To the Lighthouse Questions and Answers
by Virginia Woolf

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Can you please analyze the opening lines of To the Lighthouse from "to her son these words . . ." to ". . . him guide his scissors neatly round the refrigerator."

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It is interesting that this novel's very first line is actually a piece of dialogue from Mrs. Ramsay, the book's first named character:

"Yes, of course, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs Ramsay. "But you'll have to be up with the lark, she added."

The passage you have identified for analysis, then, begins with the phrase, "To her son . . ." At this juncture, we see a reversal of the trend commonly observed in English literature, where a woman is defined by her relationship to a man: James Ramsay, named later in this passage, is referred to only as "he" several times, while defined only by his relationship to Mrs. Ramsay, his mother. The positioning here leads the reader to question, from the beginning of the novel, what kind of dynamic exists between mother and son and if there is a reason the writer chooses to define James Ramsay in this fashion.

Indeed, the attributes described in the passage that follows seem to suggest that James Ramsay has an internal life that is opposed to the...

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