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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 355

1. What was the actual life expectancy for people born the year that the character Hagar was born in this novel? What factors influence life expectancy? Based on her longevity, what can you infer about Hagar's lifestyle?

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2. Was it a reasonable fate for the author to have Hagar live with her grown son and his wife after Hagar retired? Were such living arrangements usual or unusual in Canadian and North American families?

3. Colognes and perfumes are used casually today by many women, and some men. In Biblical times, expensive scents were used to anoint the dead. Can you think of any meaning Hagar might find in the gift of lily-of-the-valley perfume from her granddaughter Tina? What about when Sandra (who shares a room with Hagar in the hospital) dabs some of her own perfume on Hagar's wrists?

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4. Did growing up without a mother mean that Hagar had no chance to develop her abilities to nurture and give comfort?

5. Hagar never missed a meal nor wore rags in her life, but there was a human need that was never really filled in her, and which she never learned to satisfy in others. What might have changed in her relationships if she had somehow learned to give comfort?

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Latest answer posted August 25, 2015, 1:30 pm (UTC)

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6. Why did Hagar's father object so bitterly to her marriage, if she was twenty-four and her new husband already owned a house and farm?

7. What are moral obligations? To whom are they owed? Hagar had answers, but were they correct?

8. What did a moral upbringing give Hagar that Bram Shipley or Jules Tonnerre lacked? Was it the moral upbringing that made such a social gulf between the Curries and the Shipleys?

9. Why were the Tonnerres completely off the social scale in Manawaka?

10. Does Hagar share any moral responsibility for the past actions of her employer, Mr. Oatley, who was a profiteering human smuggler?

11. In many scenes we are told the season, the temperature and the weather. Why was Hagar so aware of rain or snow or heat or drought when she lived in Manawaka? Why is the weather still important to her when she is ninety and living in Vancouver?

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