Chapter 1 – Christmas Eve

Your homework (due Monday) is to answer a series of questions on Chapter 1. I am looking for detailed responses including quotes. Those of you pushing for an A/A* should start to think about linguistic techniques.

  1. When Arthur starts his narrative, what time of year is it and what time of day?
  2. What is the weather like?
  3. Describe the inside of the house.
  4. At this point in the story, how do you think Arthur is feeling?
  5. Summarise Arthur’s history.
  6. Describe how Arthur came to buy Monk’s Piece, why do you think this detail is included?
  7. From the comments that Arthur makes, what do this feelings towards Mr Bentley appear to be?
  8. Summarise Arthur’s description of the children, why are they depicted in such detail? Why do they not appear in the rest of the story?
  9. Why do you think Arthur describes the drawing room in such detail? What impression do you get of it?
  10. What hints are there that Arthur is about to tell a ghost story which has overshadowed the rest of his life?

Here are a few pointers to help you  analyse the opening chapter – challenging you to get your literature cap back on after all of the language exam focus.


Chapter 1  …

  • Set at some time during the 1930s. We are introduced to Arthur Kipps.
  • Arthur begins by explaining how he is affected by the weather.
  • Arthur describes how he came to live at Monk’s Piece – stumbling across it while out on a ride with his employer, Mr Bentley. Arthur is a solicitor and has worked for Mr Bentley for many years.
  • Arthur is married to Esme and lives with her four children from a previous marriage. They have been happily married for fourteen years.
  • It’s Christmas Eve and Arthur is at home with Esmé and her children when the boys begin telling ghost stories. Telling ghost stories is a Chirtsmas tradition – links to Dickens (A Christmas Carol).
  • The family encourage him to tell a ghost story.
  • Arthur is very reluctant to do this and he becomes uneasy going to walk outside.
  • Eventually he rejoins the party, but not before deciding to write down his own ghost story – the story of his past that had been the ‘shadow’ which had haunted him…
  • And now the real story begins.

First person framed narrative

  • Written from Arthur’s point of view – consider the effect of this personal response.
  • Framed – A story within a story. Think Tropic Thunder as a film within a film or even the start of Austin Power’s Goldmember where it turns out the open scene is being filmed by Steven Speilberg. Those of you pushing for A/A* the framed narrative is used by Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales, Edgar Allen Poe in The Fall of the House of Usher and also Don Quixote by Cervantes
  • Creates even more suspense – is a ghost story convention
  • To provide a contrasting setting to the one that the protagonist is familiar with – Eel Marsh House is the complete opposite to his own home Monk’s Piece.

Foreshadowing coupled with a sense of the unspoken (Arthur withholding information)

  • To be a warning or an indication of a future event.
  • “Yes, I had a story, a true story, a story of haunting and evil, fear and confusion, horror and tragedy.” Leaves the reader questioning.
  • Arthur informs us that he is ‘prone to a series of nervous illnesses’ due to previous events.
  • When he moved to Monk’s Piece with Esme she believed he would come out of the ‘long shadow cast from the events of the past’. Start to consider possible interpretations of Chapter 1 – challenge yourself. Other areas of focus include the use of the weather, water imagery and contrasts. Next Monday we will look in more detail at this chapter – specifically Hill’s use of contrast.

Start to consider your interpretations of Chapter 1 and the character of Arthur – challenge yourself. Other areas of focus include the use of the weather, water imagery and contrasts. Next Monday we will look in more detail at this chapter – specifically Hill’s use of contrast.

Miss O


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