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English 10: Class Notes  Notes on "The Trout"

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Today the two classes discussed answers to the four questions on Sean O'Failain's story, "The Trout." 

Morning and afternoon class answers to each question follow the questions (in italics) from the teacher.

1. Julia is a “round character” (we know many things about her). Describe her character (her personality). Use three of her actions as support for your ideas—one from the beginning, one from the middle, and one from the end of the story.

Morning Class Answer:

Julia is an active, playful, enthusiastic, adventurous, vital young girl. We can see this in her special game at The Dark Walk, which she plays as soon as she arrives at “G.” Also, she is thoughtful, since she thinks to include her younger brother in the fun for the first time that year.

Julia is a skeptical, curious, suspicious, haughty, stubborn, hesitant, confident young girl. She is, in a way, a mix of youth and adult behaviour. She doesn’t believe automatically any more what her elders tell her, particularly the stories from her parents about where the trout had come from.

Her action (releasing the trout) shows she is caring, thoughtful, mature, kind, selfless, and generous. She comes to this conclusion after thinking about it, and also trying something else—feeding the fish. She made a good plan, and was quite brave to go out at night to The Dark Walk and rescue the fish.

Afternoon Class Answer:

Julia is an active, energetic, confident, humorous, brave, suspicious, questioning young girl.

At the beginning, she runs to The Dark Walk and “raced into it” and “screamed with pleasure and raced on to reach the light.” This shows her active, energetic nature.

Her questioning and suspicious nature is shown in the paragraph where she suspects the story about the well.

In the last paragraph Julia’s confidence and humour is shown when she says to her brother, “Fairy godmother, I suppose?” and then pats “the palms of her hands.”

2. Julia is a “dynamic character” (a character who learns something). What does she learn? How does she learn it?

Morning Class Answer:

Young children are generally self-centered in life. Everything seems to circle around what they need. Julia learns that some things are important to do outside herself (selfless behaviour) and how to decide by herself without anyone telling her it is the right thing to do. She learns it by planning and doing the action of releasing the trout.

Afternoon Class Answer:

Julia learns how to use her mind in a logical way to solve a problem. She also learns something from her mother: Julia knows now how to tell the same kind of stories as her, especially when she does it with her little brother at the end.

She also learns how to be selfless; in other words, she acts for the welfare of the fish, without any compelling reason to do so. No one tells her to do it. She acts as a person with free will. This is adult behaviour.

3. In this story, the setting (where the story happens, the characteristics of the place itself) is important. The setting of The Dark Walk affects Julia in at least two different ways. Describe the two effects.

Morning Class Answer:

At first, The Dark Walk is very scary or frightening for Julia, but part of this is her own imagination. Later, she is now more familiar because she has gone there to see the trout many times. So, she is able to go at night, in the dark, and free the fish without fear.

Afternoon Class Answer:

The Dark Walk shows Julia’s fear of darkness and the unknown in the game she plays at first.

The Dark Walk promotes Julia’s maturity, by forcing her to face her fear of the dark. She goes there quite freely to see the trout on more on one occasion and at night to rescue the fish, finally.

4. Julia has a strong opinion about her parents’ stories. Explain what this conflict (difference of opinion) shows about her. Also, how are her father and mother’s stories different? What do their stories show about them?

Morning Class Answer:

She doesn’t believe the stories of her mother, in particular, any more. This is part of growing up for children in some traditions. When something is difficult to explain, parents make up a story to explain it (temporarily) until the child is old enough. The mother’s story is more magical (fairy godmother) and the father’s is more scientific and logical. It probably shows that the mother is more experienced with younger children, so knows what level a child is ready to hear about. The son loves the mother’s little story.

Afternoon Class Answer:

Julia’s conflict with her parents’ stories shows that she is starting to grow up and no longer accepts “magical” explanations. But, for Julia, it is even more important that she understand “how” the fish can live in such poor conditions and then, on “how” to fix the problem.

The mother’s story is “magical” and is typical of good mothers in certain cultures, who give such stories to the children as necessary. The father’s story is typical of men, who like to make everything into something logical and scientific. The stories of both parents, however, are less effective than Julia’s practical approach to solving the fish’s problem.




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