Red Lily Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Explain the opening scene of the prologue. Who is the woman and what is her situation?

The story begins in January of 1893 in Memphis. Amelia is a woman who was once beautiful and clever but is now destitute, desperate and demented. She was the mistress of a powerful man, and her life was filled with riches, servants and fabulous friends. People once envied her -- a thrilling feeling for the daughter of a housemaid. Things changed. Now the woman is penniless and has been driven to the brink of madness.

2. What traumatic event has happened to the woman?

The woman became pregnant by her lover. At first, Amelia does not want a child but, eventually, her feelings change. He becomes the only thing she loves more than she loves herself. She looks forward to his birth, and she doesn't mind the pain of delivery since she knows it is followed by joy. The woman is told that she delivered a girl, and the girl is stillborn.

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