A Certain Slant of Light
In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen—terrified, but intrigued—is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.
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What does it mean to be Light? What does it mean to be Quick?
Click the link to read "Ode to a Nightingale" (This annotation contains a link)
The speaker reveals that she is female by stating her wish to be sisters with the Saint.
What happens when the speaker loses contact with the Saint? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge's quote: "If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awoke - Aye! and what then?"
What did the speaker notice about Mr. Brown that motivated her to attach to him?
This statement is an example of a metaphor. The speaker is comparing her longing to look at the boy to a vine reaching for the sun. Watch the clip below to learn more about metaphors and similes. (This annotation contains a video)
Compare the boy's appearance before and after he smiles at the speaker. Use evidence from the text to support your response.
From the previous video you know that making a comparison while the words "like" or "as" is called a simile. The speaker uses a simile to explain her fear of the boy.
Explain how the narrator is affected when she realizes that she can be seen by the boy. Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
This is the type of phone booth that is being described. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the speaker conflicted about her interactions with James? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
A fortnight is 14 days
Why does Helen feel sympathetic towards James when he explains his experience as a Light?
The Lady of the Lake is from the legend of King Arthur. She lived under the surface of the lake and gave King Arthur his sword, Excalibur.
What type of figurative language is included in this statement?
How has meeting James affected Helen's perspective? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
This statement is an example of imagery. Imagery is the use of figurative language to create a visual for the reader.
Notice the flashbacks Helen experiences throughout the book. Her own memories emerge through her interactions as a Light.
What do Helen and James realize after reading Billy's graded assignment?
What emotions are represented by this simile?
"Schizo" is short for schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that can cause hallucinations such as hearing voices.
Notice how word choice is able to convey a change in tone.
Explain how Mr. Brown's plan to have a baby affected Helen. Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
An "incantation" is like a magic spell.
What can you infer about how Mr. Brown is affected by Helen being trapped on the porch?
Why is Mrs. Brown upset?
Personification is when an idea or thing is described using human characteristics.
This description shows the reader how James feels about his surroundings.
What makes it hard for James to live in Billy's body?
These lines are from the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. Click the link to read the full poem. (This annotation contains a link)
Summarize how James explains why Helen was able to sleep. Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
James is implying that Helen smelled like jasmine when she was alive.
Why is Mitch so angry with James?
What is Mitch doing in James's bedroom? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
The word, "narc" is short for narcotics officer. Mitch's friend is implying that Mitch is turning into a "narc" because he is searching the room for drugs.
What does James want Helen to do?
Helen is changing and adapting as a result of meeting James. Notice how her character is transforming.
Notice that James never has a comment or response for Helen when she mentions evil forces.
Based on what you have read, what are some reasons why James may have changed his mind about living in Billy's body? Why do you think he wanted to leave? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Chapter 1-5 Quiz
Why does Helen dread thinking about memories from her past? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
James is calling Helen brave for sticking with Mr. Brown during his boardinghouse days.
Notice how effective the use of simile is in these sentences. The author brings the story to life with each description.
Why does James react so severely to the tiny envelope? What does it reveal to the reader?
Watch a clip of a silent movie below. (This annotation contains a video)
What changes are happening between the brothers now that James is in Billy's body?
Helen's response reveals that she did not marry her True Love, and that she was married to a man she did not love.
How has Helen's point of view been impacted by meeting James? Do you think this is a positive or negative change? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
What does Mitch's physical reaction to Third Sunday say about the experience?
Helen is experiencing more flashbacks since meeting James.
Keep track of Mitch's anger and look for the reason for it in the coming chapters.
What does it mean that Sarah "wasn't ringing"?`
"Cavernous clatter" is an example of alliteration, which is the repetition of consonant sounds.
What are James and Helen shopping for?
Corsets were probably worn by most women when Helen was alive. Corsets are worn to create a smaller waistline. Below is a picture of a corset. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Jenny's mom not notice about Jenny?
How are James's and Jenny's houses different? Which household seems better to live in based on how James and Jenny act?
For a teenage girl, Jenny is not surrounding herself with anything that would make her happy. Her room is a reflection of her mother's expectations, not of her own needs.
Explain how moving into Jenny's body affected Helen. What happens when she makes the full transformation?
Helen did not live during a time when plastic cups and plates existed.
Helen is referring to the quality of writing that she is reading. Compared to her past experiences, the articles in the magazine are not as sophisticated.
Compare Helen's journey to the poem. How do the two relate? Cite evidence from the plot and the poem to support your response.
How is Helen's inexperience with modern living making her transition difficult? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
The medication that Jenny was taking before Helen took her body may account for why Jenny acted so flat and uninterested.
Explain how the Scripture passages that Jenny wrote down connect to her own feelings and situation at home. Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Pay attention to the role Dan plays in how the family is controlled.
What can you infer about why Mr. Brown isn't carrying his novel? Why is Helen sorry?
Helen reveals aspects of her own history through her immediate reactions and actions. Students would not curtsy when coming in late anymore.
Helen's memory of her previous life is seeping into her existence as Jenny. Keep track of these waves of memory. (This annotation contains a video)
Why doesn't Helen like the feelings associated with her memories?
Pay attention to how this feeling resolves itself.
How has the school evolved as a setting in the novel for Helen? How do her past experiences influence her transition in becoming Jenny?
Helen is able to see ghosts now.
How are James and Helen's new guardians (Mitch and Cathy) similar and different? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Helen is comparing herself to the story of Alice in Wonderland.
How is the control Jenny's parents enforce becoming an antagonistic force for Helen? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
In what ways is the Thompson house creating conflict for Helen?
Notice how Dan uses anger and control to manipulate his family.
Explain how Mr. Brown still has an effect on Helen. Why do you think she reacts this way?
Chapters 6-10 Quiz
Helen is experiencing normal teenage emotions and frustrations now that she is in Jenny's body. She went from not caring about time to counting down the seconds left in class.
What is the purpose of Helen reading her writing to Mr. Brown?
Helen is able to move on because she no longer feels obliged to take care of Mr. Brown. She has released herself from him through her letter.
Do you think this warning is rooted in Helen's present as Jenny, or is it from her past experiences? Explain your response.
Smike is a character in "Nicholas Nickleby" by Charles Dickens. (This annotation contains an image)
The car was invented and sold in 1886.
Based on what you know about his character, why is being called "father" appealing to Dan? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Polaroid cameras develop film instantly. (This annotation contains an image)
What do the photos reveal about Jenny? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Jenny's parents put a lot of time into looking and acting like a perfect family. Through Helen's point of view readers are able to see the truth behind their actions.
How do the interaction between Cathy and Dan represent the conflict in the Thompson household?
Dialing *69 allows callers to reach the previous caller without needing to know who called.
What does Helen notice about Cathy that motivates Helen to create this plan?
What can you infer about why Cathy is smelling the shirt?
Washboards were used to wash clothes. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Helen realizing as she flips through Jenny's transcriptions? What does this reveal about Jenny?
Dan is blaming Helen's actions and new thinking on her inability to abide by the Bible.
Dan is packing his things and leaving his family.
What does Helen notice about Mr. Brown's physical appearance?
Helen keeps experiencing wisps of her past life. The author includes these details to foreshadow what Helen will eventually remember about herself. Watch the clip below to learn more about foreshadowing. (This annotation contains a video)
Predict why James is hesitant to rush and get a fake license in order to marry Helen.
Keep track of when Helen decides to reveal the truth of her memories.
What is Helen seeing?
What does James want Helen to do?
Explain why James believes that he and Helen must return the bodies. What impact do the pair have on the lives of Billy and Jenny?
Do you think the cops are here for James because of Mitch or for another reason?
Pantyhose are sheer tights.
Explain how this information accounts for how Jenny was acting when Helen and James first found her.
Explain how the use of the word "private" means more to Cathy than Helen realizes. Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Helen isn't being careful with her things. She doesn't have enough experience in being Jenny to know why she needs to sneak the camera and books.
Mr. Flint has the copy of the poem that Helen wrote for Mr. Brown.
What can you infer about who they think Helen is in love with?
Notice how the interactions between each character creates tension for the reader. Mr. Brown assumes Jenny is the root of the problem and she in return pleads for him to notice the panic in her eyes.
How has Helen's need for closure with Mr. Brown impacted her life as Jenny?
How does Helen's loyalty to her hosts affect how she functions in Jenny's body?
Notice how Dan's reaction to Jenny is not that of a typical father. He lacks sorrow and empathy which leads the reader to learn more about his true nature.
Remember the cheerleader who turned pale when she saw James?
What sparks James's need to return Billy's body?
What does this statement reveal about Mitch's character? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Helen may be impacted by the crying for reasons she does not realize yet.
Mitch's urge to protect his brother comes off as anger instead. This sentence lets readers know that Mitch means well but cannot express himself appropriately.
Why do you think Officer Redman is laughing?
Why does Helen notice the flowers?
Why does this news excite Helen? How will this information impact her life as a Light?
Helen's past is creeping into her future. In this scene she cannot differentiate between reality and her past.
Explain how Helen's character has evolved through her experience as Jenny. How is she now able to stand up to Cathy?
Helen cannot hide from her past anymore.
What does Helen realize in this statement?
How is Helen protecting Jenny by telling Dan to never touch her again?
Notice how Helen is using her situation to reveal the truth about the ballerina and Dan.
Based on this statement, why do you think this isn't what Jenny needs in order to want to come back? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Even though she is upset, Cathy maintains a sense of togetherness and order through her appearance and demeanor.
Explain the importance of this moment for Cathy and Jenny. How is Cathy able to see that she was too rigid?
Explain the impact that Jenny's pictures has on Cathy. Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Helen thinks she may be pregnant. The feeling is familiar from her previous life.
How has living in Jenny's body helped Helen's character evolve? What is different about how Helen is reacting to the darkness lurking by Jenny's body?
Jenny has no memory of her life while Helen inhabited her body. She is not aware of anything that just took place.
Where has Helen been transported to?
Helen was unable to hear her daughter's call because she refused to revisit her past.
Chapters 11-16 Quiz