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Mrs. Smith Sums It Up

Written in 1880 by A. Square (aka Edwin Abbott)

Schedule – We will discuss part I (chapters 1-12) on Monday June 7 and part 2 (chapters 13-22) on Monday June 14.

Use the vocabulary list as you read and respond to the chapter questions as you complete the chapters.  I will collect your responses no later than  June 18.

FLATLAND - Vocabulary

1. luminous (1oo' ma nas) adj. glowing; brilliant

2. inanimate (in an' a mit) adj. lifeless

3. antiquarian (an ti kwair ' ee uhn) n. an expert on or student of antiquities

4. manifest (man' a fest) adj. easily understood or recognized

5. sonorousness (so no' rous ness) n. having the character of a loud deep sound; the quality of being resonant

6. cognizance (kaug' na zans) n. awareness

7. static (stat' ik) adj. not moving; showing little change

8. kinetic (ki net' ik) adj. moving

9. irregularity (ir reg' yoo lar' ate) n. state of being irregular; geometric state of not having equal sides and angles

10. deviation (de' ve ~a shan) adj. departure from the norm

11. superfluous (sa per' floo as) adj. unnecessary; beyond what is needed

12. sedition (si dish' an) n. resistance to lawful authority; revolution

13. configuration (kan fig' yoo ra’ shan) n. shape; arrangement of parts or elements

14. dom inions (da min' yanz) n. regions ruled or controlled

15. multitudinous (mul ta tood' 'n as) adj. including a great many individuals; populous

16. infinitesimal (in' fin i tes' i mal) adj. immeasurably small

17. conjecture (kan jek' char) n. supposition; guess

18. palpable (par pa bal) adj. able to be touched or felt

19. succinct (suk sir]kr) adj. stated briefly and precisely

20. lucid (100' sid) adj. clear; easily understood


Chapters 1-4 Discussion Questions

1. How does the image of a penny on a table help readers visualize Flatland?

 2. Why is it difficult for Flatlanders to determine which way is North? How do they compensate for this difficulty?

 3. How do the shapes of Flatland's inhabitants reflect their social status?

 4. Flatland's citizens can recognize another person's status immediately by his or her shape. Compare this with the ways people in our society recognize others' status.

 5. How do you think the opening chapters of the novel would have been different if they had been told by someone other than a first-person narrator?

 6. Write a one- or two-paragraph description or create an illustrated identification chart of the land and the people of Flatland for someone who has not read the book.

 Chapters 5-8 Discussion Questions

1. Why is recognizing another person by sight a difficult task in Flatland?

 2. Describe three methods that an inhabitant of Flatland can use to recognize another inhabitant.

 3. What is "the art of painting" in Flatland? What practices in our society have a similar effect?

 4. Do you think the narrator of Flatland is reliable or unreliable? Why?

 Chapters 9-12 Discussion Questions

1. How does the Universal Colour Bill affect life in Flatland?

 2. How is "Chromatic Sedition" finally suppressed? What kinds of real-world events does this episode satirize?

 3. What tone of voice would you use if you were acting the part of the narrator? How does the narrator's tone affect the satire of the novel?

 4. How does the Flatland view of Irregularities in configuration relate to the question of whether nature or nurture has a greater influence on character development? How are Irregulars treated in Flatland society?

 Chapters 13-15 Discussion Questions

 1. How are Flatland and Lineland similar? How are they different?

 2. How does the character of the King of Lineland enhance Abbott's fantasy? Is he a realistic or an exaggerated character?

 3. Why does the narrator have difficulty explaining the two-dimensional world of Flatland to the King of Lineland?

 4. Why do you think Abbott introduces Lineland to the reader before the visitor from Spaceland arrives?

 Chapters 16-18 Discussion Questions

 1. What does the narrator see when the Sphere enters and leaves Flatland?

 2. How does the Sphere finally help the narrator understand the nature of Spaceland and three dimensions?

 3. What does the meeting between the Sphere and the narrator suggest about Abbott's purpose for writing this novel?

 4. How does the character of the narrator change after he visits Spaceland?

 5. Well-developed characters who have many realistic characteristics are someetimes called "three-dimensional." Would you use that word to describe the narrator of Flatland even though he literally has only two dimensions? Why or why not?

 Chapters 19-22 Discussion Questions

 1. Why does the narrator decide that his grandson would be most likely to understand about his visit to Spaceland?

 2. How do the inhabitants of Flatland respond to the narrator's tales?

 3. What is the tone of the narrator's final remarks? How does this tone affect the novel's conclusion?

 4. What theme about imagination and knowledge does Abbott's fantasy explore?

The complete book is available online.

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