The Vertical Ladder Questions and Answers
by William Sansom

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What are the three impressions of Flegg in "The Vertical Ladder"?

One impression of Flegg in "The Vertical Ladder" is that he likes to show off. He's climbing the ladder to impress his friends and the dark-haired girl. A second impression of Flegg is that he's sensitive and vulnerable. On the ladder, Flegg cries and recalls a poignant dream. A third impression of Flegg is that he’s averse to confrontation. Flegg doesn’t confront the taunting boys or whoever took away the ladder.

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The following are three impressions of Flegg in "The Vertical Ladder":

  • He’s a showoff

When I think about Flegg, I think about how he got himself into this predicament. Flegg didn’t have to climb the ladder. He could have resisted his friend’s taunts and listened to the dark-haired girl. Yet Flegg’s drive to be a hero and feel the “exciting glow of glory” pushes him to climb the ladder. All of that leaves me with the impression that Flegg is a showoff. He’s acting rather carelessly to try to impress his friends and the girl he likes.

  • He’s sensitive

Being a showoff doesn’t preclude being sensitive. Throughout the story, I got the impression that Flegg was quite mindful and introspective. To talk about Flegg’s more vulnerable nature, you could discuss how scared he is as he climbs the ladder. You might note his tears. You could also bring up the dream he recalls. If Flegg was a total mindless showoff, he probably wouldn’t be ruminating on a past dream.

  • He’s not very confrontational

A third impression you could talk about is Flegg’s apparent inability to confront people. Instead of confronting the boys and countering their taunts, Flegg yields to their pressure and climbs the ladder. More so, when the ladder is taken away, Flegg doesn’t climb down to confront whoever took it away, he keeps climbing. Perhaps if Flegg wasn’t so adverse to confrontation, he wouldn’t be stuck on the ladder.

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