The Masterpiece Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Describe the mood at the beginning of the novel.

Claude is walking home late at night in a heavy rain. He appears to be a troubled man and the weather is not making him feel any better. After crossing a bridge near his studio flat, he sees the figure of a woman standing on his doorstep. In his dark mood, he immediately thinks the worst about the woman.

2. How does Zola show that the young woman is a proper young lady and not a trollop as Claude suspects?

First she is reluctant to go up to the room of a perfect stranger. Second, once in his studio, she wants to sleep in her wet clothes, sitting up in a chair. She only agrees to take his bed after he covers that area with a screen.

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