Short Stories Socratic Seminar

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Short Stories Socratic Seminar

Directions: Read each story’s questions before reading the story, then read and annotate (highlight important passages and make notes) with the questions as your focus. Using your annotations, answer each story’s questions in your comp book. Your answers must be in bullet form, NO BLOCK TEXT. Use highlighted passages to support your answers. Quotes must be written in your comp book.
Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets”


  1. What do you believe is important to Tom? In other words, how does he assign value to his life? Answer both qualitatively and quantitatively. What role does wealth play? Why do you think this is true (consider theory in respect to his characterization)? How/why does the author use the threat of death to develop Tom’s character? Why/how does the threat of death have impact? Will the impact last for Tom? Why/why not? Which would be more beneficial (address grey areas and opportunity costs)? Was Tom’s prior life a waste? What message do you think the author conveys about society? Does the message have impact on you? Why/why not?

The Masque of the Red Death”



  1. What do you believe is important to Prince Prospero? In other words, how does he assign value to his life? Answer both qualitatively and quantitatively. What role does wealth play? Why do you think this is true (consider theory in respect to his characterization)? How/why does the author use the inevitability of death to illuminate Prospero’s character? How does death influence your interaction with the story (what are your emotions while reading)? Does money make one a better person than others (this is not a simple question)? Poe is a master of creating a sense of foreboding and suspense. He uses the Prince’s arrogance to achieve this in the story. Why is the prince arrogant (theory + characterization). How does the symbolism of the different colored rooms relate? Is arrogance the downfall of man? Or is it necessary for civilization to move forward (was Prospero’s life a waste)? Support your answer with real world examples (make sure to address the grey). What message do you think the author conveys about society? Does the message have impact on you? Why/why not?

How Much Land Does a Man Need?”




  1. What do you believe is important to Pahom? In other words, how does he assign value to his life? Answer both qualitatively and quantitatively. What role does wealth play? Why do you think this is true (consider theory in respect to his characterization)? Unlike the other stories, Pahom is not aware of the threat of physical death. Why not? At the same time, he is haunted by the devil. What might he symbolize? What is your opinion of how/why Pahom reacts to the haunting (consider theory in respect to his characterization)? Do you believe that man is wired for discontent and greed or does society teach this to man? Explain. What do you think about the ending? Was Pahom’s life a waste? Is it better for society to be discontent and greedy or satisfied and happy (address the greys)? How does this parable apply to today’s world and Pleasanton in particular? Is the simple life anti-American?

Civil Peace”



  1. What do you believe is important to Jonathan? In other words, how does he assign value to his life? Answer both qualitatively and quantitatively. What role does wealth play? Why do you think this is true (consider theory in respect to his characterization)? How/why does the author use the threat of death to develop Jonathan’s character? Why/how does the threat of death have impact? Does Jonathan’s optimistic and entrepreneurial drive help or hinder his family in the short and long run? Explain. Why is “Civil Peace” an appropriate title for this story? What cost do the villagers pay to keep peace with the current system? What is the benefit? Is it worth it? Are there better alternatives? Explain. Is Jonathan’s life a waste?


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