Decline and Fall Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is obvious about Paul Pennyfeather and his nature, based on the incident on campus?

He is a passive person who, unwittingly, allows himself to become a victim of the forces around him. He is victimized by the raucous party goers, and later victimized by the college officials, does not seem to be able to stand up for himself. He does not express his anger or resistance, but passively takes what is done to him and quietly goes away. His sentence of moral indecency is ridiculous, however, he does not question it or deny it.

2. What message comes through about British society in the Prelude?

It is clearly divided into classes, with the rich having the upper hand. Paul's innocence is not even examined, since he has no status and, thus, is not of any importance to the school. The rich students, because their parents support the school financially, are allowed to do whatever damage they please, because they are privileged and elite. This structure will appear throughout the story.

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