Cloudstreet Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What scene is depicted in the brief section prior to the opening of Chapter I?

A short section prior to Chapter I describes a group of people having a noisy, happy picnic by a river. An unnamed man leaves the group and joyfully runs to the jetty, where he precariously leans over the river, as if he will fall or jump into it.

2. What theme is introduced through the character of Rose Pickles in the beginning of Chapter I?

From the outset of the first chapter, which covers much ground, a powerful theme is established. Rose Pickles senses bad luck coming to her family, which already has lost almost everything in a hardscrabble existence.

3. How is the concept of “luck” perceived by the members of the Pickles family? Where did this perception of luck derive from?

Luck, known by the family as the shifty shadow of God, is like a deity to them, or a form of fate. It is beyond control. Bad or good, it just happens, and must be accepted. This attitude goes back to Sam's father, Merv, whose job was the symbolism-charged divining, or discovery of water with the use of a wire rod.

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