“The Possibility of Evil” (Shirley Jackson) Response Package

  1. Describe the setting.
When: The story presumably occurs in the 1950s, which is evident from the fact thexternal image Naay_E4AQ5AMz4fWZFVByUq1ziYO51f_C3UvsPFLeoLPuLtEo2tx1FG5gCh2uiF9tyLlwTItLlYKeFLzR9Qs-NrQzw=s512at the features of the town, such as shops, seem to be old fashioned.

Where: The story occurs in a small city, which is shown from the fact that Miss Strangeworth "...knew everyone in town." In the story, the city is presented as a neat city, which is seen from the well-organized layout of the city.

Atmosphere: Despite the nice and neat looking of the city, the atmosphere of the city is filled with anxiety, tension and suspense.

2. Describe/discuss the character of Miss Adela Strangeworth.
Miss Adela Strangeworth an extremely self - centered person who thinks she has the highest position in town; she thinks she is the "queen" of the town. This characteristic trait makes her think that she is flawless while other people in the town are not. Also, it makes her want people to behave the way she wants them to, where she writes letters to tell them the way they should behave.

3. How long has Miss Strangeworth lived in her town? Discuss her ties to the town and infer how this makes her feel about her position there.
Miss Strangeworth "...had never spent more than a day outside this town in all her long life." The fact that she has been living in her town all her life makes her become strongly connected with the town by knowing all the people in the city. The fact that her grandfather was the founder of the town made her think she is the head of the town, and that she has the ability to rule the whole town.

4. Discuss how the town’s visitors respond to Miss Strangeworth’s roses. Explain how she responds.
The tourists admired Miss Strangeworth's roses and often asks her if she could give away some to them. This is because the roses look very beautiful that they wonder if Miss Strangeworth can take them away. Miss Strangeworth responds by not agreeing to give away the roses to anyone who asks her for the roses. Since her grandfather founded the town, making her think that her family is an important family to the city, she thinks the roses are very precious since they are inherited from her grandparents' generation.

5. Explain how the people in town react and respond to Miss Strangeworth. What do you think their impression of her is?
People react and respond with respect to Miss Strangeworth nicely like when they react and respond to other people.
I believe that they think Miss Strangeworth is a familiar fixture in the town, because they believe that she does not deserve the highest position of the town that they should give high respect especially to her.

6. Discuss the relationship between Tommy Lewis and Miss Strangeworth and explain how that relationship has changed over the years. Infer what might have been the basis of the relationship. Then explain how and why it changed.
Tommy Lewis and Miss Strangeworth went to school together and were close friends when they were young. However, over the years, their relationship changes; they are not close friends anymore. Their relationship is rather like the relationship between a queen and a servant. This might be because Miss Strangeworth considers herself to be the queen of the town that other people in the town are "lower" than her. Since Mr. Lewis is a shopkeeper, who serves people in his grocery store, Miss Strangeworth then treats him like a servant. This makes him start to respect her more as well, which is seen from the fact that he calls her "Ms. Strangeworth," no longer "Addie."

7. Describe Ms. Harper as she reaches for her pocketbook. Explain what Mrs. Strangeworth thinks about Martha’s behavior.
As Ms. Harper reaches for her pocketbook, her hand shook slightly. Ms. Strangeworth wondered if Ms. Harper has been taking good care of herself or not, since she thinks Ms. Harper looked not as young as she used to be, and she "...definitely did not look well."

8. Mrs. Strangeworth meets Helen Crane, the mother of a six month old infant, and Miss Chandler, the librarian. Discuss her interactions with them and her observations about them.
Miss Strangeworth interacted with the two ladies by talking to them nicely and show out her positive attitudes. She observes and thinks that Mr. and Mrs. Crane are infatuated parents and their baby is not developing well like other babies. She also observes and thinks that Miss Chandler "...seemed absentminded and very much as though she were thinking about something else." Also, she observers that Miss Chandler had not "...taken much trouble with her hair that morning...". When she talks to Mrs. Crane and Ms. Chandler, she does not tell them directly about what she thinks of them. For example, she does not tell Mrs. Crane that she thinks her baby is not growing properly, and also that Miss Chandler seemed absentminded and had not taken much trouble with her hair that morning.
The way Mrs. Strangeworth interacts with the two ladies makes them not to feel suspicious of her for writing the evil letters to everyone in the town since she is too nice to be writing them. Miss Strangeworth is able to observe flaws in the two ladies she comes across only. She does not find the good aspects of the two ladies at all. This reflects the fact that she thinks she is the only flawless person in the city when every other people in the city possess flaws in themselves.

9. There is a revealing statement (p. 215) about how the town views Miss Strangeworth. Explain what that is and why.
Statement: "But the town was proud of Miss Strangeworth and her roses and her house."
The statement above states that everyone living in the town were proud of Miss Strangeworth and her beautiful roses and her house. This is because people are impressed with the fact that she keeps herself, her roses and her house always beautiful and neat.

10. Explain the difference between the papers Miss Strangeworth uses to write letters. discuss the other ways in which these letters differ.
When Miss Strangeworth wrote other letters, she used a pad of various-colored paper brought from the local newspaper shop. They had a lot of colors that include, pink, green, yellow and blue. The matching envelop of each colored paper also differs.

11. Discuss the purpose of Miss Strangeworth’s letters.
Since Miss Strangeworth thinks other people in the city have flaws except for her, and that she is the "highest" that she can rule everything in the city, she writes the letters in order to tell people to behave the way she wants them to.

12. Why does Miss Strangeworth lie about the goings on in her town?
She wants everything to go her own way because she thinks that the town belongs to her.

13. Explain what Miss Strangeworth sees as her role in the community.
She sees herself as a peace keeper and that she's the only one who can keep the community peaceful. Without her, the evil will occur.

14. After finishing the letters, Miss Strangeworth sets down to tea. discuss the irony of her thoughts after writing the letters. Explain Miss Strangeworth’s idea of “live(ing) graciously” (218). Then, prove that she is not.
At a moment, Miss Strangeworth felt kind of bad for writing those mean letters but she tells herself that, "People must live graciously..."

15. Explain why Miss Strangeworth never suspects the children of laughing or mocking. What does this prove about her opinion of herself.
She never suspects the children of laughing or mocking because whenever they see her, "Most children stood back respectfully as Miss Strangeworth passed, silenced briefly in her presence, and some of the other children greeted her, saying soberly, "Hello, Miss Strangeworth."

16. Miss Strangeworth overhears a conversation between Dave Harris and Linda Stewart. Discuss the content of the conversation and explain Miss Strangeworth’s role in it.
When Miss Strangeworth overheard a conversation between Dave Harris and Linda Stewart and decided to listen carefully because she kept in mind that this was her town. If her townspeople were in trouble, she ought to know about it. The content of this conversation was that Linda was telling Dave that her father says that he can't go near their house anymore and her father is very upset along with her who has been crying and crying. Little did they know, Miss Strangeworth was the one who sent a letter to Linda's parents telling them that Dave did something inappropriate to her.

17. Miss Strangeworth thinks that there is “so much evil in people. Even in a charming little town like this one” (220). Explain what the evil is.
In Miss Strangeworth's point of view, evil meant the things that people were doing incorrectly.

18. Explain how the townspeople discover Miss Strangeworth’s role in the letters being sent to citizens. How do they get Miss Strangeworth back?
Miss Strangeworth accidently dropped a letter assigned to Don Crane while she was mailing her letters but she didn't heart the Harris boy calling to her. He decided to help her bring it to Don Crane personally because it might be a check or good news. Receiving the letter was both good and bad. The disadvantage was that the letter was very mean and whoever receives it, wouldn't be very happy. Apart from that, it was also an advantage because now, the townspeople know who is causing all the chaos and sending the mean letters. Later, they took revenge on her roses since they knew that the roses were very important to her.

19. Examine the last sentence of the story. How does Miss Strangeworth view her punishment? How does she view what she has done? Explain the irony of this.
The last sentence of this story was, "She began to cry silently for the wickedness of the world when she read the words: LOOK OUT AT WHAT USED TO BE YOUR ROSES." To her, she thought that she was only trying to help out and make things better for people but never thought that it was wrong. The irony of this story was that she never thought that any of those letters would be mailed back to her since she had never signed her name on them. Unfortunately, the Harris boy picked it up when she accidently dropped it and decided to help her take it to Don Crane and must have told him that Miss Strangeworth has unknowing dropped it when she was at the mailbox. This revealed the truth about who has been sending all the mean letters to the townspeople.

20. Draw a detailed map, from an overhead perspective, of the town illustrated in the story.

Include:

The name of the town.
Main Street
The Grocery
Pleasant St.
Miss Strangeworth’s House
Shanties on the low road
Park
Post Office
Church
Lumber Mill
High School
Library
Soda Shop
Newspaper Shop
The Stewart House
City Hall
The Police Station
The Fire Hall

The map needs to make sense according to the description given in the story.
The map should be neat with all the landmarks clearly labeled.
The map should be visually interesting.



Literary Devices

Short Stories - Literary Devises Title:_The Possibility of Evil_

Point of View: Third person, omniscient

Protagonist: Miss Adela Strangeworth

What type of character is the Protagonist?
The protagnist is a flat and static character.

Antagonist:
Miss Strangeworth's perception of evil.


Describe the setting:
When: The story presumably occurs in the 1950s, which is evident from the fact that the features of the town, such as shops, seem to be old fashioned.

Where: The story occurs in a small city, which is shown from the fact that Miss Strangeworth "...knew everyone in town." In the story, the city is presented as a neat city, which is seen from the well-organized layout of the city.

Atmosphere: Despite the nice and neat looking of the city, the atmosphere of the city is filled with anxiety, tension and suspense.


Type of Conflict:
Man vs Man
Man vs Society
Man vs Self

Describe the main conflict:
The main conflict of this story is her and her perception of evil.

Describe the Climax of the Story:
The climax of this story took place when Dave Harris picked up the letter addressed to Don Crane and decided to give it to him personally because he thought that it might be a check or good news.

How does the Protagonist change over the course of the story?
The protagonist doesn't change in the story but readers can assume that she finally realized that she was doing the wrong thing all along about sending the letters.

Describe the relationship between the title and the theme.
The title of the story reflects Ms. Strangeworth's characteristics and perception of evilness: stopping something, that she thinks is evil, from happening. This characteristic is hidden under the beautiful body of Miss Strangeworth. This has a relationship to the theme: Darkness being hidden under beautiful things; an imperfect characteristic is hidden under the physical beauty of Miss Strangeworth.

How does the main conflict help to illustrate the theme?
The main conflict shows that Miss Strangeworth has her own style of perception of evil. This makes her think everyone in the town has flaws in themselves except for her. The story describes Miss Strangeworth as a neat, beautiful and rich person. The conflict helps illustrate the theme by showing that Miss Strangeworth's beautiful body has a flaw hidden inside herself, which is her perception of evil: she thinks everyone has flaws when she does not: this is untrue because everyone all contains flaws in themselves.

How does the climax help to illustrate the theme?
The climax of this story was when Dave Harris picked up the letter that Miss Strangeworth dropped when she was about to mail her letters. She didn't hear him yelling after her and so he decided to personally deliver it to Don Crane instead. Later, the townspeople found out who was mailing all the mean letters to them. Therefore this illustrates the theme of the story by indicating that darkness can be hidden under beautiful things. On the outside, Miss Strangeworth seemed to be a very kind, gentle and caring lady. Little did the townspeople know that she was the one who had been causing all the flaws in the town.

Give examples of each of the following literary terms in the story (use quotes):

Simile:
“Miss Chandler seemed absentminded and very much as though she was thinking about something like else.”
"Miss Strangeworth took deep breaths and thought that there was nothing in the world like a fragrant summer day."

Metaphor:
"How old is Her Highness now?" - Miss Strangeworth is comparing the Crane's baby to a princess
"She drew the shades, took the rose satin spread from the bed..." - Ms. Strangeworth is comparing the color of the bedspread to the color of a rose.

Personification:
“The red and white roses masses along the narrow lawn”

Symbol:
Miss Strangeworth's roses- They represented her beauty, gracious and high-position.
The statues mentioned at the beginning of the story - they represent importance in a person
"Gold - frosted fountain pen" - Gold represents wealth

Foreshadowing (give both elements):
"The roses belonged on Pleasant Street and it bothered Miss Strangeworth to think of people wanting to carry them away..." - This quote shows that she thinks her roses are very precious that she does not want to give them away to other people, which foreshadows the end of the story, when people really take away her roses at the end of the story.

"Miss Strangeworth awakened the next morning with a feeling of intesnse happiness, and for a minute wondered why, and then remembered that this morning three people would open her letters." - This quote makes a hint to the end of the story, when she no longer has the feeling of "...intense happiness...".

Irony:
“She began to cry silently for the wickedness of the world when she read the words: LOOK OUT AT WHAT USED TO BE YOUR ROSES.”-This is an example of irony because it was the revenge that the townspeople made in return for the mean letters that she has written. She was surprised because she never signed her name on the letters but unfortunately, Dave Harris picked up one of her letters the other day and decided to hand it to Don Crane. This revealed the truth of who was sending those mean letters.

"Although Miss Strangeworth's desk held a trimmed quill pen which had belonged to her grandfather, and a gold-frosted fountain pen which had belonged to her father, Miss Strangeworth always used a dull stub of pencil when she wrote her letters, and she printed them in a childish block print." - This quote shows that although Miss Strangeworth has a better quality of stationeries and presumably a more sophisticated handwriting, she uses a "...dull stub of pencil when she wrote her letters and she printed them in a childish block print," which is unusual, since people tend to use the best things they have when writing letters.

Imagery:
“From halfway down the block Miss Strangeworth could catch the heavy scent of her roses...”
“The perfume of roses meant home...”

Describe the relationships between the class theme and the story.

The class theme of this semester is "Humanity," which is about every aspect about humans, such as human - related issues, consequences caused from human actions, identities of people and everything else that makes what it means to be human. The story strongly reflects the good and bad aspects of people in this story, especially Miss Strangeworth; the story describes her self - centered character traits and how they affect other people, causing chaos in the human community as a consequence. Therefore, the stoy relates to the class theme.