Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 326
1. The magical green box is an important device. What does it mean to the different people who come into contact with it? What do its characteristics convey about the themes confronted throughout the novel? Be sure to consider the question of power in society and the way it relates to men and women, devoting special attention to comments by Mig's parents and Antony Green (Chapters 9, 14, 15).
2. Describe how time travel is used in the novel, and make a judgment about its effectiveness as a plot device. Is it more or less effective, for example, than such devices as the transformation of people into animals?
3. Near the beginning of the novel Mig describes Aunt Maria's character as "enormous—right up to the ceiling" (Chapter 2). Much later Mig concludes that "the main spell" Aunt Maria casts is "boredom," and the guilt she inflicts is a breakable "plastic bag" (Chapter 14). What do these realizations mean in terms of Mig's response to Aunt Maria's power? If Mig's thinking has changed, what has happened to bring this change about?
4. Diana Wynne Jones has been praised for her use of humor. Is Aunt Maria more a serious novel or a funny one? If humor is present, is it effective? What is its purpose?
5. One way of handling magical occurrences in a novel can be to make a "big deal" of them, and use them primarily to surprise and entertain the reader. Another way can involve presenting them matter-of-factly, with about the same stress as on the realistic happenings. Has Diana Wynne Jones chosen this latter technique? If so, why would she have done so? Is the result a better story? Why?
6. A fantasy novel typically ends with hope for the future rather than with a permanent solution to the problems raised. Is Aunt Maria, with its many fantastic elements (magical spells, resurrection, and time travel), typical or not? If the ending hints that troubles may recur, how bothersome is that to the reader?
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