1. What are some themes of the story? What does it seem to be about? Are some of the main objects--the window, the library, the diamond--symbolic, and if so, of what?
2. What family relationships does the story describe? What seem to be the social and class circumstances of the speaker?
3. What can you tell about the speaker’s character? Do you think this story might have been autobiographical? (Oliphant was a self-educated Scottish woman who supported her large family by writing. Her husband and children all predeceased her, and her works reveal a concern with death and the supernatural).
4. What is added to the story by its Scottish setting?
5. What do you make of the many references to light and a delayed twilight?
6. How does the story deal with themes of age and youth? What point of view toward imaginative fantasies does the story itself seem to accept?
7. How do you interpret the speaker’s fascination with the window and elusive stranger? What may these represent for her? Why does she fall into sickness? Are there any psychological or social explanations you can give for her malaise?
8. What events suddenly occur at the story’s close? What do you think of the father’s sudden departure for “abroad,” or the brief allusion to the speaker’s later widowhood, motherhood and solitude? What does the waving of the stranger’s hand represent for her? Does the tale’s ending provide closure for the issues it raises?
9. What are features of Oliphant’s style?
10. Did you enjoy this story? Why or why not? Would you describe it as cheerful? Troubling? Psychologically realistic?
11. Do any features of this story resemble those of other works we have read for this class?