In our Literature class we analysed the short story «Sandpiper» and since the term tests are coming and we are having the IGCSE exam this year, our teacher, Pato, left us some question to answer in order to practice and revise.
1) Why did the woman want to avoid making patterns in the sand? Describe how she stepped on the path?
She claims that she liked trying to decipher the patterns made by nature alone, in this case, the pattern made by the sand made by being blown with the wind. And that she didn’t like changing the course of the sand being blown by the wind because she thought it was pointless trying to decipher a pattern that she had made herself. She describes stepping on the path only with the ball of her foot on the white spaces free of sand.
2) Explain this quote from the first paragraph of the story. “I had an idea that the patterns on the stone should be made by nature alone; I did not want one grain of sand, blown by a breeze I could not feel, to change the course because of me. What point would there be in trying to decipher a pattern that I had caused.”
As I said before, in this quote, the voice describes that she liked when nature worked on its own, without being modified. And that she didn’t want to disturb this because she liked admiring and trying to decipher the pattern that the sand had made on the floor, therefore, she claims that she walks trying not to chnge the course of the sand because it would be pointless trying to decipher the pattern that she had caused.
3) Describe how the woman balances and looks for the next space not covered by sand. Is this a reflection of how she is balancing between two cultures and countries, trying to do nothing wrong to upset her husband’s family?
The woman balancing and looking for the next space not covered by sand. is definitely a reflection of how she is balancing between two cultures and countries because she tries to step between the both, meaning that she misses and wants to remain loyal to her original country but at the same time she wants to be able to adapt to this new country. And the fact that she barely and carefuly steps reflects the fact that she doesn’t want to disturb anyone with her adapting issues and her struggles.
4) The seaside is a place where she seems to seek peace from the tensions and changing husband and Egyptian culture. How is the sea an extended metaphor for the woman’s life and the changes that have happened? Is the sea constant or always changing?
The sea refclets her life as they are both constantly changing, but I also believe that it reflects her state of mind. The water rolls in and draws back while all throughout the story she talks about the present but constantly makes reference to the past.
5) What is the image that is presented where the unnamed woman says, “I used to sit in the curve and dig my hands into the grainy, compact sand and feel it grow wetter as my fingers went deeper and deeper till the next rippling, frothing rush of white came and smudged the edges of the little burrow I had made. Its walls had collapsed and I removed my hand, covered in wet clay, soon to revert to dry grains that I would easily brush away.
6) Does the last sentence in the above quote mirror the woman’s attempt to try and understand what has happened to her husband, marriage and her inability to grasp the Egyptian way of life that is imposed on her when she visits Egypt each summer?( look at the images of the crumbling walls, wet hands and dry grains easily brushed away)
7) Why does she continually revert back to her own culture and the way of life she experiences and lives in Britain? Why can she not accept the Egyptian way of life?
She still misses her native country, her culture and habbits. She wants to adapt to the Egyptian lifestyle and culture for her daughter but at the same time she can’t because she despices the fact that it was when they came to this country that she got to know her husband, and she did not like him.
8) Describe the imagery in paragraph 2 and what does this metaphorical language really represent?
9) Describe the times the woman and her husband had been happy, contented with one another and deeply in love. Use relevant quotes to back up your answer.
10) List the style of life the couple lived in the U.K. and explain the quotation, P731, “I thought of those things and missed them- but with no great sense of loss. It was as though they were all there, to be called upon, to be lived again whenever we wanted.”
The couple used to live in a «cosy flat, precarious on top of a roof in a Georgian square» and they had different habits, such as him meeting her at the bus-stop once she returned from work, sitting in the park while reading their newspapers on Sundays when it didn’t rain and going late at night to the movies. In the quotation she claims that she remembers and misses all those things but doesn’t feel as if they’re gone nor lost, she feels that anytime that they want, they can go back and return to that old lifestyle.
11) Explain the quite in relation to the woman’s feelings and difficulties. “ I tried to understand that I was on the edge, the very edge of Africa; that the vastness ahead was nothing compared to what lay behind me…my mind could not grasp a world that was not present to my senses.” (P371)
12) 2. Describe the woman’s feelings towards her coming baby (p371)
The woman narrates that, at that time, she was very excited. She expresses that her body had been preparing for that moment for seventeen years and that it had finally arrived. Nature had worked admirably. She loved her husband so much and now she was carrying thier child, but she claims that she wanted even more as she was so smitten to that love.
13) “From where I stand now, all I can see is a dry, solid white. The glare, the white wall, and the white path narrowing in the distance” Explain how this refers to her state of mind, marriage and relationship with the people of Egypt.
14) P372. What is the effect of the repetition of “I should have gone” three times and “I should have turned, picked up my child and gone.” How do these words impact on the woman’s situation?
This words and phrases are very striking as they show the woman’s regret for staying there and her desire to go back in time and make everything right in order to be happy.
15) List the things the woman finds strange in Egypt throughout the story. What does she want to do?
16) What implications do these words have on the woman’s life and her child? “She was born here…belonged her.” (P734) What would happen if the mother wanted to leave her husband in Egypt?
She had a huge desire of returning to England, but she couldn’t because her daughter had been born and raised, she didn’t know anything but Egypt, her husband’s country was her daughter’s home and there was nothing she could do about it, she couldn’t force her daughter to move away from her home.
17) In her sleep she makes use of me, my breast is sometimes her pillow, my lap her footstool. I lie content, glad to be of use.” Explain the quote and how do you think the woman is coping being waited on hand and foot by the family’s maid?
All throughout the day her help is refused, she is told to rest, to keep her hands nice and soft and told to go to the club but she can’t as she doesn’t speak the language. She feels useless so when her daughter uses her as a pillow she feels glad that she finally is of some use which to me, shows how miserable her life was there.
18) Why include the image of the Pakistani woman with her son curled up beside her at the airport and explain the words, “All her worldly treasure was on that sofa with her, and so she slept soundly.”
19) The main character keeps referring to her trip to the African continent and how she took notes. “I leaf through my notes. Each one carries a comment and a description meant for him…What story can I write?”
20) How do you think an educated, liberated woman would feel being told about “the inferior status of women courteouslybecause being foreign, European, on a business trip, I was an honorary man”? (P373)
21) Is Egypt a country where women are liberated, able to make their own decisions and live as they like or is it male dominated? Do you think that this is something that may have driven a wedge in the marriage with the clash of different cultural values from the east and West?
Egypt is a country that is male dominated, it has mainly male influence and I believe this affected their marriage in the way that he might be the one who ‘wears the pants in the relationship’. He must make all the decisions and might probably be chauvinistic. This probably affects their marriage as well in the aspect that the cultures clash, because he comes from a country where women aren’t liberated and are underrated, while she comes from a country where women have pretty much equal rights as men.
22) Describe the parent’s relationship with their daughter.