A Personal Matter Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is Bird doing at the beginning of A PERSONAL MATTER? What is going on with Bird's wife and how does Bird think his life will soon change?

In the cooling air of a once hot summer day, Bird lingers in a store over an open atlas; it is open to a map of Africa During these contemplations, narration also includes a brief reference to Bird's wife, naked, moaning and sweating as she gives birth to Bird's child. Eventually, Bird asks a salesclerk to bring Bird him some road maps of Africa, a place Bird has always wanted to visit, but with the birth of his child may no longer be able to see.

2. Describe the nature of Bird's brief encounter with the transvestite on the street.

After paying for the maps and leaving the shop, Bird encounters a transvestite who at first thinks that Bird might be interested in an encounter, but soon realizes s/he has made a mistake and hurries off. Bird fantasizes briefly about how comfortably intimate an evening with the transvestite might be, but then lets the fantasy go.

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