QUESTION SET #1 (a through d) • Throughout this course, any question set not attempted receives a grade of zero. In addition, any response not presented as a complete sentence receives a grade of zero, even if the content it contains is factually accurate. Points are deducted for incorrect grammar and confusing expression. Carefully proof-read your work before submitting it. Do not collaborate with any other student in producing your Write Now exercise.
When quoting from the story in an answer, ensure that you include signal the page number — for example, (page 31).
To open the story, Brennan’s unidentified, third-person narrator offers a sketch of Charles Runyon, whose family name may be Irish (meaning “champion”). Although he lives in the Murray Hill district of Manhattan, Charles is weekending beside the Hudson River “thirty miles from New York [City]” (page 28). Small details count for a lot in this tale, so the responses to the following will prove useful as you read on. (1.a) What is Charles’s “main interest” as a “literary gentleman”? Charles’s public “reputation” has two planks or components, one of which is his being “a wit.” (1.b) What is the other, and what does that word mean? (Use and cite a reputable source, such as the Oxford English Dictionary.) (1.c) In what activity does Charles engage “every night”? (1.d) Which 38-year-old person is on Charles’s mind, and why is that so?
QUESTION SET #2 (a through d) • (2.a) In whose home (part of the riverside community of Herbert’s Retreat) is the unmarried, 54-year-old Charles spending the weekend? (When answering, provide the family name, the wife’s first name, and the husband’s first name.) (2.b) On page 29, what phrase does Charles use in connection with Bridie; and what kind of look does that woman give Charles?
A working-class Irish immigrant to the United States, Bridie’s native tongue may be Gaeilge, the Irish language, as opposed to the (much younger) English language. (2.c) What multisyllabic English word does Bridie “[say] to herself”? (2.d) Why, in your opinion, might that word be significant, given some or other aspect of — or theme within — “The Servants’ Dance”?
QUESTION SET #3 (a and b) • (3.a) On page 30 of “The Servants’ Dance,” what color-pallet does Charles, a dandy, “select from his wardrobe”? Both Charles and Leona wear Bermuda shorts. (3.b) What color are Leona’s shorts, and from what type of material are they made? Incidentally, the name Leona means “lion,” and the text later describes Charles as “[Leona’s] lion” (page 31).
QUESTION SET #4 (a through d) • Seeing and not seeing — and knowing and not knowing — emerge as crucial issues in “The Servants’ Dance.” For example: towards the end of the tale, Charles tells himself, “I simply must remember that I am an observer” (page 57). Shaded from public view by “old greenery” (page 30), Leona’s garden contains two statues. (4.a) Which of them is closest to the Hudson River? (Later, in a huff, the down-at-heel character Edward will “[balance] himself against” this object.) (4.b) On page 31, whose “beady … eyes” observe Charles and Leona as they stroll “arm in arm to the river”?
(4.c) What cannot be seen “[e]ven from the upstairs windows” of Leona’s house? (4.d) At least in Leona’s mind, what (according to page 32) is the relationship between that architectural or built object and a “boat”?
QUESTION SET #5 (a through e) • (5.a) In Charles’s view, what did Edward Tarnac “constantly … [parade] before” the coterie (or group) of friends (page 34), among whom George Harkey, Leona’s husband, is but a newcomer? (5.b) What do you think Charles means when he asserts, “The psychiatrists know about that” (page 34)?
Charles claims that Edward’s mode of speaking — how he “express[es] himself” — indicates that he is “capable of any gaucherie” (page 34). Too often, students read unfamiliar words without making the effort to look them up. Use and cite a reputable source (such as the Oxford English Dictionary) to answer the following: (5.c) What does the term gaucherie mean, and what is the meaning of the term belligerent (found on page 35)? Dolly Maitland, Leona’s immediate neighbor, invokes the latter term to describe past behavior on Edward’s part.
(5.d) How does Dolly describe the Tenley (page 37), a hotel or lodging-place on Washington Square — a section of Manhattan long used for public burials? (5.e) What connection does Charles have with the Tenley?
QUESTION SET #6 (a through c) • (6.a) On page 38, what reason is given for moving the date of the servants’ dance or ball in the Hudson River community of Herbert’s Retreat from St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)? (6.b) What piece of clothing has Charles brought for the event?
(6.c) At the prior year’s dance, of whom (according to Charles) were some of the participating “policemen … quite jealous”? Earlier, the narrator describes that individual as “tall … blond … strongly built,” with “regular, clean-cut, blue-eyed good looks” (page 37).
QUESTION SET #7 (a through d) • (7.a) What does Lewis Maitland mean when he describes the “atmosphere” at the prior year’s iteration of the servants’ dance as “almost primitive”? (7.b) Why, during the same conversation, does Charles Runyon invoke the term “positively feudal”?
(7.c) On page 41, what does Edward “[bellow]” from the clown statue? (7.d) What is George’s “occupation,” which Charles calls “almost exotic”?
QUESTION SET #8 (a through e) • The dance affords the maids of Herbert’s Retreat an opportunity to “escape” their conservative uniforms and present themselves in “bright colors” (page 42). Bridie, however, chooses a “matronly” black outfit (page 42). The narrator relates a conversation on the subject of Edward between Bridie and two other maids: Agnes and the new, young Josie, who work for the Gieglers and Maitlands, respectively. (8.a) Who does Bridie characterize as “that little Mr. God” (page 44); and what adjective does Agnes use to describe the “house” that Edward sold (page 44)? (8.b) Why has Bridie’s attitude towards Edward shifted so that she now promotes him as “a decent sort of a man” (page 44)?
(8.c) According to Josie, in what kind of New York City store did Dolly Maitland purchase the stockings that she (Dolly) celebrates as “the sexiest things” (page 45)? Full of resentment, Josie reflects that the female servants are regularly “left sitting” (page 46) at the dance. (8.d) What causes that undesirable outcome? (8.e) What verb, beginning with “b,” does Bridie use when suggesting a strategy that the maids could adopt — in a “very polite” fashion (page 47) — at the dance?
QUESTION SET #9 (a through e) • The dancehall scene opens with George sitting atop a dais or raised platform. He is nauseously drunk on Manhattans, a situation not helped by the “two tough pork chops” consumed during his solitary supper. (9.a) On page 48, how does the narrator spell the beverage that George pours from his “large silver flask” into a glass already used by someone else? Types of drink are important in this story; later (on page 50), Leona orders a “Scotch-and-water.”
(9.b) On page 49, what noun, beginning with “m,” does the narrator use when referring to the look with which Leona “regard[s]” George — a look he “[finds] particularly repellent”? (9.c) On page 51, what expression does George utter immediately after Charles insists, “This brawl means nothing to me …. I’m here to observe, not to dance”?
Leona refers to the men at the dance as “imported stalwarts” (page 51). Leona and Dolly identify three professions represented among these male dancers. (9.d) What are those professions? While sipping ginger ale, Charles (on page 52) calls the dais on which the employers sit “a charming thought.” (9.e) Why does he “adore” his perch atop the dais?
QUESTION SET #10 (a through e) • (10.a) Beginning with the statement “You’re stuck” (page 53), what does George suggest to Leona and her peers? Charles doubts the truth of George’s assertion, referring to the servants’ “demeanor” to prove his point. (10.b) What, according to Charles, can the servants — “[t]hese people” — not control?
(10.c) What reason does Charles give for not being able to dance? (10.d) On page 55, what are George’s first three words (or sounds) in reaction to Charles’s explanation?
(10.e) On page 59, what does Bridie reveal to Charles — a matter that may leave her without “a friend in the place [i.e. Herbert’s Retreat]”?