A Treasury of Literary Classics -
Short Story Series


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  3. Read the short story and answer the following questions.

About Barbers

Mark Twain

Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (30 November 1835 - 21 April 1910), who was an American writer with a grest sense of humour. William Faulkner, another well-known American author regarded Mark Twain as "the father of American literature". Mark Twain is known for his satirical and humorist writing style. His most notable work are the two novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as a number of short stories such as "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country", "The Dog's Tale" and "The Five Boons of Life".

1. Where is the short story set?

A. a barber's shop
B. Jones Street
C. Smith's Hair Glorifier
D. a funeral

Your answer:

The setting of a story is the place where the story takes place. The story describes the narrator's experience in a barber's shop.

2. From which point of view is the story told?

A. first person
B. second person
C. third person
D. none of the above

Your answer:

First person pronouns are used throughout the story. For example:

- "I got shaved this morning as usual."
- " I hurried up ..."
- "I sat down ..."

3. "When I saw that No. 2 was gaining on No. 1 my interest grew to solicitude. When No. 1 stopped a moment to make change on a bath ticket for a new-corner, and lost ground in the race, my solicitude rose to anxiety."

Which of the following best describes the modd change of the speaker in the extract above?

A. The speaker was feeling increasingly lonely.
B. The speaker was losing his temper an patience.
C. The speaker was getting uneasy and desperate.
D. The speaker was becoming calmer and more patient.

Your answer:

"Solicitude" means worry or concern.
"...my interest grew to solicitude" --> "...my solicitude rose to anxiety."

4. "I stayed out fifteen minutes" - why did "I" leave the shop for fifteen minutes?

A. He wanted to buy a snack.
B. He was bored waiting for his turn.
C. He wanted to join a lucky draw.
D. He wanted to avoid being served by the "worst" barber.

Your answer:

" ... and I rose indignant and quitted the shop, to keep from falling into the hands of No. 2 ..."

5. Which of the following feelings did the narrator have towards Barber No. 2 in course of the story?

  1. impatience
  2. respect
  3. anger
  4. sympathy

A. (i) and (iii)
B. (ii) and (iv)
C. (i), (iii) and (iv)
D. (ii), (iii) & (iv)

Your answer:

i: "I said meekly that I was in a hurry ..."
iii: "I said I didn't not want it trimmed."
iv: The fact that "I" decided to go to his funeral shows a tinge of sympathy.

6. Which is the most sutitable theme of the story?

A. friendship
B. prejudice
C. survival
D. aging

Your answer:

7. Match the following stages of plot development with the relevant events from the story:

A. exposition B. rising action C. climax D. resolution
Event from the story Stage of plot development
7a. "I" unwillingly had his hair and beard trimmed by the barber he least preferred.
7b. "I" decided to put away hatred and attend the barber's funeral.
7c. "I" entered the barber's shop to find the barber he preferred taken by another customer.
7d. "I" heard that the barber he disliked died of apoplexy.

A. Exposition is the first part of the plot sequence in a story. It provides the background information of the story, e.g. the characters and setting.

B. Rising action is the event leading up to the climax, in which the conflict builds up.

C. Climax is the major turning point of the story where the tension or action reaches its highest.

D. Resolution is the part of the story where the main conflict is resolved or worked out.

8. Many people think this story ends with a plot twist. What is the best explanation of the term based on this story?

A. a surprising ending that changes the readers' perception of the preceding events.
B. a foreshadowed resolution that the readers are expecting.
C. a piece of false or withheld information that misleads the readers.
D. a new conflict that appears towards the end of the story.

Your answer:

A plot twist is a literary technique that introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the plot.

9. Which of the following adjectives best describes the character of the speaker?

A. caring
B. self-centred
C. sensible
D. cunning

Your answer:

About Barbers

Score Sheet

Questions Results
Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4
Question 5
Question 6
Question 7a
Question 7b
Question 7c
Question 7d
Question 8
Question 9

Extension: Think and Share

10. How would you describe the narrator (i.e. "I") in the story? Would you like to make friends with him? Why or why not?

11. How do you deal with people who you can't stand? Share your tips and advice with your peers.