1. What effect is created by the setting and description of the family's environs? What are some features of Oliphant's style?
2. Why do you think Oliphant chose the narrator she did? Which of his characteristics may inspire credibility? Will any of his limitations be important to the story?
3. What do we know about the family's past, social circumstances and expectations? Are these relevant to our perceptions of the story? Why do you think Oliphant chose to emphasize the family's Indian connections?
4. What are characteristics of the family relationships presented? Are they gender-stereotyped? How do they heighten the urgency of the story?
5. May aspects of this tale be autobiographical? What had happened to Oliphant's own children?
6. How is suspense built up throughout the narrative?
7. What story does Roland tell his father? What is the father's response?
8. What meanings seem attached to the ruins?
9. What seems to be the relation of the child's cry to Roland's sickness?
10. What allegory is presented in the motif of the open door?
11. How do the coachman Jarvis and his wife react to the stories of a ghost? What excuses do they give for not accompanying the father?
12. What do you note about Oliphant's presentation of servants? Can you compare/contrast it with that of Hogg?
13. In the first part of the tale, what function is served by the presence of the doctor, Simson? What values does he seem to represent?
14. What purpose is served by presenting a series of visits to the ruins?
15. What does the father experience when he first visits the ruin by himself? How does he react? (136) What happens when he and Bagley visit the same location?
16. What happens when Col. Mortimer and the Doctor visit? When they revisit accompanied by the minister?
17. According to the story, why do you think the minister is successful? What does the minister know about the departed "spirit," and how does he persuade him to cease his pleas to the living?
18. Why had the father been unable to visit easily with Roland?
19. Do any other expectations or stereotypes underlie this plot?
20. Does the tale's final frame provide closure? Do you think the author intends for it to do so?
21. Are there motifs in this tale which you recognize from other works of literature you have read? Are there any traditional "Scottish" themes in this tale?
22. What may be some Victorian preoccupations reflected in this story?
23. What do you see as some of the tale's embedded meanings? How does this seem typical/atypical for a ghost story?
24. What are some features of Oliphant's style? ( 136, 140, 158)