“Lizerunt”

What is the effect of using Elizabeth Hunt’s truncated name as a title?

How would you describe the style of this tale? Does it contain several registers?

What seems the author’s point of view throughout? Are we expected to sympathize with Lizerunt? With any of the other characters, such as Billy Chope’s mother?

What is the effect of reproducing the characters’ speech in urban dialect? Does the dialect seem convincing?

Which of their actions seems to undercut sympathy, and if so, does this affect readers’ response to the ending?

What values are shown to be possessed by Lizzie, Bill, Sam, Bill’s mother, and the doctor? Is the portrayal of Lizzie’s desire for a plume, for example, stereotyped? Realistic?

Based on this story, who seems mostly responsible for the problems of the urban poor?

What do you think happens after the story's conclusion?

What seems to be the author’s attitude toward the possibility of social reform? How can you tell?

Would it have been usual to treat domestic violence so graphically at the time? Do you think Morrison’s treatment is sensational?

“On the Stairs”

What is the fundamental irony of this story? Its tone?

What are some implications of the title? Do we ever see the life of apartment dwellers except from outside in the hallway?

How do the opening descriptions of the apartment building prepare the reader for what follows?

What are some topics treated by the two gossiping women? (cost of funeral trappings, certainty of death)

According to her, how does Mrs. Curtis know that her son will surely die?

What is added to the story by the doctor’s visit, his warnings, and his gift? Does this act of charity succeed?

Why doesn’t Mrs. Curtis call the doctor for her son?

What have these gifts gained for Mrs. Curtis?

What point of view is taken toward the events described? What is responsible for the death of Mrs. Curtis’s son?

What is false about the values of those who live “on the stairs”? Is there any suggestion that a remedy might be possible?

What conventional/Victorian expectations are overturned by this story?

Do these tales remind you of other novels, novellas or short stories published in the same decade?  (e. g., by Gissing or Stevenson)

“Behind the Shade”

What are implications of the title? From whose point of view is this story told?

What are the attitudes of their neighbors toward the widow and her daughter? Is there any sign of working-class solidarity?

What succession of details indicate the dire situation of the house’s inhabitants?

What is the effect of the fact that we never learn directly of the women’s motives and characters?

What motives and values seem to have sustained the doomed women? (desire for privacy in their desperation)

Why have they ceased to attend church? To have refrained from leaving their house during the day?

What view of this sad situation is the reader expected to take? Was the women’s respectability a virtue within their social context? (widows’ pensions not instituted until 1893)