Small World Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What personal story does Robin Dempsey tell Persse at the sherry reception?

Dempsey reveals to Persse his personal history with the hosting university and its English Department faculty. After senior lectureship was given to another professor, Dempsey decided to move on, accepting a position at a university in Darlington. His wife, however, was unhappy with the change and, having been unable to sell their house in Rummidge anyway, she and their children remained there and he commuted on weekends. Eventually, he had an affair with a postgraduate student that his wife found out about, and they have since divorced.

2. What is Miss Sybil Maiden's overarching theory about literature?

Miss Maiden believes that, "It all comes down to sex, in the end." She uses as an example the story of the Holy Grail, usually supposed to be an ancient Christian legend; she places the grail, or cup, as a universal symbol of a female womb and the spear as a phallic symbol.

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