Chapters 1-4: Questions and Answers
1. What is Marian’s job?
2. Why does she envy Ainsley her job as a tester of defective
3. Where do Marian and Ainsley live?
4. Describe Marian’s relationship to Ainsley.
5. What does Marian look at on her way to work?
6. Why is Marian unhappy with her company’s mandatory pension plan?
7. What is Ainsley’s nickname for Marian’s colleagues, Emmy, Lucy, and Millie?
8. Why is Peter upset about his friend Trigger’s marriage?
9. When Marian visits her friend Clara, what does she think her role will be for the evening?
10. What does Ainsley think of Marian’s relationship to Peter?
1. Marian works for Seymour Surveys, a market research company. She revises questionnaires.
2. She thinks Ainsley is lucky because her job is more temporary and unusual.
3. They live on the top floor of a large house in one of the older and more genteel districts of town.
4. They are roommates but do not have very much in common. They met just before they moved in together. Before that Ainsley was a friend of a friend.
5. She likes to look at the advertisements in the bus on her way to work.
6. Marian feels as though the pension plan binds her to an unavoidable future where a preformed self awaits.
7. Ainsley’s nickname for them is the three “office virgins.”
8. Trigger was the last of Peter’s unmarried friends. When their other friends had gotten married, Peter and Trigger had “clutched each other like drowning men.”
9. She thinks her role will be that of blotter. That is, she will have to absorb some of Clara’s boredom.
10. Ainsley thinks that Marian has been monopolized by Peter.
Chapters 5-8: Questions and Answers
1. Why does Ainsley criticize Clara’s lifestyle?
2. What reason does Ainsley give for wanting to have a baby?
3. What does Marian decide to do about her friend’s sudden decision to have a child?
4. What is Marian’s first impression of Duncan?
5. How did Marian meet Peter?
6. Why does Peter choose the bathtub (according to Marian)?
7. Why does Ainsley show up at the bar dressed to look much younger than she actually is?
8. What does Marian decide to do about Ainsley’s use of
9. How does Marian interpret the look Len gives her in the bar?
10. Why does Marian run away? What (or who) is she running from?
1. Ainsley thinks that Clara allows herself to be treated like a thing. She thinks that she should do something.
2. Ainsley thinks every woman should have a baby because “it fulfils your deepest femininity.”
3. Marian initially tries to think of a way to stop Ainsley but then becomes resigned, thinking that it isn’t any of her business. She decides that she will simply have to “adjust to the situation.”
4. When Marian first sees Duncan she thinks that he is about 15. She is also struck by his thinness (he is described as
“cadaverously thin” and as an “emaciated figure” whose ribs stick out) and melancholy eyes.
5. Marian met Peter at a garden party following her graduation. He was a friend of a friend. They began seeing each other over the summer and he soon became a “pleasant habit.”
6. Marian thinks that the bathtub lovemaking fits into the same pattern that began after two other “unfortunate marriages.” She thinks that Peter is trying to assert his youthfulness and spontaneity by revolting against the stale doom he associates with marriage.
7. Ainsley knows that Len likes his women young and hopes that he will be a suitable candidate for her baby plan.
8. Marian thinks that it is unethical of her to let Len be deceived but wonders what she can do and whether it is any of her business. She is also afraid that Ainsley may somehow retaliate if she ruins her plans.
9. Marian suspects that Len gives her a look because he thinks that she is being purposely self-effacing and that her relationship with Peter is more serious than she had said.
10. There is no simple answer to this question. Marian herself may not know why she begins to run.
Chapters 9-12: Questions and Answers
1. Describe Peter’s, Len’s, and Ainsley’s reactions when Marian begins to run away from them.
2. What does Marian find so attractive about the dusty space beneath Len’s bed?
3. Describe Marian’s thoughts as she lies hidden beneath the bed.
4. Why does Marian run away yet again after Peter gets her up?
5. How does Peter react to the property damage he causes with his car?
6. What is Ainsley’s reaction to Marian’s engagement to Peter?
7. How do Marian and Peter view their engagement to each other?
8. Describe Duncan’s fascination with laundromats. Why does he go there so often?
9. What are Duncan’s thoughts on being a graduate student of English Literature?
10. Summarize Marian’s thoughts in the last chapter of Part One. Is she being honest with herself? Is she trying to justify her actions somehow?
1. At first all three are astonished and do nothing. Peter and Len start after Marian but Peter turns back to get his car. When they finally catch up to her, Peter asks what the hell got into her. Len tells her that he did not think her the
hysterical type. The next morning, Ainsley tells Marian that she behaved like a “real idiot.”
2. She thinks it would be quiet. Once underneath, she feels like she is underground, as though she had dug herself a private burrow away from the others “up there.”
3. She begins to feel...
(The entire section is 638 words.)
Chapters 13-16: Questions and Answers
1. How has Marian’s attitude towards her job changed since her engagement?
2. Why do Marian and her friends from work go to a fancy restaurant for lunch?
3. What are the three office virgins hoping to get from Marian following the announcement of her engagement?
4. What is the link between Peter and the “Underwear Man”?
5. What peculiar sensation overcomes Marian in the movie theatre?
6. Why has Marian been avoiding her friend Clara?
7. What does Marian think she has escaped when she leaves Clara’s hospital room?
8. Explain Duncan’s addiction to ironing.
9. What goes through Marian’s mind as Duncan pulls her down beside him on his bed?
10. What is Duncan’s reaction when he learns that Marian is engaged to be married?
1. Now that she is engaged, Marian knows that her job at Seymour Surveys is temporary. As a result, she views her surroundings with a certain amount of detachment and is unable to feel a sense of participation with the turmoil around her.
2. It is Lucy who suggests the fancier-than-usual restaurant. Lucy has been eating at fancier restaurants because she reasons that these are the places “the right kind of men might be expected to be lurking.”
3. They want to know how Marian caught her man.
4. After hearing about...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Chapters 17-19: Questions and Answers
1. Describe Marian’s feelings towards Peter as they sit together in the restaurant.
2. What triggers Marian’s thought of the diagram of the planned cow?
3. What does Marian make of her inability to eat certain foods?
4. Does Peter have any difficulty finishing his steak? What does he say when he is finished eating?
5. What brand of beer does Marian offer Len? Why did she choose to buy this particular brand?
6. After learning that Ainsley planned to get pregnant, Len makes a comment concerning women and college education. What does he say?
7. At the office Christmas party, Marian sits with Lucy, Millie, and Emmy even though they are now treating her coolly. Why has their behaviour towards Marian changed?
8. What does Marian buy Peter for Christmas?
9. Is there any evidence in the text that Marian is somehow affected by the story about the girl who stopped washing?
10. Walking in the snowy park near the university, Marian decides that she is just about ready to go home and eat half a cow. What stops her?
1. Marian thinks of Peter as “nicely packaged” and, sitting with him here in this public place, feels a sense of “proud
2. Watching Peter cut his meat leads to thoughts about Moose Beer commercials, removed violence, and the cow diagram.
3. Marian is certain that it is not her mind making the decisions to reject certain foods. She is afraid that the refusal will spread and that she might become a vegetarian.
4. As Peter cleans off his plate, he says: “A good meal always makes you feel a little more human.”
5. Marian offers Len Moose Beer. She bought it “out of curiosity” but discovers that it tastes just like any other brand.
6. “That’s what we get then for educating women. They get all kinds of ridiculous ideas.”
7. They know that Marian is on the “fringe of matrimony” and thus no longer genuinely single and no longer able to empathize with their problems.
8. Marian buys Peter a technical book about cameras.
9. Walking home after the party, Marian tells herself that she will have to be careful, “you don’t want to end up not taking baths.”
10. Marian is stopped by the sound of Duncan’s voice.
Chapters 20-22: Questions and Answers
1. Why does Marian resent the music that is filtered through the aisles of the supermarket?
2. How does Marian’s knowledge of marketing strategies help protect her against the various schemes used to increase the desire to buy?
3. Earlier in the novel, Len made a comment about women and education. In Chapter 20, a similar view is expressed. What is it?
4. Marian’s dinner party is not a success. After her guests have left, Peter decides that he and Marian will never be like Clara and Joe. Marian decides that it does not matter if Peter does not get along with them—why?
5. According to Duncan, what do sex and the writing of term papers have...
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Chapters 23-25: Questions and Answers
1. Lying in bed with Peter on the day after Valentine’s Day, Marian worries about her body’s recent rejection of rice pudding. What else is Marian worried about?
2. Explain the jealousy Marian feels towards her friend Clara.
3. What does Marian give Peter for Valentine’s Day? Why? When?
4. Does Peter like the gift? Does Marian?
5. Why does Marian choose to buy a red sequined dress that she does not really like?
6. Marian is not pleased with her new hair style but does not ask the hairdresser to change it. Why not?
7. Why is Marian afraid of losing her engagement ring?
8. What does Marian do when feeling...
(The entire section is 401 words.)
Chapters 26-29: Questions and Answers
1. Describe Marian’s feelings as she contemplates Peter’s wardrobe closet.
2. What is Peter’s response when Marian asks if he loves her?
3. Why is Joe so happy that he and Clara were invited to the party?
4. What is Trevor’s reaction when Marian opens the door?
5. What is Duncan’s reaction?
6. How does Peter react to Len’s “baptism in utero”?
7. When Marian realizes that she is still safe, that Peter has not yet snapped her photo, she decides that she must get out before it’s too late. Too late for what?
8. Where does Marian go when she leaves the party?
9. On the morning after...
(The entire section is 329 words.)
Chapters 30-31: Questions and Answers
1. Why does Marian bake a cake shaped like a woman?
2. What does she hope to accomplish by presenting Peter with a substitute woman?
3. When Marian completes her cake, she feels a certain pity for it. Why?
4. Is there any evidence that Marian is still not completely sure of herself?
5. What does Ainsley think of Marian’s cake-woman?
6. What is to be made of Marian’s statement, “Now that I was thinking of myself in the first person singular again. . .”
7. Does Ainsley find a father image for her baby?
8. What does Duncan think of Marian’s explanations for breaking off her engagement to Peter?...
(The entire section is 291 words.)