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September 08, 2014

"The Greatest Gift" by Phillip Van Doren Stern (1943)


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Class,

In the comment box below,

. . . the note-taker/scribe from each group should retype the question your group discussed today in class and provide an answer with quotations from the text to support your answers. You MUST put the page number (or, paragraph number if there are no page numbers) in parentheses after any quotation used.

Enter your work on this text as prescribed in class. For example:

Remember: I have to "approve" all comments so you won't see it immediately after posting. After hitting submit, you should see a screen that confirms this.

We are beginning to use some concepts in our discussions that you may or may have had practice using before. I want to be sure that you have a clear understanding of the words we use in class (no more blank stares!) so be sure you are looking up words you don't feel you yet "own" (means, making it a part of your personal vocabulary) by utilizing your dictionaries to the fullest.

~Dr. Hobbs

_____________________________________

To see other English-Blog entries on the subject of Literature, please click HERE.

Posted by lhobbs at September 8, 2014 09:12 AM

Readers' Comments:

Shyra. B
Sam. W
Dr. Lee Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing CA07
19 October 2014

Question:
Using the EXACT instructions and information from the homework question handout (on the course Libguides page in the homework tab) on the subject of the “SLU core values” briefly discuss the use (or, disuse) of COMMUNITY in EITHER (a.) “The Greatest Gift” by Phillip Van Doren Stern, OR (b.) Young Goodman Brown’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne. As with all homework/group work questions, be sure to incorporate quoted passages from the text properly cited in MLA format- support your answer/ thesis.
Answer:
Community is a group of common people that work together to form a world of their own, that encourages people to grow and expand the world. Saint Leo’s core value Community focusses more on their individual idea of community in Christian’s point of view, rather than our definition on Community focusing on the community as a whole and engaging in changing the world as a community and in different point of views from different perspectives. One example of Community would be within an individual family. Each individual comes from a family of different values and ideals that the family as a whole follows together. How is Community represent in The Greatest Gift? Community is represented in the Greatest Gift by the Protagonist feeling disconnected in the beginning of the story, having a strong realization in the middle of the story, and in the end, he chose to work hard on becoming a better member of the Community. On page 5 in paragraph one he states “ I use to know this town pretty well, I knew some of the townspeople, I remember the girl named Marry Thatcher: she married Art Jenkins, I heard, you must know her” This statement proves that he was involved in the community and knew people from the community that he could relate to.

Posted by: Shyra.B and Sam.W at October 20, 2014 02:21 PM

At last! Someone with real exretpise gives us the answer. Thanks!

Posted by: Ahmed at November 15, 2014 08:43 PM

DO OVER
Gabriela Navarro
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
19 November 2014

QUESTION #3: Note clues that help you determine when and where the story takes place. What is the context of the story?

ANSWER:
The story takes place in 1940, which is the same year the U.S. entered WWII, and other wold conflicts began to take place. As Old Phoenix said, "Up through pines," she said at length. "Now down through oaks" (Welty, 2), she describes the area she is at, or should it be more explained as a path through the country side hills and forest. Phoenix Jackson's world is much smaller than the global world of international warfare. Her world revolves around her home, her grandson, and the rural life of Natchez, Mississippi.

Posted by: Gabriela Navarro at November 19, 2014 03:28 PM

Gabriela Navarro
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
19 November 2014

QUESTION #1:
Why did George not see that the "little town straggling up the hill was bright and colored with Christmas lights"?

ANSWER:
The little town straggling up the hill was bright with colored Christmas lights, but George Pratt did not see them. He was leaning over the railing of the iron bridge, staring down at the black water. He was only focusing on the bad and not the greatness that is happening around. As the stranger that stopped him from falling into the water said, “Come, come, it can’t be that bad. You've got your job at the bank. And Mary and the kids. You’re healthy, young, […]" (Stern, 1), which presents knowledge to George that he is not being positive or optimistic about his life.

Work Cited

Stern, Philip Van Doren. The Greatest Gift. 1943

Posted by: Gabriela Navarro at November 19, 2014 03:40 PM

Emily Finck
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature
24 November 2014


Question: #8
What did George notice that seemed “wrong” with the bank, when he first reached it? What was supposed to be happening with the bank at this time (and wasn’t), that made George surprised? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical documentation) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.


Answer:
In Phillip Van Doren Stern’s short story “The Greatest Gifts,” the main character George notices that the “vault light” for the bank is supposed to be on but it not. (3). In fact, there were many small differences with the bank, for example, the “windows were dark and unwashed” and looked as if it was abandoned for years (3). The bank was supposed to be operational at this time but instead was up for sale. The bank scene is significant to the story as a whole because the main character is more important to his town than he thinks. This situation with the bank shows George just how significant his place in life is to the town. Without him in the picture the bank went belly up.

Posted by: Emily Finck at November 24, 2014 10:01 PM

Thomas Watson
Dr. B Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
29 November 2014

QUESTION #13: What ruse did George use to get his parents to speak with him? Did it work? Is there any evidence that they recognized him? What did he learn from them that night?

ANSWER:
George used the brushes as access to speak with his parents, personifying himself as a brush salesman. After his confrontation with the dog, George encountered his father and asked to talk to his mother. Afterward, he presented the brushes to his mom, “Good evening, ma’am,” he said politely. “I’m from the World Cleaning Company. We’re giving out a free sample brush. I thought you might like to have one. No obligation. No obligation at all...” His voice faltered. (Philip Van Doren Stern 4). In other words, it worked out for George.

However, they didn’t recognize him to whom he admits to himself early by their behaviors, as well as the dog’s demeanor. For example his dog, “Brownie!” George shouted. “Brownie, you old fool, stop that! Don’t you know me?” But the dog advanced menacingly and drove him back behind the gate. (Philip Van Doren Stern 4). His father stated, “I’ll chain this dog up. She can be mean with strangers.” (PhilipVan Doren Stern 4). Then admits to himself, “His mother, who was waiting in the hallway, obviously did not recognize him”(Philip Van Doren Stern 4).

What he learned from that night was that his life truly wasn’t worthless. His absence was the cause of misery for all his loved ones as well as the company he worked. From the text, “Change me back,” George pleaded. “Change me back—please. Not just for my sake but for others too. You don’t know what a mess this town is in. You don’t understand. I’ve got to get back. They need me here.” (Philip Van Doren Stern 6,7).

Posted by: Thomas Watson at November 29, 2014 01:36 PM

Allison Ward
Dr. B Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature
20 November 2014

Question #3
What was the “business” of the man who spoke to George on the bridge? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole?

Answer
The man who spoke to George on the bridge was his guardian angel. It is significant to the story because the angel shows him what life would be like if he were never born. George was being very selfish because he got “the greatest gift of all, which is life”, and he was “denying it.”

Posted by: Allison Ward at November 29, 2014 03:34 PM

Zailet Martinez
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
30 November 2014
Question #6:
Why did the stranger insist that George take his satchel? What was in the satchel? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.

Answer:
In the short story “The Greatest Gift” George is contemplating suicide but it is stop by a short person with blue eyes. I assume this short person it is some sort of elf. George says, “I might better be dead. Sometimes I wish I were. In fact, I wish I’d never been born!” and his wish is granted (Van Doren Stern, 2). Before leaving the elf leaves him with a satchel and gives him instruction on what to do with the material inside. “When the lady of the house comes to the door you give her this and then talk fast. “You say: ‘Good evening, Madam. I’m from the World Cleaning Company, and I want to present you with this handsome and useful brush absolutely free—no obligation to purchase anything at all,’” the short man instructs George to act as a salesman ( Van Doren Stern, 2). The stranger insisted on George taking the satchel because he knows that George will need answers to how the life he would have had turned out. The satchel contained the brushes that George gave out to his mother and wife to get answer that would help him clear up his mind and take back his wish. After seeing how his family and town had evolved without him, he made the decision to stay and realized how valuable how is.

Posted by: Zailet Martinez at November 30, 2014 10:12 PM

Shelby Rexroth
November 30th, 2014
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 210


14) Who is/was Harry, what happened to him, and why? What role did George actually play in Harry’s childhood? What was the result of George “never having existed”?

In the story, “The Greatest Gift” written by Phillip Van Doren Stern, Harry is the “spirit” that convinces George to not commit suicide and gives him the chance to experience “the gift of life.” Harry was a childhood friend to George in the past, who had died years ago.

Posted by: Shelby Rexroth at November 30, 2014 10:26 PM

Matt Weller
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 201CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
1 December 2014

Question #7:
What happened to the “scar” that was supposed to be on Hank’s maple tree and why was George always apprehensive about it? Was it ever there? Why, or why not? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.

Answer:
The “scar” on Hanks tree disappeared when George made the wish never to be born. George crashed his car into Hank’s tree before he made his wish and made a scratch into the bark of the tree. The “scar” then wasn’t there when George went to go check it out after he made his wish. “Hank must have repaired the scar or painted it over, for there was no sign of it” (Stern 3). George was too scared to talk to Hank about what he had done because he thought Hank would just get upset over him looking at the tree. The scar was on the tree before George made his wish, but then disappeared because he had wished he had never been born. This means that since George was never born, he could not have caused an accident into Hank’s tree. This is significant to George because this shows that his wish did come true.

Posted by: Matthew Weller at December 1, 2014 01:41 PM

Sharonda Byrd
B. LEE HOBBS
ENG 210CL
19 November 2014
The Greatest Gift
11. Who is/was Mary Thatcher, what happened to her, and why? What is the
Significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.
In the Greatest Gift Georges’ wife is Mary Thatcher. However when George wishes he was never born a guy name Arthur marries her instead. “Who did he marry? He demanded hoarsely. Both he and Art had courted Mary”, this quote illustrates that if George had not been born that Arthur would have automatically won ever Mary because there would have been no competition. Arthur is snaps at Mary in the story and pertains to be drunk because he hiccups. This is important because Mary’s life without George seems rougher because her husband illustrates that he is not very good to her.

Posted by: sharonda byrd at December 9, 2014 06:40 PM

Emily Buckley
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA12
23 February 2015

Question: What was unusual, to George, about the appearance of Mary’s children?
How “should” they have looked? What is the significance of this to the
narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text
(with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer, that appears in your
own words.

Answer: Mary’s children did not look like George because they were not his children. They looked like Art Jenkins because they were his children. “He looks just like Art Jenkins, George thought. Acts like him too.” Also when they heard footsteps on the porch, they looked upset and then Art Jenkins comes in the door loud and cruel. Mary and the children were not happy that he was home. “There was a heavy step on the porch. The boy looked frightened and backed away. George saw Mary glance apprehensively at the door.” This is significant to show George what Mary’s life would have been like if he were not born. It also highlights the contrast between when Art gets home and when George gets home.

Posted by: Emily Buckley at February 27, 2015 12:16 PM

Mallory Delay
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA12
27 February 2015

Question 10: Who is Art, what happened to him, and why? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole?

Answer: Art is Marty Jenkins brother, a friend that George met in school. Art started drinking when Marty went missing, and it now is "hard on his wife" (Stern 4) too. This is significant to the story because Art ends up marrying Mary and has kids with her. When George goes to see her, he sees just how bad Art treats Mary and the children. Stern writes that the boy "looked frightened" (Stern 6) and "Mary glanced apprehensively at the door" (Stern 6) when they heard the heavy footsteps of Art coming in the house. Having the narrator see Art living the life he once had, shows him what he's missing out on and that his life wasn't that bad.

Posted by: Mallory Delay at February 27, 2015 01:45 PM

Kathleen Sholl
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA 12
27 February 15

“The Greatest Gift” Discussion Question

Question 11: Who is/was Mary Thatcher, what happened to her, and why? What is the significance of this narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.

Answer: Mary Thatcher is George’s wife who is married to another man. She is married to another man beside George because he wished that he was never born, and that is what he got. “I remember a girl named Mary Thatcher. She married Art Jennings” (Stern 5). Because George was unsatisfied with his life, the stranger turns his world upside-down. The significance of this narrative as a whole is that people never really know what they truly have until it is gone. That being said, nobody in Georges previous life before his wish is in his new life playing the same roles. After he realizes what he had, he ultimately begs for his life back from the stranger. “Change me back-please. Not just for my sake but for others too” (Stern 6).

Posted by: Kathleen Sholl at February 27, 2015 11:52 PM

Kaitlin Murphy
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA12
1 March 2015

Question: How did the stranger on the bridge know so much about George’s life? Who was he, exactly? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.

Answer: “You know you shouldn’t think of such things and on Christmas Eve of all time! You’ve got to consider Mary and your mother too” (Van Doren Stern 1). The stranger on the bridge knows so much about George’s life because he is an angel that was sent to help George see what his life would be like if he were never born. This is significant to the narrative because without the stranger being introduced like this we, as the reader, we would not see him grant George’s wish never to be born. Therefore, we would never see the story unfold to understand why he wanted to end his life on the bridge.

Posted by: Kaitlin Murphy at March 1, 2015 06:34 PM

Selena Hammie
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing CA12
27 February 2015

“The Greatest Gift”

Question #12: .Who is/was Brownie, how did he react to George, and why? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole?

Brownie is George’s dog, when Brownie saw George “it hurled itself down the step, barking ferociously” (Stern page 4)because he did not recognize George. This is significant to the story because his parents did not recognize him either because they haven’t seen him since his brother, Henry died. He was there when Henry drowned and thought it would be a good idea to act as if he was never there.

Posted by: Selena Hammie at March 1, 2015 09:09 PM

Jorge Braham

Dr.Hobbs

Academic Writing II CA12

1 March 2015

The Greatest Gift

Question:

What was the “business” of the man who spoke to George on the bridge? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.

Answer:

The “business” of the man was to stop him from doing something that he was going to regret, and that was not necessary. He plays that character that would be on your shoulder like the little angel that tells you if this is a good idea or a bad one. He tells him not to jump off the bridge because he has a good life other people who love him and also that he has to look after for, his wife and kids. “Wouldn’t do what?” George asked sullenly. “What you were thinking of doing.” “How do you know what I was thinking?” “Oh, we make it our business to know a lot of things,” the stranger said easily.” (Stern pg.1)

Posted by: Jorge Braham at March 1, 2015 09:57 PM

Emma Riemer
Dr.Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA12
2 March 2015


The Greatest Gift

Question 8: What did George notice that seemed “wrong” with the bank, when he first reached it? What was supposed to be happening with the bank at this time (and wasn’t), that made George surprised? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole?

Answer:
The bank was dark and the window shades were left up, “the building was dark, and he knew he had turned the vault light on. He noticed, too, that someone had left the window shades up” (Van Doren Stern 3). This was a surprise to George because he is a bank clerk. He is the one that closes up the bank. This is significant because this shows that George no longer existed. Without George being alive the bank did not last. The bank was closed down and had been for ten years.

Posted by: Emma Riemer at March 2, 2015 01:04 AM

Rachel Addington
Dr. Hobbs
ENG122 Academic Writing II CA12
1 March 2015

Question: What “problem” did the stranger on the bridge have that George suddenly “solved” for him? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.
Answer: The “problem” the stranger had that George “solved” for him was that stranger had been trying to get George to reconsider committing suicide and found a loophole by granting George’s wish to have never been born. “I said I wish I’d never been born,” George repeated firmly. “And I mean it too.” The stranger’s pink cheeks glowed with excitement. “Why that’s wonderful! You’ve solved everything. I was afraid you were going to give me some trouble. But now you’ve got the solution yourself. You wish you’d never been born. All right! OK! You haven’t!” (Pg. 2) This is significant to the story as a whole because it shows what the town would have been like if George had never been born and reassured George the value of his life. It also was able to create an entertaining story line.

Posted by: Rachel Addinton at March 2, 2015 01:44 AM

Vallinique Martin
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA12
2 March 2015

Question: Why did the stranger to tell George to take his satchel? What was in his satchel?

Answer: Inside the satchel were brushes. The stranger wanted Pete to take his satchels so he could keep up with the brushes and sell them. “But take this anyway. It can’t do any harm and it may help.” He opened the satchel and displayed a number of brushes. “You’d be surprised how useful these brushes can be as introduction.” (Stern 2)

Posted by: Vallinique Martin at March 2, 2015 02:28 AM

Amanda Cannon
Dr. Hobbs
ENC 122 Academic Writing II CA12
25 February 2015

The Greatest Gift
Question #7: What had happened to the “scar” that was supposed to be on Hank’s maple tree and why was George always apprehensive about it? Was it ever there? Why, or why not? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.
Answer: George made a wish to have never been born (Van Doren Stern 3). When his wish came true, everything from his past was undone. The “scar” that was on Hank’s tree was no longer there. George did not like his new life”. His wish was later reversed. For the second time that night, George passed by Hanks house, “he stopped, peering down anxiously at the base of the tree. The scar was there, thank heaven (Van Doren Stern 13)!” George was taking his life for granted, and he felt he had no reason to live. When he soon had an opportunity to have a different life, he hated it. The “scar” being on the tree shows that George does appreciate his life.

Posted by: Amanda Cannon at March 2, 2015 09:32 AM

Matthew Beebe
Dr. B. Lee Hobs
ENG122 – Academic Writing II CAO3
October 7, 2015

Question: What did George wonder about the “paralyzingly cold” water? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.

Answer: “The water looked paralyzingly cold. George wondered how long a man could stay alive in it. The glassy blackness had a strange, hypnotic effect on him. He leaned still farther over the railing...” (Stern 1) He simply just wondered how long someone could last in the cold water. This story was about a man committing suicide on Christmas. He debated on whether or not to get in the cold water to drown himself and that the significance of this in the story.

Posted by: Matthew Beebe at October 7, 2015 10:48 AM

Zeida Alvarez
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA03
7 October 2015
Question: Who is/was Mary Thatcher, what happened to her, and why? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.
Answer: In “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern, Mary Thatcher is George Pratt’s wife, “George opened his mouth to ask how this stranger could know his wife’s name” (Stern, 2). When George was just the brush salesman and no one knew who he was, she was married to Art Jenkins, who was a drunk, “Both he and Art had courted Mary.” (Stern, 4), and also, “Naturally Art Jenkins would have gotten it if he had married Mary” (Stern, 4). It is suggested that she is in an abusive relationship with Art, “Her eyes were begging him to go” (Stern, 6). Mary is significant to the narrative because that was a driving force for George to go back to his normal life since he didn’t want to see Mary scared or with another man.

Posted by: Zeida Alvarez at October 7, 2015 04:37 PM

Cannelle Samson
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA03
7 October 2015


Question: What was unusual, to George, about the appearance of Mary’s children? How “should” they have looked? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.


Answer: In the short story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern, George, whose dream came true of not being born, finds it unusual that Mary’s children resemble Art Jenkins. George also found that Mary’s son acted exactly like Art himself. The young boy was carrying around a toy gun, pointing it at his sister and George, shooting them continuously. In the passage, as George analyzes Mary’s son he thinks, “He looks exactly like Art Jenkins. Acts like him too” (Van Doren Stern, 6). The significance of Mary’s son resembling and acting like Art Jenkins is to make it more realistic. It is to make George realize that Mary being married to someone else and having children with another person is possible without George in the picture. I believe that seeing Mary with another man and other children, makes him want his life back. The significance is that George took his family for granted, and when he saw Mary’s son resembling another man, George realized that he loved and missed his family. I believe that he realized that his life and family are worth living for. After being kicked out of Mary’s house by Art and getting shot by Art’s son, George realizes this: “Perhaps the boy was right, George thought when he reached the porch. Maybe he was dead, or maybe this was all a bad dream from which he might eventually awake. He wanted to find the little man on the bridge again and try to persuade him to cancel the whole deal” (Van Doren Stern, 6). It is after seeing Mary and her new family that he is positive he wants his old life back. Therefore, Mary’s kids made him realize that family is worth living for.

Posted by: Cannelle Samson at October 7, 2015 07:55 PM

Lady Hernandez
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA03
8 October 2015

Question: Who is/was Brownie, how did he react to George, and why? Explain.

Answer: Brownie is George’s dog, parent’s dog, reacted like any dog would with strangers. George had been pronounced “dead” and has been missing and never looked back. So much has changed about him that his own parents could not recognize him.

Posted by: lady hernandez at October 8, 2015 07:42 PM

Emma Duncan
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA03
8 October 2015

Question: What “problem” did the stranger on the bridge have that George suddenly “solved” for him? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole?
Answer: The “problem” the stranger had that George “solved” was being able to grant a wish. You know this because the stranger says, “You’ve solved everything. I was afraid you were going to give me some trouble. But now you’ve got the solution yourself. You wish you’d never been born. All right!” (Stern, 2). The significance to the whole story is that the stranger was trying to prove a point to George and wanted him to see what his life would be like if he truly was never born. George was unhappy immediately and made his way back to the stranger and said, “You don’t understand. I’ve got to get back. They need me here” (Stern, 7). The strangers response was, “I understand right enough…I just wanted to make sure you did. You had the greatest gift of all conferred upon you – the gift of life, of being a part of this world and taking a part in it. Yet you denied that gift” (Stern, 7).

Posted by: Emma Duncan at October 8, 2015 08:09 PM

Sabrina McIntyre
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA03
08 October 2015

Question: Why did the stranger insist that George take his satchel? What was in the satchel? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.

Answer: The reason the stranger insisted that George take his satchel is because that was going to be George's last chance to make his life better. Also, in the satchel happened to be a variety of colorful brushes. The significance of the narrative is that don't take your life for granted. Also, I feel like it brings up suicide awareness and what it looks like to hit anomy. In other words, the satchel represents the little bit of hope that George had and brought him back to reality to appreciate life and be more ambition. In the story, Stern states, "You brought it on yourself. However, since it's Christmas Eve —well, anyway, close your eyes and keep listening to the bells" (Stern 7). Lastly, if it weren't for the stranger, George would have committed suicide.

Posted by: Sabrina McIntyre at October 8, 2015 10:38 PM

Lois Martinez
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA03
8 October 2015

Question: Why did George not see that the “little town straggling up the hill was bright and colored with Christmas lights”? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.

Answer: George did not see his cheerful little town's Christmas lights because all his mind allowed him to see was despair. The opening line of the story, "The little town straggling up the hill was bright and colored with Christmas lights. But George could see them," represents, more than the physical action of the character, his loss of interest in living (Stern 1). Also, the quote reflects the character's plight, which enhances the title, context, and moral of the story. The author named the story "The Greatest Gift" because life is one of the greatest gifts that people take for granted sometimes; the character in the story learns this through firsthand experience for he wished he had not been born. It also matches with the context of the tale because it is Christmas time, and people traditionally receive gifts—he was granted with the best of all gifts. Moreover, this tale reminds its readers always to be grateful for what they have and who they have because the best gifts do not always come wrapped in boxes.

Posted by: Lois Martinez at October 8, 2015 10:44 PM

Yaribilisa Colon
Dr. Hobbs
ENG-122
10/9/2015

QUESTION: What did George notice that seemed “wrong” with the bank, when he first reached it? What was supposed to be happening with the bank at this time (and wasn’t), that made George surprised? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.


“When he reached the bank, he saw that something was wrong. The building was dark, and he knew he had turned the vault light on. He noticed, too, that someone had left the window shades up. He ran around to the front. There was a battered old sign fastened on the door. George could just make out the words: FOR RENT OR SALE Apply JAMES SILVA Real Estate Perhaps it was some boys’ trick, he thought wildly. Then he saw a pile of ancient leaves and tattered newspapers in the bank’s ordinarily immaculate doorway. And the windows looked as though they hadn’t been washed in years. A light was still burning across the street in Jim Silva’s office. George dashed over and tore the door open. Jim looked up from his ledger book in surprise”


ANSWER: After leaving the bridge and having that conversation with that guy, George heads back to his town. As he reaches the bank, he notices its dull look. He notices that the windows look as if they hadn’t been washed in years, and that the volt light that he remembered turning on is now off. When walking closer towards the bank, George notices a sign on the front doors of the bank that read “For rent or Sale”. At this time of the day, the bank is supposed to be open, whereas instead it’s been shut down for 10 years. The significance of this to the narrative as a whole is that because of George’s non-existence, the bank is shut down. George’s employment role in that bank really meant something.

Posted by: Yaribilisa Colon at October 9, 2015 02:19 AM

ENG 122 CA03
Stern
“The Greatest Gift”
9th October 2015


Question: 16. What was significant about the son of Mary and Art telling George (in jest), that he was “dead—dead—dead”? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.

Answer: In the story, “The Greatest Gift” by Stern had some significant meanings. “I might just as well be dead. I might better be dead. Sometimes I wish I were. In fact, I wish I’d never been born!”(Stern 4). The significance of telling George that he was “dead-dead-dead” meant that he was not welcomed at that time and place. George was just being taken advantage of and he thought that maybe it had been all a dream. The significance in this story is embracing others and loving each other along with life itself. His wife came toward him, dressed for going to church, and making gestures to silence him. “I’ve just put the children to bed,” she protested. “Now they’ll—” But not another word could she get out of her mouth, for he smothered it with kisses, and then dragged her up to the children’s room, where he violated every tenet of parental behavior by madly embracing his son and his daughter and waking them up thoroughly ( Stern 7).

Posted by: Tannor Berry at October 9, 2015 09:12 AM

Jaclyn Taylor
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing CA03
8 October 2015

Question 9: Who is/was Marty Jenkins and how did George know him? In the part of the story that George speaks with Jim Silva, what has happened to Marty?
Answer: Marty Jenkins had taken fifty thousand dollars from the bank and then skipped town, for that was why everyone has had a rough going since then. As you continue through the story originally George had gotten the job and the money would have never been stolen. But because George was never born there was damage and there was also collateral damage Marty brother Art never got over the shock of his brother leaving so he took up drinking.

Posted by: Jaclyn Taylor at October 9, 2015 01:11 PM

Randawnique Coakley
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA 06
22 January 2016

Question: 13. What ruse did George use to get his parents to speak with him? Did it work? Is there any evidence that they recognized him? What did he learn from them that night? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.

In the, "The Greatest Gift", George witnesses what life would have been if he never existed. Before he goes to his wife, George goes to his parents to retrieve information about their life and get more insight about his wife from his parents. George pretends to be salesman from "World Cleaning Company", giving out free brush samples (4). By presenting an offer that they could not refuse, George got to speak with them. The Van Doren Stern candidly states that George's parents does not recognize him. This is shown when that author writes that George "could see that his father did not know him. (4)," and his mother "obviously did not recognize him (4)." That, night, he learns that his brother, Harry, drowned; this was something George prevented from happening. George also learns that Mary, that she had two children with Art Jenkins (5).

Posted by: Randawnique Coakley at February 23, 2016 02:25 AM

Clark de Bullet
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA06
23 February 2016

Greatest Gift

Question #1: Why did George not see that the “little town straggling up the hill was bright and colored with Christmas lights”? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole?

Answer: George did not see the lights because “he was leaning over the railing of the iron bridge, staring down moodily at the black water” (Van Doren Stern 1). From the combination of the tone and the way he was leaning over the edge toward the water, you could deduce that the mas was contemplating suicide (1). The entire story focuses around him and that decision and the consequences that will happen because of it.

Posted by: Clark de Bullet at February 23, 2016 02:46 AM

Nastassja Sielchan
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA06
23 February 2016

Question: Why did the stranger insist that George take his satchel? What was in the satchel? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.

Answer: The stranger insisted that George takes his satchel, because, according to the stranger, “It’ll open a lot of doors that might otherwise be slammed in your face” (Van Doren Stern 2). George resisted by saying he knew everyone in the town, and it will have no use for him, but he took it none-the-less, and inside there were different typed of brushes. The significance of the satchel to the narrative is, just like the stranger said, to help George “open doors” in the town he knew so well that now does not know him at all.

Posted by: Nastassja Sielchan at February 23, 2016 08:57 AM

Hannah Rowe
Dr. Hobbs
English 122 Academic Writing II CAO6
22 February 2016

“The Greatest Gift”

Q: #2 What did George wonder about the “paralyzing cold” water? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole?

A: Standing alone on a bridge, George peered down at the whirling water below. “The water looked paralyzing cold. George wondered how long a man could stay alive in it,” (Stern 1). George is contemplating suicide and finds the angry, black water and the idea of ending his life almost fascinating. Nevertheless, the “paralyzing cold water” is significant to this passage, more than just being a way to end George’s life. After George’s visit with the older man, George is seemingly paralyzed in the past; he is stuck in a world where he does not exist. He is running from house to house, realizing that his mother and father do not know him, and that his wife is married to another man. His two children do not exist, his brother is dead, and his workplace is up for sale. Frightened and distraught, he runs back to the bridge hoping the old man can help him out of this “paralyzing” and doomed situation.

Posted by: Hannah Rowe at February 23, 2016 07:49 PM

Vincia Mitchell
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing 11 CA06
22 February 2016

Question: Who is/was Mary Thatcher, what happened to her, and why? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.

Answer: In the story, “The Greatest Gift”, Mary Thatcher was George Pratts’s wife until George’s wish (he wished that he wasn’t born) was granted to him by a stranger (Van Doren Stern 1). Mary Thatcher was now Arthur Jenkin’s wife, which was a result of George’s wish. Mary’s life was neither romantic nor was it embraced with laughter and happiness. It appears as if she was not allowed to have any visitors, which was highlighted by Arthurs reaction when he came home and saw George/brush salesman. It was obvious that Arthur was angry, which lead to George’s/brush salesman dismissal from the home (6). Mary was subordinate to Arthur, and she was voiceless. It is safe to say that Mary’s discomfort and unhappiness was a result of George’s wish.

Posted by: Vincia Mitchell at February 23, 2016 10:32 PM

Omar Martinez
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA06
23 February 2016

Question: Who is/was Marty Jenkins and how did George know him? In the part of the story that George speaks with Jim Silva, what has happened to Marty? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.

Answer: Marty Jenkins is Arthur’s brother and the thief who stole the bank. George knew him because they left school together and applied for the job on at the bank. Marty had already stolen the 50,000 from the bank. “Marty Jenkins! Why, he—” George was about to say that Marty had never worked at the bank—couldn’t have, in fact, for when they had both left school they had applied for a job there, and George had gotten it. But now, of course, things were different. He would have to be careful. “No, I didn’t know him,” he said slowly. “Not really, that is. I’d heard of him (Van Doren Stern 3).”

Posted by: Omar Martinez at February 24, 2016 12:17 AM

Jennifer Belcastro
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122-Academic Writing II CA06
24 February 2016

Question: What was the “business” of the man who spoke to George on the bridge? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response.

Answer: The business of the man who spoke to George on the bridge was to change his mind about killing himself. George tells the man “I wish I’d never been born” (Stern 2). The man grants George the request and the town has no clue who he is anymore. With George having no history in the city, allowed him to realize he messed up wishing for that. At the end of the story, George realized he had the best life possible. The man tells him “You had the greatest gift of all conferred upon you—the gift of life, of being a part of this world and taking a part in it. Yet you denied that gift” (Stern 7). He allows George to be a part of the world again and have this to go back upon in the future.

Posted by: Jennifer Belcastro at February 24, 2016 11:02 AM

Chloe Lelliott
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing 2 CA06
24 February 2016

Question 8)What did George notice that seemed "wrong" with the bank when he first reached it? What was supposed to be happening with the bank at this time (and wasn't)that made George surprised? What is the significance of this narrative as a whole?


Answer 8) When George approaches the bank, the text tells us that "the building was dark, and he knew he had turned the vault light on" so immediately he starts to think something was wrong and thinks back to the man at the bridge. As he looks more thoroughly into the situation, it appears that the bank has shut down. The window shades were up, there was a for sale sign and the windows looked like they hadn't been washed for months.

The significance of this narrative, in my opinion was to make you realize the effect the absence of George's life had on his situation, which made George realize his life had meaning. The significance for the reader was to put yourself in George's shoes and imagine if that were you and what effect it would have.

Posted by: Chloe Lelliott at February 24, 2016 01:04 PM

Matt Scharr
Dr. Hobbs
English 122 CA06 Academic Writing II
24 February 2016
Question 10.) Who was Art? What happened to him and Why?
Answer: Art Jenkins was a man who was married to a lady named Mary Thatcher. He was a man who hardly cared about anything and was pretty lazy. He was a depressed man who took to drinking and removed himself from his marriage. He is only brought up in the story through reminiscing and recalling antics he used to do. There are also several parts in the story where someone says they look like Art, or would act the same way as he did. His drinking problem really hurt his brother mentally and is very vocal about it throughout the story.

Posted by: Matt Scharr at February 24, 2016 02:10 PM

Justin Robinson
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II CA06
24 February 2016

Question: 6.) Why did the stranger insist that George take his satchel? What was in the satchel? What is the significance of this to the narrative, as a whole? Fully explain your response. Use quoted passages from the text (with MLA parenthetical citations) to support the part of your answer that appears in your own words.

Answer: 6.) The stranger insisted that George take his satchel because he said “It’ll open a lot of doors that might otherwise be slammed in your face.” The stranger gave this to George hoping it would help him get people to like him. What was in the satchel was a number of brushes, he said that these brushes were useful to an introduction and went on to explain how to use the free brushes as an introduction. The significance of the satchel to the story as a whole is that at the beginning when George first saw the strange man, he was very depressed and no longer wanted to live so he wished he was never born. After the man granted his wish and gave him the satchel George went to visit his family, but in order to do this he had to use the brushes as an introduction, after talking to them and them not recognizing him he realized that he wanted to live and loved his life. Without these brushes George would not have had a way to start a conversation with his family, and would not have been able to realize what a good life he really did have.

Posted by: Justin Robinson at February 24, 2016 02:30 PM

Phillip Moss, Hannah Rowe
Dr. Hobbs
English 122 Academic Writing II CAO6
29 February 2016

Question: What is the Tone and Mood of Van Stern’s “The Greatest Gift


Answer: In his short story “The Greatest Gift” Philip Van Doren Stern creates a changing mood and tone throughout the story. In the beginning, he creates a pessimistic setting “The little town straggling up the hill was bright with colored Christmas lights. But George Pratt did not see them. He was leaning over the railing of the iron bridge, staring down moodily at the black water”(Stern 1). Towards the end of the story, Stern changes the mood altogether as George Pratt finds new meaning in life. “It was not until Mary got him downstairs that he began to be coherent. “I thought I’d lost you. Oh, Mary, I thought I’d lost you!” “What’s the matter, darling?” she asked in bewilderment. He pulled her down on the sofa and kissed her again.” (Stern 8)

Posted by: Phillip Moss at February 29, 2016 02:15 PM

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