An Old-Fashioned Girl
First serialized in a magazine, this classic tale of a country-raised girl whose whole world is turned upside down when she is sent to live with her sophisticated, wealthy relatives is brimming with the charms that have made Alcott's work, including the novel Little Women, so abidingly popular. A must-read for fans of classic children's literature, young and old alike. (From feedbooks.com)
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AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL
Polly is the old-fashioned girl referenced in the title, so obviously her character is going to be significant in the book. Watch the video below about character development, then pay attention to how Polly evolves throughout the book as well as noticing what role she plays in the development of the other characters as well. (This annotation contains a video)
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... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Fanny said she didn’t want to go with Tom to get Polly because she wouldn’t “...have a crimp left”; Tom has made reference to her “frizzles” and now her “crinkles” What are they referring to?
This is likely an allusion to Aesop's fable "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse," which you can read at the link below if you're not familiar with it. Watch for ways that Fanny's and Polly's relationship mirrors what happens with the two mice in the fable. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on what you’ve seen of Fanny so far, what does she seem extremely concerned about?
The word "queer" in our current day and age has taken on more of a negative connotation due to the way it's used in slang. Use the define feature to see the definitions of "queer," including the common slang definition, then be sure to determine which definition is meant when you see the word used throughout this novel.
Before reading on, think about what Madame said earlier to Polly about young girls. What do you think she would think of Polly attending the theater?
Kid gloves are gloves made of thin, soft leather. They are often made from the skin of young goats, lambs, or calves. (This annotation contains an image)
Write a quick comparison of Polly and Fanny, making sure to use specific details from the story.
Polly just finished explaining to Fanny that she can deal with Tom because he's just a boy and acts like a boy. How did what just happened prove Polly's assessment of Tom?
Which word could be used to describe Tom and Fanny?
You don't see molasses candy much anymore. Follow the link below to a recipe if you would like to try to make some of this classic treat. (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Fanny threaten Polly with Tom getting a lecture?
Creosote is the residue left after burning things like wood or tar. Creosote from wood can be refined into an oil and used as a pain killer, which is what Grandma is hoping to use to help Tom relieve his pain from eating too much molasses candy!
Why is being old fashioned acceptable in Grandma but not Polly?
The photo below shows a pair of fashionable boots, possibly similar to the ones Fanny might like to wear. How would these compare to shoe fashions today? (This annotation contains an image)
Fanny muses that Polly likes Tom. Do you think Polly does indeed like Tom or not? Explain your opinion by using details from the text.
Polly is giving in to peer pressure. Is this the first time you've seen her do this? Do you think it will be the last?
Which of the following likely did NOT play a part in Polly buying the boots?
The feeling of regret that Polly is experiencing is a feeling many people have after buying something they shouldn't have. In fact, the feeling happens so often that there is an actual name for it: buyer's remorse.
Why do you think Polly treats the family this way?
At the website below, you can take a peek into a Latin textbook similar to the one Tom is using. What would you think of taking a class in school where this was one of your textbooks? (This annotation contains a link)
What did Tom get that he wanted the most?
If you guessed that a velocipede is a bicycle, you are correct. It is an old-fashioned type of bicycle where the front wheel is larger than the back wheel. (This annotation contains an image)
What has most likely brought about this change in Tom, making him more agreeable than when you first met him?
Camphor is a pungent, aromatic liquid. Have you ever smelled moth balls or menthol rub? Then you know what camphor smells like. It has been used to relieve pain in muscles or headaches. What do you think Tom might need camphor for?
What lesson or lessons do you think Tom and Fanny learned from Polly's talking about her brother Jimmy? Do you think the lessons learned will last? Why or why not? Develop your response using details from the text.
At the website below, you can read about the meaning and the origin of the word philopena. After reading the information, what do you think Fanny is saying about the flowers she received? (This annotation contains a link)
How does Fanny most likely feel after hearing her father say he wants her to be more like Polly?
You can see an example of an ermine muff in the picture below. A muff was a fashionable way for ladies to keep their hands warm. Ermine is a type of fur that comes from a weasel-like animal called a stoat. (This annotation contains an image)
What is ironic about Tom being discovered "reading studiously"?
Try to empathize with Polly. How would you feel if someone stumbled upon your journal or diary and read it?
Do you feel sympathy for Fanny since she has come to the realization that she wasn't as kind as she could have been to Polly? Why or why not?
You have seen the word "pet" and "pets" more than once so far in this book, but it isn't used the way you are probably used to it being used. What would be the best way to explain what "pets" means in this context?
You are going to read a number of flashbacks in this chapter. Watch the video below to gain an understanding of what flashback is and what it is used for. Then try to determine what purpose the flashbacks in this chapter serve. (This annotation contains a video)
What are the girls likely to discover about their grandmother from this story?
Envelopes used to be sealed with a drip of hot wax them stamped with a metal stamper. You can see what this would look like in the picture below. (This annotation contains an image)
Which word would best describe Betsey in this situation?
The photo below shows examples of what the nightgowns the girls were wearing might have looked like. Would these have been comfortable to sleep in? (This annotation contains an image)
Writers can use several methods to create suspense in their writing. Read the article below to see advice for writers on how to create suspense, then as you read the story that Grandmother recounts, look for any of the ideas put forth in the article. (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following is NOT a way that Grandmother builds suspense in the telling of her story?
Lafayette was a notable figure in the American Revolutionary War. You can read about his involvement in the fight for American independence at the site below to help understand why Grandmother would keep a glove that was touched by Lafayette! (This annotation contains a link)
Who is Polly referring to in her implied statement?
Anne Boleyn was Queen of England as well as mother of Queen Elizabeth I. She is also well known for being the first of Henry VIII's wives to be beheaded. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is this chapter simply titled, "Grandma'? Be sure to make references to specific points from this chapter in developing your response.
Words can have a denotation and a connotation. Denotation is the definition of a word. Connotation is the feelings associated with a word. It is the connotation of the word "preaching" that upsets Polly in this context. What is Fanny trying to say when she refers to Polly's mother's "preaching"?
Why is Polly mad?
A snood is a hair ornament similar to what you see in the picture below. (This annotation contains an image)
How are Tom and Fanny's reactions to Grandmother's preference for Polly's appearance unexpected?
The video below shows a couple demonstrating a redowa, which is a spinning, quick-paced waltz. Keep the vision of this dance in mind once you start to read about Polly and Tom's dance. (This annotation contains a video)
Before reading any further, recall what you have read about Fanny, Polly, and Mr. Sydney. How do you think Fanny will react to his asking Polly to dance? What makes you think she will react this way? Be sure to make references to specific events in the text in your response.
Sometimes people confuse macaroons with macarons. What's the difference? Macaroons are a fluffy coconut cookie while macarons are a dense sandwich cookie made of almond flour. (This annotation contains a link)
What is ironic about Polly feeling left out at the party?
Consider this for a moment. Using what you know of Fanny, do you think she will indeed meet her father as he comes home from work?
Quiz Chapters 1 - 7
Do you think Polly would say her visit was more pleasant or unpleasant? Why would she feel that way? Refer to specific events that took place to develop your response.
You only get occasional glimpses of Mrs. Shaw, but more often than not, they aren't pleasant. Does she seems to be shallow or is she just a product of her time and circumstance? Think of this as you continue through the book and see more of Mrs. Shaw.
Why would Fanny think it would be a "dreadful hardship" to work for one's living?
Here is another opportunity to assess Mrs. Shaw.
Why does the family love Polly so much?
Are Tom's family members' reactions to his engagement to Trix what you would expect? What about Polly's reaction?
Why is it surprising to hear Fanny speak of Trix in such an unflattering way?
Canaries are one of the most beloved birds in American lore. Read about canaries at the website below to see what makes them so popular. (This annotation contains a link)
Which would be of more benefit to Fanny -- a little poverty or some new distractions? Explain why your choice would be best for her by making references to what you know of Fanny from reading the book.
A metaphor is being used here. To understand what a metaphor is, watch the video below, then see if you can identify the metaphor and determine what it is trying to convey. (This annotation contains a video)
How are the girls treating Polly? Do girls nowadays ever behave this way?
Which is NOT one of the reasons Trix shuns Polly?
The picture below is of the daphne flower, which is dainty and pink. They are known for having fragrant blooms but poisonous berries. (This annotation contains an image)
What would be the likely result of Polly attending the party?
Look at the website below to see some indicators that a person might be suicidal. Did little Jane show any of these possible signs? (This annotation contains a link)
Which is NOT a way that Polly and Jenny are alike?
Review the information about Polly and Will. How does the author establish their relationship? How can you tell that Polly and Will are incredibly close?
How does the brother/sister relationship between Tom and Maud compare to that of Will and Polly? Write a comparison of these two relationships using specific details from the story.
It's not a surprise that Maud would be entertained by Puttel's playing on the piano. People find a great deal of amusement in animals doing human things. Check out the wildly popular "Keyboard Cat" video below. Check out how many views it received! Cats and keyboards appear to have universal appeal! (This annotation contains a video)
Why do you think Fanny asked about Mr. Sydney visiting Polly so sharply?
Looking pretty is something so many girls and women strive for that it isn't unusual to attempt some pretty strange ways to be attractive, like using burnt hair-pins on eye lashes or using arsenic for a nice complexion. Read about some celebrity beauty routines and see if any of them sound less weird than the ones Fanny mentions here. (This annotation contains a link)
What is Tom referring to when he asks if Trix "paints"?
Use the define feature to look at the definitions for the word "cutter." Do any of them make sense in the context it is being used? What do you think a cutter is?
Why might peanuts be considered vulgar?
Which word might Polly use to describe Tom?
Do you think Tom and Maud are purposely trying to imitate Will and Polly's relationship, or are they just inspired by it?
Do you think Polly should try to help Jenny by speaking to Fanny and her friends at the sewing circle? Why or why not? Use what you know of Polly, Fanny, and the other characters in the story so far to develop your response.
Earlier you watched a video about metaphor. What is the author trying to convey in this metaphor?
Which of the following words would NOT describe Trix?
Belle is being delightfully snarky here. What is she hinting at when she says they pity Tom Shaw?
How are the ladies' reactions to Polly's story of Jenny unexpected?
Watch the video below to understand what character traits are. Then think about Fanny. Do her character traits indicate that she would end up being good friends with Jane? (This annotation contains a video)
How is all of this uncharacteristic of Polly? Think about what you know of her character and how she is behaving now.
If you use the define feature to look at the meanings for the word "worry," you'll see that none of them really fit the way the word is being used in this sentence. Using context clues, can you come up with a synonym for "worry" the way it is used in this sentence?
What are you supposed to understand through this allusion to Cinderella?
The allusion to the story of Cinderella is meant to evoke certain images. What are you supposed to imagine? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Tom implying about Clara Bird?
Beau Brummel, pictured below, lived during the late 1700s - early 1800s. He is credited with being the first to make wearing a suit with a necktie fashionable for men. His name is synonymous with style and good looks. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following statements taken from the highlighted paragraph is an idiom?
Review the definition of an idiom at the website below, then use that to help you answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains a link)
What is Fanny doing?
What is Fanny implying here? What is revealed by Polly's response?
Louisa May Alcott considered herself to be a feminist. How does this passage reflect the author's personal perspective?
Do you have sympathy for Fanny? Why or why not?
Which of the following elements of the statue do NOT reflect feminism?
Louisa May Alcott was a feminist, which means she believed in woman's equality with men. Do you think this was a popular viewpoint of this era?
Read the poem below, written by Emily Dickinson. What would Kate think of this poem? (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Fanny suddenly want to be and do more with her life? Be sure to use specific references to the text in writing your response.
What purpose does this stream of consciousness on Polly's part serve?
Read about the literary device stream of consciousness at the website below, then use that information to answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains a link)
Gaiters are worn over the shoes and upper leg as a way to protect from puddles and dirt. You can see what gaiters look like in the picture below. (This annotation contains an image)
Why might Mr. Sydney be "flushed and a little out of breath"?
What does Fanny mean using the simile, "...he bears it like a lamb"?
It wasn't unusual for girls the same age as Trix and Fanny to be already married. Check out the map below to see the average age of marriage around the world, which you can then compare to the age that Trix and Fanny are. (This annotation contains a link)
What is "the sudden sunshine that had come" to Fanny?
This chapter is starting out with some mysterious tension. Watch the video below to understand more about how tension is established and its role in a text. Then pay attention to how tension is created as this chapter progresses. (This annotation contains a video)
Tom has been expelled from school and he is in a great amount of debt. Using what you know about Trix, predict how she will react to this news. Why do you think she will react in this way?
To box someone's ears is an old-fashioned way to say hit or slap someone on the side of the head.
What has happened?
Fanny and Maud don't seem to have a grasp on how their lives are going to change.
Who is the friend Polly is referring to?
What positives are emerging from these negatives?
Quiz Chapters 8 - 15
Briefly discuss each of the following character's reactions to the financial news and explain if the reaction is expected or unexpected based on what you know of the characters. Include Fanny, Mrs. Shaw, and Polly.
In case you didn't remember, Snip is Tom's dog. What is being said about Fanny's housekeeping skills in this simile?
Which word could NOT be used to describe Polly in this scene?
The picture below is of cowslips, which tend to bloom in the spring. (This annotation contains an image)
William Shakespeare might be thought of as a poet because he wrote sonnets. In fact, there are two kinds of sonnets; one of them is called a Shakespearean sonnet, named for the type of sonnets he wrote. But he is also a poet because his plays can also be considered poems since they are written in verse using iambic pentameter rather than written in prose.
Who are Polly and Fanny talking about?
What Polly is saying here can be called a double entendre. Read about this literary device at the site below then determine what is being said in this double entendre. (This annotation contains a link)
Do you have sympathy for Tom? Why or why not? Make references to the character and his actions while developing your response.
If you think sweetbread is some kind of dessert, like a cake or muffin, you couldn;t be more wrong! Sweetbread is another term for organ meat. Would you like to try sweetbread? (This annotation contains a link)
Why is Tom enjoying himself so much in the kitchen?
Maud is referring to an incident from the previous chapter when Polly and Fanny were talking in code about Mr. Sydney. Why did they refer to him as "Sir Philip"?
What was in the letter Polly read?
What Polly is saying here is that now that Tom is no longer engaged to Trix, Polly is free to have feelings for him. Now she might not be able to think straight enough to give him good advice. She's allowed herself to become emotionally attached to Tom.
Summarize Tom's plan for getting his debts paid off.
How about you? Were you surprised Trix broke her engagement to Tom?
Which statement is NOT true about Tom and Polly?
This discussion in riddles between Polly and Fanny about Tom is much like the discussion between Juliet and her mother in Romeo and Juliet after Romeo kills Tybalt. Juliet says she wishes she could go to Romeo herself. She knows that she means so she can be with her husband, but her mother thinks she means to avenge her cousin's death. In the highlighted passage, Polly is being coy like Juliet was; she knows she's talking about Tom but Fanny thinks she is talking about someone else.
What foreshadowed Polly's empty feeling about Tom having another girl in his life?
Some people would say this is the definition of true love, when you care about someone else's happiness more than your own. Do you think Polly feels true love for Tom?
Why is Polly in such a negative state?
Think about the character of Fanny as she was at the beginning of this novel. Is she the same character now or has she changed and developed?
The author is using foreshadowing here. Make a prediction for how the story will end for Polly, Fanny, Tom, and Maud based on the foreshadowing in the highlighted passage.
In hindsight, can you understand why Ned didn't say much about Maria Bailey in his letters?
What is Polly implying here?
Pressing flowers is a common way to create a memento of a special occasion, like a prom or a wedding. If you want to try pressing your own flowers, check the website below for a few different methods you can use to press and preserve your own flowers. (This annotation contains a link)
Quiz Chapters 16 - 19
Why is this chapter called "Tom's Success"?