the narrator believe the woman sitting across from her in the
train is unhappy? What details of her appearance or demeanor
lead her to that conclusion? Is she really unhappy? Do the details
of Minnie's life imagined by the narrator correspond to her
actual situation? What does the ending of the story suggest
in this respect? What is the source of the narrator's perceptions?
Who is this story really about?
the significance of the newspaper, The Times, which the
narrator holds? What kind of information does the newspaper
offer? Is it accurate? Is is true? Any relation to the magazine,
Truth, James Moggridge reads? What is the source of these
publications' ideas and opinions? How do these publications
relate to the novel which the narrator is trying to write? How
does the story's or the narrator's novel's approach to the truth
differ from that of the magazine and the newspaper? Are there
aspects of reality which can only be apprehended through imagination?
What does the narrator do with the newspaper? Why does she call
the newspaper a shield? Why is it said that Minnie's eyes pierced
through that shield and gazed into the narrator's eyes? What
happens when their eyes meet? Why is it necessary to see beyond
what the newspaper says?
the significance of characters like Hilda and James Moggridge?
What kinds of values and way of life do they represent? What
are their main concerns in life? Are they happy or unhappy?
What is problematic about them? How do such characters compare
to, for example, the bourgeois in Flaubert's Madame Bovary?
How do Hilda and Moggridge differ from Minnie? How do they look
at Minnie? How does society look at people like Hilda and Moggridge?
How does society judge Minnie? Who does the narrator sympathize
or identify with? How do characters like Hilda and Moggridge
relate to the historical context and social situation relevant
to the story? What issues are raised through their presence
and role in the story?
the significance of Minnie's rubbing of the spot on the train's
window? What does the gesture suggest? Is the gesture replicated
anywhere else? In whom? What about Minnie's twitching? Are there
repressed or unconscious desires at work in the story? What
may they be? What are the sources of the oppression or repression?
What about the nature of the repressed aspirations and desires?
How are they manifested in the details of the story?
event does the narrator imagine in Minnie's past? What are the
circumstances, details, and consequences of that event? What
hidden guilts does Minnie harbor? Was the accident alluded to
entirely her fault? What issues are raised by that situation?
What roles of women are questioned by the story?
the meaning of the eggshells remaining from Minnie's lunch?
How about her concern with the price of eggs? Do the narrator
and Minnie think similarly? Is the real Minnie more similar
to the narrator or to Hilda? What might eggs symbolize? How
may eggs relate to the issues raised by the story concerning
the accepted roles of women in society? Why are the eggshell
fragments like a map or a puzzle? What do they signify?
James Moggridge's profession? How does that relate to the concerns
of the story? Is he a sympathetic character? How does he treat
Minnie? What is the significance of the scenes where he is imagined
visiting Hilda and her family? Why is it said that "the
fronds of the aspidistra only partly concealed the commercial
traveller"? How is he described as he eats his meal? What
kind of creature does Moggridge seem to be? What does this suggest?
What does he represent? Do any of these details have any connection
to the historical context of the story? How does the narrator
feel about the dominance of people like Moggridge in real life?
Woolf's attitude toward religion and the idea of God as seen
in this story? How is God brought up? Through what details?
What comments are made regarding Minnie's praying and belief
in God? Who is God compared to? Who is Kruger? Who is Prince
Albert? How is God similar to or different from them? How is
such a God related to other societal forces or values represented
in the story? Is this God a liberator or an oppressor? How are
God and other social forces and values experienced by people
like the narrator and the imagined Minnie?
the arrival of Minnie's son at the train station destroy the
narrator's fantasy about Minnie? Is the narrator completely
wrong in her assessment of Minnie? Are there things about Minnie
which Minnie might not know but which the narrator understands?
Does the reader learn more about Minnie or about herself during
the course of the story? What does the reader learn about Minnie?
About the narrator? Do the two have anything in common?
the "Mysterious figures
Mother and son" that
the narrator alludes to? What do they represent? What does the
narrator want? What is she seeking? Does she want to be a "mother"?
In what sense? Can motherhood have different meanings? What
sort of procreation takes place in the story?
envision any solutions to the unhappiness and oppression of
people like Minnie and the narrator in the story? What may those
solutions be? How may the "adorable world" of imagination
be related to those solutions? How does imaginative or artistic
creation relate to the variety of social and historical problems
alluded to in the story?