The Pillow Book of Sei Sh¯onagon, Translated [from the Japanese] and Edited by Ivan Morris Short Essay - Answer Key

Sei Shōnagon
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1. Why did Shonagon say that young herbs peeking through the snow were unexpected near the Palace?

Shonagon said that young herbs near the Palace were unexpected because the grounds were normally kept clear of all plants and weeds. However, they could be found on the seventh day because they were hidden by the snow.

2. Why did the women hit one another with gruel sticks?

Women hit one another with gruel sticks because it was believed that if a woman was struck on the loins with a gruel stick, she would soon give birth to a male child. The women Shonagon describes also seemed to do this purely out of a sense of fun and teasing one another.

3. How did Shonagon describe the life of a priest?

Shonagon described the life of a priest as one of hardship. She explained that they eat meager food, and are constantly the subject of criticism. In addition, she said that people generally find them to be unimportant and treat them as such.

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