flickering light in the basement and the first thing he says is the “first rule of fight club is
to never talk about fight club”. The men fighting are all raised by women (absent fathers). The
seventh rule of fight club is that if it’s your first time tonight, you must fight tonight. Fight club
occurs from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. every Sunday morning. Tyler and the narrator created fight club one
night at the bar. They both had never been in a fight before and they wanted to see how far they
could take it without dying. Tyler didn’t want to die “without scars”. The narrator hit Tyler in the
neck… Tyler punched his chest… the narrator hit Tyler below the ear… Tyler stomps on the
narrator’s chest with his heel. Fight club began in the summer. Tyler was “fighting” his dad when
he fought in fight club. Only the first 50 guys on the list get to fight. Most guys are at fight club
because they are scared to fight other things, but become less scared afterward.
“Mary and the Teenage Jesus” by Barbara McBride-Smith (2001)
Mary, her husband Joseph, and their kids travelled all day and are exhausted. Mary is
irritated with Joseph because he refuses to ask for directions and she thinks they are lost. They
stopped for the night and pulled over the caravan. Mary got out and looked for Jesus, their eldest
child, but he wasn’t there. Jesus was a good child, straight-A student, good attributes. He was a
special child. When he hit 12, he changed “overnight” because his hormones kicked in. He grew
an inch taller every night, his feet increased in size every week (now size 13), his voice dropped
a couple octaves, he grew peach fuzz, he was mistaken for someone much older – if you didn’t
know him you’d think he was an adult. His personality also changed: he opposed his parents in
everything – he left his room in shambles (carpentry tools and instruments lying everywhere,
scrolls thrown in the corner); he spent hours in his room alone with his doors closed, reading
about prophets who went into the desert to live. He was a stranger now. School counsellors tried
to help him (“He’s listening to the beat of a different drummer” they would say). Who was the
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