1. Where does the novel take place?
2. Why is six-year-old James disappointed?
3. How do Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay differ in their treatment of James?
4. Why do the children mock Charles Tansley?
5. Why does Mrs. Ramsay suggest that Tansley accompany her to town?
6. What explanation does Mrs. Ramsay give for Mr. Carmichael’s lack of success?
7. What makes Mrs. Ramsay so attractive and magnetic to Tansley?
8. What entertainment does Mrs. Ramsay suggest to Mr. Tansley?
9. How does Woolf contrast Mrs. Ramsay’s outlook with that of her husband?
10. How is Woolf’s writing style different from more conventional writers?
1. The novel takes place at a beach house in the Hebrides (off the coast of Scotland).
2. James is disappointed because he wanted to sail to the
Lighthouse the next day, but his father ruins his expectations, saying the weather won’t permit it.
3. Mrs. Ramsay treats James with encouragement, recognizing his sensitivity. Mr. Ramsay ignores James’ feelings, believing that facts are inviolate.
4. The children mock Tansley because he is serious and sarcastic. He can’t play cricket and looks and walks funny.
5. Mrs. Ramsay invites Tansley to accompany her because she is aware of his discomfort and wants to include him.
6. Mrs. Ramsay tells Tansley that Mr. Carmichael is not a success, because he had an “unfortunate marriage.”
7. Mrs. Ramsay is attractive and magnetic to Tansley because he feels flattered by her attention and infers through her conversation that she admires the masculine intellect. He is overcome with her beauty and feels important just walking beside her.
8. The entertainment that Mrs. Ramsay proposes is to go to the circus.
9. Woolf contrasts Mrs Ramsay’s outlook with her husband’s in the sense that she is more aware of people’s feelings, more personally involved in encouraging and assisting others, and more attuned to the landscape. Mr. Ramsay focuses on abstract intellectual questions; he is preoccupied with his ability to contribute to the academic world.
10. Woolf’s writing style is “stream of consciousness,” rather than logically sequential in terms of plot or character development. She reveals her characters through recording the disconnectedness of their thoughts.
1. Why does Mrs. Ramsay feel an “impulse of terror”?
2. Why does Mrs. Ramsay feel Lily will probably never marry?
3. What does Lily think of Mr. Ramsay?
4. Why doesn’t Lily want to paint like the popular Mr. Paunceforte?
5. How do Lily Briscoe and William Bankes relate to one another?
6. Describe the view that Lily and Bankes look upon?
7. What is Mr. Bankes’ relationship with Mr. Ramsay?
8. How does Bankes’ view Mr. Ramsay’s family responsibilities?
9. How does Lily compare Mr. Bankes and Mr. Ramsay?
10. Explain how Lily understands Mr. Ramsay’s work.
1. Mrs. Ramsay suddenly notices the absence of household sounds. The sounds of her husband and Mr. Tansley and the children’s playing have stopped and the sound of the waves startle her. She is reminded of the ephemeral nature of life. The day is slipping by, as is life.
2. Lily’s “little Chinese eyes and her puckered-up face” seemed, at this moment, unattractive. She doesn’t take Lily or her painting very seriously.
3. Lily recognizes that Mr. Ramsay is ridiculous in all his strange posturing and shouting, but she also admires his intellectual honesty.
4. Lily is very aware of the vibrant colors of the world, the purples and greens and whites. She feels that Mr....
(The entire section is 496 words.)
1. Who is Mrs. Ramsay knitting for?
2. How does Mrs. Ramsay feel about the sea-side house?
3. Why does she speak sharply to her son?
4. How does Mr. Bankes feel about Mrs. Ramsay?
5. How does James feel about his parents?
6. Why does Mr. Ramsay say “Damn you” to Mrs. Ramsay?
7. What are Mr. Ramsay’s thoughts as he paces through the garden?
8. How does Mr. Carmichael feel about Mrs. Ramsay?
9. Why is Mrs. Ramsay hurt by Mr. Carmichael’s reaction to her?
10. What are Mr. Ramsay’s thoughts at the end of this section?
1. Mrs. Ramsay is knitting a stocking for the Lighthouse keeper’s son who has a tuberculous hip.
2. Mrs. Ramsay feels the house is shabby. She is frustrated by trying to keep the sea-dampness out of the house, by trying to get the family to cooperate to maintain the house.
3. She speaks sharply to James because she has been thinking about the death of Marie’s father. She feels hopeless in the face of death.
4. Mr. Bankes is awed by Mrs. Ramsay’s beauty. He compares her to a Greek goddess.
5. James feels rage towards his father and adoration of his mother.
6. Mr. Ramsay is frustrated by Mrs. Ramsay’s unwillingness to accept the fact the weather will not permit a trip to the Lighthouse. He feels that she, and all women, tell lies.
7. Mr. Ramsay thinks about his intellectual ability and dramatizes passages from poetry.
8. Mr. Carmichael is indifferent to Mrs. Ramsay’s ministrations. He is uncomfortable with her.
9. Mrs. Ramsay feels that people are attracted to her and she can’t understand why Mr. Carmichael seems to reject her. It makes her wonder if he sees something that others overlook.
10. Mr. Ramsay looks at the sea and recognizes that, after all, human knowledge is very limited. It is his special gift to be able to see this so clearly.
1. What is Lily Briscoe’s criticism of Mrs. Ramsay?
2. What is William Bankes’ criticism of Mr. Ramsay?
3. How does Mr. Bankes view Lily’s work?
4. Why does Mrs. Ramsay feel misunderstood?
5. How does Mrs. Ramsay view life?
6. What does Mrs. Ramsay believe about James’ disappointment with the postponed trip?
7. Why does Mrs. Ramsay like to be alone?
8. What does the Lighthouse represent to Mrs. Ramsay?
9. How does Mr. Ramsay feel about his wife’s preoccupations?
10. Why does Mrs. Ramsay join her husband for a walk?
1. Lily feels Mrs. Ramsay is willful, capable of ridicule, and too preoccupied with arranging other people’s lives (i.e., marrying them off).
2. William Bankes feels Mr. Ramsay is a hypocrite.
3. Bankes is interested in learning about Lily’s painting. He listens to her ideas thoughtfully.
4. Mrs. Ramsay feels misunderstood by those people who accuse her of being domineering. She feels that she’s only tyrannical about her social causes, for example, her hospital work.
5. Mrs. Ramsay feels life is terrible and hostile. She feels that there is no reason, or order, or justice—only suffering, death, and poverty.
6. Mrs. Ramsay believes that James will remember this day for the rest of his life.
7. Mrs. Ramsay likes to be alone because she feels released from the strain of being and doing. She experiences a sense of infinite possibilities.
8. Mrs. Ramsay endows the Lighthouse with a variety of symbolic attributes. The third stroke of the Lighthouse is “her stroke.” In one instance it focuses her random thoughts into a phrase, “Children don’t forget, children don’t forget.” At another moment, the light reminds her of the happiness she has known.
9. Mr. Ramsay notices his wife’s preoccupations and is disturbed by her sadness.
10. Mrs. Ramsay senses her husband’s protectiveness as he has glanced at her, marveling at her beauty. She takes her shawl and joins him.
1. What do Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay talk about during their evening stroll?
2. What worry preoccupies Mrs. Ramsay?
3. How do Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay feel about Prue? about Andrew? about Jasper?
4. What does Mr. Ramsay regret?
5. How does Mr. Ramsay feel about his family?
6. What are Mrs. Ramsay’s feelings about her husband at this point?
7. What does Mrs. Ramsay hope about Lily and Bankes?
8. What scene captures Lily’s attention?
9. What is this scene symbolical of for her?
10. What does Lily realize about Mrs. Ramsay’s thoughts about her and William Bankes?
1. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay talk about the garden, the children, and their houseguests.
2. Mrs. Ramsay is preoccupied with the 50 pound bill for the greenhouse. She is also concerned about all aspects of the upkeep of the garden.
3. Mrs. Ramsay worries about Jasper shooting birds. Mr. Ramsay believes it is just a stage. Mrs. Ramsay believes Prue is a great beauty; Mr. Ramsay hasn’t noticed it. Mr. Ramsay worries about Andrew’s efforts to obtain a scholarship; Mrs. Ramsay doesn’t value this one way or the other.
4. Mr. Ramsay laments the loss of his solitude, his ability to think his own thoughts without interruption.
5. Mr. Ramsay feels a deep devotion to his family and chastises himself for sometimes wishing they weren’t there (so he could work, uninterrupted).
6. She admires his youthfulness. She marvels at his unusual mind, yet knows that he’s totally unaware of the world around him. She’s concerned about his talking to himself.
7. Mrs. Ramsay has a sudden insight that Lily and Bankes will marry.
8. Lily is struck by the scene of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay watching their children playing catch.
9. Lily sees this scene as somehow representing what marriage is about: a man and a woman watching their children.
10. Lily suddenly realizes that Mrs. Ramsay will be thinking that she and Bankes should marry.
1. Why didn’t Nancy want to go on the walk?
2. What is Andrew interested in on the walk?
3. What is Paul’s purpose in this excursion?
4. What personality characteristics does Minta exhibit?
5. What does Minta lose on the beach?
6. What does Paul promise to do?
7. Rose and Jasper help Mrs. Ramsay to choose what?
8. Why does Mrs. Ramsay allow Rose to select her jewels?
9. What creatures does Mrs. Ramsay talk to?
10. In what way does Mrs. Ramsay walk down the stairs?
1. Nancy finds Minta too demanding. Nancy prefers to be alone.
2. He is interested in collecting marine specimens.
3. Paul wants to ask Minta to marry him.
4. Minta is emotional, somewhat rash, and a bit pushy.
5. Minta loses her grandmother’s brooch.
6. Paul promises to return at daybreak to find the brooch.
7. They help her choose a necklace.
8. Mrs. Ramsay knows this ritual is important to her. She is in a stage of “mother worship.”
9. Mrs. Ramsay talks to the rooks who settle on the trees outside the window.
10. Mrs. Ramsay walks down the stairs like a queen who silently accepts her subjects’ adoration.
1. What does Mrs. Ramsay feel at the beginning of the dinner?
2. What does Lily observe about Mrs. Ramsay?
3. What are the thoughts of Tansley? of Bankes?
4. What are Lily’s thoughts about the relationships of men and women?
5. What is discussed at dinner?
6. What are Mrs. Ramsay’s thoughts about her husband’s silence?
7. What happens when the candles are lit?
8. What has happened to Paul and Minta during the afternoon?
9. What are Lily’s thoughts?
10. What is Mrs. Ramsay’s feeling about the evening?
1. Mrs. Ramsay feels exhausted and...
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1. What is on Mrs. Ramsay’s mind as she ascends the stairs?
2. Why are the children still awake at 11 p.m.?
3. How does Mrs. Ramsay comfort Cam? James?
4. How does Mrs. Ramsay feel about her guests going to the beach at night?
5. What is Mr. Ramsay doing in the drawing room?
6. What occupies Mrs. Ramsay’s mind, as she sits near her husband?
7. What is Mr. Ramsay’s conclusion about Sir Walter Scott’s novel?
8. What does Mrs. Ramsay read?
9. What impact does Mrs. Ramsay’s reading have on her?
10. What enables Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay to feel re-united at the end of this section?...
(The entire section is 332 words.)
1. What two aspects of Nature invade the house in Chapter II of Time Passes?
2. How are these aspects of Nature personified? What do they do?
3. In Chapter III, “divine goodness” is personified. What does it do?
4. What do the “stray airs” in Chapter IV find in the house?
5. Describe Mrs. McNab, the care-taker.
6. What do we learn about Prue Ramsay in Chapter VI? about Andrew Ramsay?
7. What change does summer bring in Chapter VI?
8. In a passage near the end of Chapter VI, we are told “the mirror has broken.” What is the mirror? Why has it broken?
9. What explanation is given...
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1. What are Mrs. McNab’s thoughts on returning to the house?
2. What are Mrs. McNab’s memories of Mrs. Ramsay?
3. Explain the metaphor of the the feather. What does it signify?
4. Why do Mrs. McNab and Mrs. Bast and her son come to clean the house?
5. How does Mrs. McNab remember Mr. Ramsay?
6. How does Mrs. McNab remember the house when the Ramsays were there?
7. What personal handicaps do the two women have in their housecleaning efforts?
8. What is suggested by the words, “messages of peace breathe from the sea to the shore”?
9. How does nature change as a result of these messages?...
(The entire section is 345 words.)
1. Why does Lily feel “blank” on the morning after she returns to the Ramsay house?
2. What is the mood in the household?
3. Why does Lily pretend to drink out of an empty coffee cup?
4. What words does Mr. Ramsay mutter to himself?
5. What does Lily remember about her unfinished painting?
6. What had Mr. Ramsay said to embarrass Lily and the other guests the evening before?
7. What are the children’s feelings about going to the Lighthouse?
8. How does Lily feel about her behavior toward Mr. Ramsay?
9. How does Mr. Ramsay react to Lily’s comment about his boots?
10. How do...
(The entire section is 330 words.)
1. How does Lily feel as she returns to her painting?
2. As she paints, how do Lily’s feelings change?
3. What is the image Lily has about painting?
4. What phrase recurs in Lily’s mind?
5. What scene does Lily recall?
6. What was Mrs. Ramsay’s part in that scene?
7. What revelation does Lily have about the meaning of life?
8. Why does Lily say she owes it all to Mrs. Ramsay?
9. What does Lily cry out?
10. What does Lily see when she looks out in the distance?
1. Lily feels rebuked by the canvas. She feels that her thoughts and feelings...
(The entire section is 276 words.)
1. What makes James and Cam nervous as they sit in the boat?
2. Why are James and Cam angry?
3. What is the topic of conversation between Mr. Ramsay and Macalister?
4. Why don’t James and Cam take part in the conversation?
5. What is the pact that James and Cam share?
6. Why does James think Cam will “surrender”?
7. What does Mr. Ramsay think about as he looks back at the shore and their house?
8. What does Mr. Ramsay ask Cam about? What is his reaction to her confusion?
9. What are Cam’s feelings toward her father?
10. What does Cam think about as she looks out to sea?...
(The entire section is 310 words.)
1. Why does Lily feel depressed watching the Ramsay’s boat sail off?
2. What does Lily feel like asking Mr. Carmichael?
3. What memory is etched in Lily’s mind?
4. What is Lily’s goal for her painting?
5. How has the Rayley marriage turned out?
6. Describe Lily’s relationship with William Bankes.
7. Why does Lily call out to Mrs. Ramsay?
8. Why does Lily cry?
9. How does Lily envision Mrs. Ramsay as she paints?
10. What does Lily ask as she looks out to sea?
1. Lily feels depressed that she hasn’t given Mr. Ramsay the sympathy that he...
(The entire section is 366 words.)
1. What happens to the boat out at sea?
2. What are Cam’s thoughts about the distant island?
3. What are James’ thoughts and feelings about his father?
4. What memories come to James’ mind?
5. What does James want to do to his father?
6. What are Cam’s thoughts about her father and brother?
7. How does the sudden progress of the boat affect James, Cam, and Mr. Ramsay?
8. How did Cam feel as a child when she had sat with her father and Carmichael and Bankes in the study?
9. What is Cam’s image of her father reading?
10. What does Cam murmer dreamily to herself as she looks at...
(The entire section is 347 words.)
1. What is Lily’s thought as the boat recedes in the distance?
2. How does Lily feel about routine? Social convention?
3. What does Lily want to capture in her painting?
4. What is Lily’s intuition about Mr. Carmichael’s poetry?
5. Why might people have disliked Mrs. Ramsay?
6. What positive memory does Lily have of Charles Tansley?
7. Was the Ramsay marriage blissful, according to Lily?
8. What is the conversation between Macalister and Mr. Ramsay?
9. What does Cam mean when she thinks, “There! You’ve got it at last?”
10. Why is Lily exhausted?
(The entire section is 267 words.)