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QUESTIONS ON “SHAME’

THE FACTS

1. Where did the narrator learn shame?

2. What did the narrator do for Helene Tucker? How important was she in his life?

3. According to the narrator, why could he not do well in school? What did his teacher

think?

4. What event at school caused shame to control the narrator’s life for a long time?

Summarize what happened.

5. What did the author dislike about the Worthy Boys Annual Christmas Dinner?

THE STRATEGIES

1. The narration begins in paragraph 3, following two paragraphs of commentary about

Helene Tucker, a girl on whom the narrator had a crush. What is the purpose of the

preliminary paragraphs?

2. What dominant impression is always in the background of the narration? Why?

3. Beginning with paragraph 9, the narrator adds conversation to the narration. What is

the effect of this technique?

4. What is the main theme (lesson about life) revealed in this story? Is it implied or

stated?

5. In paragraph 5, what is the purpose of repeating the word “pregnant?” What does the

author mean?

THE ISSUES

1. Do you agree with the narrator’s comment that “everybody’s got a Helene Tucker?”

What does Helene Tucker symbolize? Give an example of a Helene Tucker from your

own experience.

2. The teacher thought the narrator was a troublemaker? Was he really, or was there

another reason for drawing attention to himself?

3. Why did the teacher humiliate the narrator when he announced that his father would

donate fifteen dollars? Do you think the teacher should have handled the situation

differently? If so, how should she have reacted?

4. The narrator states that he thought the teacher liked him because she always picked

him to clean the blackboard on Friday. Why do you think she picked him?

5. Did the narrator do the right thing by not going back to the school often after the

shame incident? What kept him away? Do you empathize or do you think the

narrator was oversensitive?

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