Katherine Mansfield

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What are some study questions for "How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped"?

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On the surface, Katherine Mansfield's short story "How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped" is about a little girl who is taken from her front yard by two female strangers. As is the case with most short stories, there is deeper meaning hidden beneath the surface. Here are some questions to help guide your study of the story.

1). Mansfield mentions the "House of Boxes" several times in the story. What is the "House of Boxes," and why do you think Pearl refers to it by that title?

2). Compare and contrast European and Maori values using clues from the text.

3). Pearl is not afraid of the two Maori women who walk by her house, and she readily goes with them when they ask her to. Why do you suppose Pearl does not hesitate to follow the strangers?

4). Does Pearl experience culture shock when she visits the Maori settlement? Is there textual evidence to support your claim?

5). At the end of the story, Pearl is frightened by a group of "little blue men." Who are these men? What do they want? Why is Pearl afraid of them?

6). Compare and contrast Pearl's reactions to the two Maori women and the men in blue. Are her reactions ironic? If so, how?

7). Why do you suppose Pearl is fearful after spilling fruit juice on her dress?

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