What are some critical thinking questions one can ask about Daphne du Maurier's short story "The Birds"?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In thinking of critical thinking questions to ask about Daphne du Maurier's short story "The Birds," one can consider themes. One theme in the short story concerns peoples' psychological responses to life threatening events.

One thing du Maurier craftily shows through the story is that people will always try to understand a situation rationally. Mankind's rationality is expressed through the thoughts of the protagonist Nat. From the very first moment he is attacked by a bird, he rationalizes to both find ways to explain the situation and to find ways to overcome the situation. For example, when a bird first taps at his window and draws blood pecking at his knuckles, then flies off, he reasons that the surprisingly cold wind that has sprung up frightened the bird and that it was "seeking shelter." As the story progresses, he realizes that the birds only come to shore and attack when the tide of the sea is low. This understanding allows him time to daily build defenses against the birds. Yet, by the end of the story, Nat must face the fact that the situation is ironically beyond rationality.

Throughout the story, author du Maurier also skilfully portrays mankind's will to live. Nat's will to live is portrayed through his determination to keep the birds out of the house by boarding up windows, doors, and chimneys and repeatedly boarding them up each time the birds' attack damages them. He continues to try and protect himself and his children despite seeing how much death and destruction the birds are causing.

Hence, the following is one critical thinking question we can ask about du Maurier's short story:

  • What does du Maurier show about human nature through the story?
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