"The Wee Bannock"

  1. What might be said to be some of the points made by this tale, if any?
  2. What are interesting features of the way it is told? What forms of humor does it display?
  3. Is there any significance to the way the bannock is finally caught?
  4. What does the tale reveal about the society in which the bannok travels?

"Death in a Nut"

  1. What is the point of this story? Is it an allegory?
  2. What are some notable features in the way it is told? Are there humorous aspects to the narration, and if so, what are these?
  3. How are Jack and his mother characterized? What seems to be the narrator's attitude toward them?
  4. Is the tale's ending appropriate?

James Hogg, "The Cameronian Preacher's Tale"

  1. On what grounds does the internal narrator claim credibility? How is his story authenticated?
  2. What are significant features of the story? What does the story seem to reveal about contemporary beliefs about death and the supernatural?
  3. Does the story have a moral? Are there humorous elements or episodes in the narration?

John Galt, "The Howdie: An Autobiography"

  1. Why might Galt have chosen a midwife for the narrator of a tale? Would the portrayal of a midwife have been common in 19th century literature?
  2. What reason is given for her choice of occupation? What are some important episodes in her memories of her work? What problems/kinds of incidents seem to require the "discretion" of which she speaks?
  3. What seems to be the speaker's relation to the medical establishment?
  4. What is added to her recollections by her concluding tale of the adoption of Willy Facings by Miss Peggy Needle? What doe you think may be Galt's views of the fate of "illegitimate" and orphan children?
  5. In general, what view of contemporary life is conveyed by this story?
  6. Can you identify any characteristic recurrent features of these short stories and tales? Are there recurrent elements of humor or irony?

"The Cunning Speech of Drumtochty"

  1. Why might the author of this tale have chosen the authorial pen-name "Ian McLaren" rather than his birth name of John Watson?
  2. What seems the narrator's tone toward the incidents he describes? To what extent is the reader expected to agree with his ostensible point of view?
  3. What are some ironical moments in the story? What are its most important incidents?
  4. What points does the narrator wish to make about the tempermaent of the people of Drumtochty? How is Drumsheugh an example of the locals?
  5. What are some speech patterns which the narrator seems especially to enjoy? (please give specifics)
  6. What seems to be the purpose of this "tale"? Is its title appropriate?

"A Lodging for the Night"

  1. How does the tale build on what is known of the life of Francis Villon? Why might Stevenson have been moved to choose this poet as the subject of a tale?
  2. What seems to be the narrator's view toward his character?
  3. What details and incidents seem to shed light on the poet's personality?
  4. What points of view are expressed in Villon's debate with Brisetout? Where do you think the narrator/author's sympathies lie?
  5. What form of closure does the tale provide, if any? What is the reader supposed to think of it all?

"Thrawn Janet"

  1. What do you think may have been Stevenson's purpose in writing this tale? Does the narrator/tale provide natural as well as supernatural explanations for most of the events which occur?
  2. What purpose is served by the opening account of the minister's later life?
  3. What values are conveyed by the narrator's voice? Can you find specific expressions which indicate his point of view?
  4. To what extent is the narrator "unreliable"? Are there parallels between this tale and a poetic dramatic monologue.
  5. What effect is conveyed by the ending? Was this a good story, and if so, why?


  1. What seem to be some advantages of the fable form?
  2. What point of view seems often conveyed by Stevenson's fables?
  3. Which of these fables (if any) did you prefer?

"The Debatable Land"

How does this story seem different in tone and manner from the previous tales we have read?

For questions on Jacob and Gunn, see resources page under Jacob, "The Debateable Land"