Introduction: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. The quotation from I Corinthians: 1:11 contains Morrison’s given name. What is it?

2. Why could the sailor not reach the shore near Queen of France?

3. Exactly where was the sailor trying to swim to at first?

4. Where does he swim instead?

5. What does he lose while swimming?

6. What are three odors the sailor notices in this reading?

7. Where does the sailor hide on the boat?

8. What does the sailor find to eat where he hides?

9. After the women leave the boat, where does the sailor go first? Why?

10. What are several sounds heard by the intruder?

1. Morrison’s given name was Chloe. She changed it to Toni when she was in college.

2. The sailor could not swim to Queen of France because the undertow was too strong, sucked him under, and carried him away from the shore.

3. The sailor was trying to reach a deserted pier beyond Queen of France.

4. He swims to a small boat, the Seabird II.

5. The sailor loses his shoes while swimming. They had been tied by shoestrings to his pants.

6. Three odors noticed by the sailor include the ammonia- scented air while he was swimming; the smell of curry, a cooking spice, aboard the Seabird II; and the citrus and oil smell within his hiding place.

7. The sailor hides in a storage closet on the boat.

8. In the closet, he finds a crate of miniature orange trees loaded with fruit.

9. After the women leave the boat, the intruder first goes to the galley because he is so hungry.

10. The sounds the sailor takes note of in this reading are the sounds of music playing, the crash of a bottle, voices of women talking and laughing, cloth rubbing against cloth, footsteps, and the engines of the boat and of the car at the pier.

Chapter 1: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How long had Valerian and Sydney been acquainted? What was their relationship?

2. How long had Valerian been on the Isle des Chevaliers?

3. What caused Valerian to leave the island after he retired there?

4. How had Valerian met his wife, Margaret?

5. How do Margaret and Valerian differ in their expectations for Christmas this year?

6. What is Jade’s relationship to the Childs and to the Streets?

7. What theft has occurred within L’Arbe de la Croix?

8. Why did Valerian and his neighbors import mongooses to the Isle des Chevaliers?

9. What is Jadine’s work and training?

10. What is Yardman supposed to pick up for the Streets?

1. Sydney has been Valerian’s butler and valet for 40 years. They had developed a friendship, sometimes adversarial (as when Valerian’s health was in question).

2. Valerian had bought the island 30 years ago and built his
estate. He brought his wife and son there on holidays. He retired to the island three years ago—in 1976.

3. Valerian left the island once during the last three years
because of a severe toothache. He went to Queen of France to see Dr. Michelin, who became a friend.

4. When Valerian was in Maine on a trip, he attended a parade during the annual Snow Carnival. Margaret was Miss Maine and rode a float with a polar bear. Valerian fell in love with the younger woman.

5. Valerian believed that Christmas should not be celebrated. He preferred goose for the main meal. In contrast, Margaret planned to have several people visit for the holiday—their son Michael; Michael’s friend; and Dr. Robert Michelin, the dentist. She wants to serve turkey, apple pie, and pumpkin pie.

6. Jade is the orphaned niece of Ondine and Sydney. They took her in when her mother died. Margaret has given Jade work while she is on the Isle des Chevaliers.

7. Ondine discovers the theft of items from her kitchen pantry. Bars of bittersweet chocolate and Evian water have disappeared.

8. Valerian and his fellow islanders brought mongooses to the island to kill snakes and rats.

9. Jadine has been successful in Paris and New York as a high-fashion model for the designer Caron.

10. Yardman is supposed to pick up a red trunk that Michael has had since he was a boy. Michael has sent the trunk ahead for his Christmas visit.

Chapter 2: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why had Jadine given a party in Paris two months before?

2. How does the black woman in the yellow dress sever Jadine’s attention?

3. How did Valerian’s island get its name? How do Valerian and Margaret disagree about its name?

4. How did Valerian’s uncles show their love for him?

5. When did Valerian say he would retire? Why did his plans change?

6. Where did Margaret’s red hair, disturbing to her father, come from?

7. Where did Valerian meet Margaret?

8. How did Margaret respond when the wife of one of Valerian’s friends asked her about her “school”?

9. What advice did the wife of one of Valerian’s friends give Margaret early in their marriage?

10. How did the soap opera Search for Tomorrow influence Margaret’s life?

1. Jade gave a party in Paris two months before coming to the island to celebrate her successes. She had just been chosen for the cover of Elle, a fashion magazine, and had passed her oral exams. She also had three impressive suitors.

2. The regal black woman in the yellow dress, showing no respect for Jadine, spits while staring at Jade.

3. The hills in the distance appeared to be alive with 100 French soldiers on horseback. Hence, Valerian said the name was the Isle des Chevaliers. Margaret argued that only one soldier rode a horse in the...

(The entire section is 463 words.)

Chapter 3: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. To what is the fog compared?

2. What is the previously mentioned affliction of Margaret, made more evident in this reading?

3. What pronunciation by Margaret does Valerian correct…or ridicule? What does this word refer to?

4. Who are the guests expected for Christmas at L’Arbe de la Croix?

5. What are Valerian’s and Margaret’s opposing views about the following line of poetry: “And he glittered when he walked”?

6. What causes Margaret to leave the dinner table in the middle of the meal?

7. What behavior of Michael as a child most bothers Valerian now?

8. How did Jadine react when Valerian criticized his wife at the dinner table?

9. What is Valerian’s opinion of Michael, his son?

10. What is Valerian’s reaction to the black intruder found in Margaret’s closet?

1. The fog is compared to the gray, flowing hair of Margaret’s two aunts from Buffalo.

2. Margaret’s increasing forgetfulness and periods of unawareness are made more evident in this chapter.

3. Valerian corrects Margaret’s pronunciation of Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus in Greek mythology. Orpheus pleads for her release from Hades.

4. Although Valerian is doubtful that they will arrive, Margaret expects their son, Michael; his teacher, B. J. Bridges, who will bring a friend; and Dr. Michelin.

5. Margaret credits Michael’s former teacher, B. J. Bridges, with writing this line. Valerian says she is wrong.

6. Valerian’s unrelenting criticism and his calling her a high- school dropout cause Margaret to flee the table.

7. Valerian is most bothered by his memories of Michael, hidden from the world in a bathroom cabinet beneath the sink, singing an unknown song.

8. Jadine tried to be the peacemaker between Valerian and Margaret. She gently supported some of Margaret’s statements and tried to soften Valerian’s harsh criticism.

9. Valerian thinks his son was spoiled, but also often ignored by Margaret during his growing years. His childhood experiences, causing Michael to remain an adolescent in supporting a cause, never allowed him to become a successful businessman like his father.

10. Valerian, to everyone’s amazement, offered the black intruder a drink.

Chapter 4: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Although she wants coffee, why will Margaret not go downstairs?

2. What gift has Jadine received from her potential fiance?

3. What were the Christmas presents bought by Jadine for the Childs and the Streets?

4. How has Yardman been neglectful toward Ondine?

5. What does Ondine mean by these words: “Drop that bone”?

6. Why has Yardman come to Isle des Chevaliers?

7. What words described Margaret’s prejudice toward the intruder?

8. What causes Therese to lose her ability to speak English?

9. What information about herself does Jadine read to the intruder?

10. What is Therese’s favorite food?

1. Margaret would not go downstairs to get the coffee she wants because she thinks Valerian has insulted her through his actions with the black intruder, who is still in the house. She still has fear of the intruder.

2. Ryk has given Jadine a sealskin coat made from 90 baby seal skins.

3. Jadine bought a dozen fine shirts for Sydney, a black chiffon dress with matching zircon-studded shoes for Ondine, a record album for Valerian, and a chain of gold coins for Margaret.

4. Yardman had been neglectful in his behavior by forgetting to pluck the chickens for Ondine.

5. When Ondine tells Sydney, “Drop that bone,” she means for him to stop worrying or complaining about something. In this situation, Sydney is upset about Valerian’s graciousness to the black intruder found in Margaret’s closet.

6. Gideon came to the island because he thought he was going to manage his Aunt Therese’s vast holdings. Actually, she had very little financial backing and wanted his companionship.

7. Margaret shows her prejudice toward the intruder by calling him a “real live dope addict ape.”

8. When Therese becomes excited about the story she has created about the happenings in Valerian’s house, she loses her ability to speak English and reverts to her native French.

9. Jadine reads from the article written about her when the intruder expresses his curiosity. He learns from her words that she is a model who has just received a degree in art history from the Sorbonne and that she creates cloissonne jewelry. Jadine has also acted in a film.

10. Therese’s favorite food is an apple. Yardman has just brought her 12.

Chapter 5: Questions and Answers

1. Jadine is black; yet she calls the intruder a “nigger.” What do you think she means by this epithet?

2. What does Valerian remember about his childhood laundress?

3. Why does Michael search out other cultures, inferior ones according to Valerian, to live with?

4. What talent or knowledge possessed by Son impresses Valerian?

5. What is Therese’s attitude toward Son?

6. How did Son earn his first dime? What did he buy with it?

7. What does Sydney mean when he says, “White folks play with Negroes”?

8. What would Michael think about Son and about Valerian’s treatment of the intruder?

9. What did Alma Estee want Son to send her from America?

10. Why is Ondine not cooking the Christmas dinner?

1. When Jadine thinks of the intruder as a “nigger,” she is expressing the white bigot’s negative attitude about a black. The intruder does not appear educated. He behaves in a common way, insulting her with his crude language, and has animal habits.

2. Valerian recalls his daily conversations with the laundress, who always asked him, “What your daddy doin’ today?” When his father died, the laundress helped Valerian get through his loss by putting him to work scrubbing pillowcases. She was fired for her “therapeutic” treatment.

3. Michael sought other cultures to live with because he seemed...

(The entire section is 452 words.)

Chapter 6: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Valerian want added to the Christmas feast?

2. How does Valerian feel about Son’s presence now?

3. When Valerian counts those who will be at his Christmas table, whom does he leave out?

4. How does Ondine feel about Son now? Why?

5. How does Sydney feel about a relationship between Son and Jadine?

6. What does Ondine refer to when she talks about her “crown”? Why?

7. How is the meal changed once company is not coming?

8. Who is invited to attend the reorganized Christmas feast?

9. What causes the quarrel between Valerian and others at the table?

10. What long-kept secret does...

(The entire section is 358 words.)

Chapter 7: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Son use Jadine’s plane ticket to leave the island three days after Christmas?

2. What does Jade give Son as he prepared to leave?

3. What gift does Therese give Son before he left Queen of France?

4. What does Son call Jadine’s inner voice? Why?

5. Why does Jade describe New York as the power place for black women?

6. What financial success does Jade have in New York?

7. What financial success does Son have in New York?

8. Who is Nommo?

9. What does Son do when Jade hurts her toe?

10. What does Son tell Jadine about his war experiences? What does he omit?


(The entire section is 358 words.)

Chapter 8: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What had Valerian thought caused his wife’s sometimes strange behavior over the years?

2. What word does Margaret use to describe how it felt to torture her child? Why does she rationalize that her actions were acceptable?

3. What is the main focus of Sydney’s thoughts during this time?

4. As Valerian withdraws from life at L’Arbe de la Croix, what does he think of constantly?

5. What does Valerian want to cry? How do you interpret this term?

6. How does Margaret get rid of her guilt the morning after her secret was revealed by Ondine?

7. What explanation does Margaret give for her behavior?

8. What do Margaret...

(The entire section is 486 words.)

Chapter 9: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Jade’s first impression of Eloe?

2. What is the only contact between Son and Old Man for the last eight years?

3. Old Man tells Son that Sally Brown has died. What is her relationship to Son?

4. What does Jade mean when she refers to talking “down home”?

5. Why does Jade think Ernie Paul’s visit in Eloe is a “TKO”?

6. When Soldier asks Jade who is controlling the relationship between her and Son, what is her answer?

7. What is Jadine’s nightmare in Eloe and also in New York when she returns there?

8. How does Son threaten Jadine’s idea of her future with his description of her role in life?...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Chapter 10: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Jadine say she is leaving Son?

2. What changed physical feature of Jadine do Ondine and Margaret notice?

3. Why is Margaret cleaning out Valerian’s clothing?

4. What does Margaret say to Jadine about Valerian’s ability to function by himself?

5. How does Valerian’s talk about returning to Philadelphia affect Sydney?

6. How does Valerian react when Sydney refuses to leave the island and pours a glass of wine for himself?

7. What positive treatment of Valerian does Sydney show?

8. What physical affliction does Valerian have?

9. Why is Alma Estee at the airport?

10. What does Jadine...

(The entire section is 336 words.)

Conclusion: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. For whom is Son looking in Queen of France?

2. Where does Son find the person he is looking for?

3. What had Son often looked at during the last several days?

4. What news does Gideon have for Son?

5. What upsets Son about Alma Estee’s appearance?

6. Why will Gideon not help Son find Jadine?

7. What advice does Therese give Son about Jadine?

8. How does Therese find the island?

9. Where on the island does Therese take Son? Why?

10. What does the term “lickety-split” mean?

1. In his search for Jade, he tries to find Therese and Gideon in Queen of France to...

(The entire section is 316 words.)