My Kinsman, Major Molineux, Nathaniel Hawthorne
"My Kinsman, Major Molineux" is a short story written by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1831. It first appeared in the 1832 edition of The Token and Atlantic Souvenir, published by Samuel Goodrich. (From Wikipedia)
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My Kinsman, Major Molineux, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Based on the definition of "preface," why does the author choose to include this opening paragraph in his story?
Based on the author's description of the setting, which of the following conflicts is most likely to surface during this story?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Try it now with the word "preface," and then answer the question that follows.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of this short story, is one of America's best-known 19th century writers. He set many of his works in early New England; this particular story is set in the colonial Massachusetts Bay Colony. For more information about the author and his best known works, watch the video below. How might the information you learn in this video help you have a greater understanding of the context of this story? (This annotation contains a video)
In this paragraph, the author introduces the protagonist, or main character. Robin is a seventeen year old "country-bred" young man. How else does the author describe him? For more about how an author develops a complex character, watch the video below. As you read, continue to observe Robin's development based on his words, actions, and other people's reactions to him. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following can the reader most logically infer based on the text?
Based on the author's word choice in this passage, which of the following is most likely to be true about the old man?
Why do the barbers come to the door?
The stocks, shown below, were a method of public punishment commonly used in colonial times. A victim in the stocks was unable to move, usually for hours or even days at a time, so that onlookers could publicly observe his or her humiliation. What does this mention of the stocks lead you to infer? (This annotation contains an image)
While Robin concludes that this encounter went badly due to the old man's lack of "breeding," Hawthorne's description of the old man's appearance should lead the reader to understand that this is not actually the case. What details about the old man show the reader that Robin is mistaken about his social status? What other possible explanations could exist for the man's rudeness about Robin's request? As you read, continue to closely observe the various reactions of the people Robin encounters.
Why does the author include this detail?
Based on the text, what is Robin's plan?
How does the illustration shown above compare with Hawthorne's description of this tavern? Use specific details from the text to explain your answer.
Which of the following is most likely the reason why the author includes the detail that this distinctive stranger's "eyes glowed... like fire in a cave"?
Robin notices a group of "ill-dressed" associates near the door of the inn. These men, we learn later, are a group of rebels who are planning a sort of demonstration. Follow the link below and listen to an excerpt of the revolutionary-era song "The Rebels" (Track 206). How does the tone of the song compare with the description of these men in the tavern? What type of person would be most likely to sing "The Rebels" during this time period? (This annotation contains a link)
An inn similar to this one that Robin enters is shown below. How do the patrons of each tavern differ? Observe both the illustration and the text carefully. Then, answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains an image)
This is not the first time that the townspeople have reacted strangely to Robin's inquiries. By describing the townspeople's reactions along with the politically charged atmosphere of the city, the author builds tension into the plot of the story. For more information about tension, see the video below. As you continue reading, remember to pay attention to the building tension and its effects on the reader. (This annotation contains a video)
What is Robin's intention before he notices the "strange hostility" in the strangers' faces in the room?
As Robin continues to encounter people who are rude to him or make him feel like a country bumpkin, how has his mood changed from the beginning of the story? What other changes in his attitude are you beginning to notice? Continue to monitor his emotional development as the tension in the story rises toward its climax.
What is the sound that Robin recognizes?
Scarlet, or a deep red color, is often used by authors to symbolize sin and temptation. While she has a sweet voice, the author provides several clues - the scarlet petticoat and the "sly freedom" in her eyes - to let the reader know that she is not to be trusted. Why do you think the author includes this encounter in the story?
What words in this passage best indicate the author's tone toward the character of Robin?
Robin continues to wander, lost, through the strange streets of the city. He almost seems to be sleepwalking. Some critics of this story believe that Robin's entire experience is dreamlike; what other details do you notice that might support this theory?
The mystery of Major Molineux continues to deepen, but here Robin meets the first character who actually acknowledges his kinsman. Does this detail make him feel more or less at ease about his relative's whereabouts? Notice how the author continues to drop hints for both the reader and the antagonist in order to heighten the rising tension in the story. How does the image below relate to this rising tension? (This annotation contains an image)
What details about this man are disturbing to Robin? Cite specific evidence in your answer.
According to the text, what sorts of sounds is Robin hearing in the town?
The moonlit, lonely cemetery, similar to the one pictured below, worries Robin, who begins to wonder if Major Molineux is actually dead. However, what previous evidence from the text keeps the reader from believing this theory? (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the text, who is "the good man in the midst"?
Robin finally meets a stranger who is kind to him without being sly. As you continue reading the author's description of this stranger, notice how his kindness encourages Robin to open up about his background.
Based on the gentleman's reaction to Robin's question, what should the reader understand?
Now that the reader hears Robin's full story, what do we now understand about his character and his purpose in finding his kinsman? What details in Robin's story indicate that while he may be innocent, he is also deserving of respect?
This kind stranger's observation here is important. What does he mean by his statement that a man might have several voices or two faces?
How does Robin's description of events as "merry-making" compare to the narrator's tone when conveying certain details about the scene? Use specific words and phrases from the text to support your answer.
Hawthorne's description of the horseman is that he is "war personified." For more information on the use of personification and how it can intensify language, watch the video below. How does this particular description help you visualize both this character and the scene? (This annotation contains a video)
The use of the word "pageantry" indicates that the horseman and his followers are intending to put on a show. What other words and phrases indicate that a demonstration is about to take place?
What is the effect of the author's use of personification in the phrase, "the trumpets vomited a horrid breath"?
Many critics of this short story believe that Major Molineux symbolizes a failing, yet still noble, British empire. What details in this description support that interpretation?
Based on the earlier detail of his shrewdness, why is "Robin's shout... the loudest there"?
Based on the author's word choice in this passage, which of the following is most likely a true statement?
Notice how the author's physical description of Robin has changed since the beginning of the story. How else have you seen the character develop as he has learned the truth about his kinsman? For more information about static and dynamic characters, watch the video below. Based on the video, what sort of character is Robin? (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz, My Kinsman, Major Molineux