The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Describe Tristram Shandy.

Tristram Shandy is the narrator of the story. The novel chronicles his life, beginning before conception. Although Tristram does not appear himself in the novel until a much later volume, his presence is always felt as he interjects his opinions into the anecdotes he relates about his family.

2. Describe Toby Shandy.

Toby Shandy is Tristram's uncle. His kind and gentle nature seems at odds with his love of war. A former Captain of the British army, Toby suffers a groin injury while fighting the French. His brother, Walter, takes him in and Toby finds purpose in life by mentally fighting the war by recreating battle scenes on the bowling green.

3. To what does Uncle Toby attribute to Tristram's problems before entering the world?

Uncle Toby attributes the beginning of Tristram's problems to his conception. While conceiving her child, Tristram's mother interrupts intercourse with a question about the cuckoo clock. Toby feels that this interruption somehow damaged Tristram from the moment of conception, and that life would only get worse for him from there on.

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