A Lost Lady
A portrait of a woman who reflects the conventions of her age even as she defies them and whose transformations embody the decline and coarsening of the American frontier. BONUS: The edition includes an excerpt from The Selected Letters of Willa Cather.
The curriculet is being added to your library
Set in the Great Plains like most of Willa Cather's novels, "A Lost Lady" has as its core the changing relationship between the people and their land. The map below will give you an idea of which land is under discussion. (This annotation contains an image)
Which fictional work does the highlighted image of the boys evoke?
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?
What can you anticipate, given what you have already learned about Ivy?
Watch the following video about character development, and pay attention to how Mrs. Forrester in particular develops over the course of the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
What does the use of the word "monastic" suggest about Niel?
The photograph below give you an idea of the harshness of the winter on the Great Plains. What emotions does it evoke? (This annotation contains an image)
You are learning about Mrs. Forrester through the point of view of
Does Niel's response to Frank Ellinger's presence forebode something negative? Keep reading to see what happens.
What can you infer from the Captain's story?
Whist is a card game similar to bridge. While its rules are simple, playing well requires the use of intelligence and planning. Might there be some symbolic value in the use of the game here? (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz One - A Lost Lady
Which word best describes Mr. Ellinger?
Are you surprised that Mrs. Forrester and Mr. Ellinger are having an affair? Explain your thinking.
In the highlighted text, the author changes _____________ in an unusual way.
The literary reference here is to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in the late 1700s and famous for its telling of a story. Below is a link to the poem; read a few stanzas and be prepared to answer a question about it later. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on the first few stanzas of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," how does the poem compare to this novel?
Watch the following video about imagery, and then read the page. Try to imagine the scenery described, and appreciate how the author invites us to use all of our senses. (This annotation contains a video)
How is Captain Forrester different from his peers?
The decline in the Captain's health mirrors his financial decline. As you continue reading, think back on this chapter and decide if it represents a turning point in the story.
Why is Niel suddenly sad?
Niel's musings allow you a glimpse into his nostalgia for the Wild West, albeit from the perspective of a white man. How would a Native American look back on this period of American history?
What does the sundial most likely symbolize?
You can infer from this scene that the Captain has known about his wife's relationship with Mr. Ellinger for years. Can you think of a reason or two why he might accept it?
Quiz Two - A Lost Lady
Which of the following words best captures the mood evoked by the highlighted paragraphs?
It is somewhat ironic that Mrs. Forrester insists that she dislikes "people who cheat Indians," given that her home is on land that was taken from Native Americans. Below is a map showing the different tribes that once lived on the Great Plains, setting for this and other Cather novels. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer about Mrs. Forrester's feelings from her actions in this chapter?
Do you believe that Mrs. Forrester will remain calm? What kind of mood does the stormy night prepare you for?
Which of the following does not motivate Niel?
Below is a photograph of a sundial. What do you think of Mrs. Forrester's decision to use her husband's as a gravestone? (This annotation contains an image)
The main conflict in this novel is between
The Merry Widow is a character who appeared first in an opera by the same name, composed by Franz Lehár at the turn of the 20th century. It has been adapted by others in both opera and film. Below is a photograph from a more recent production of it. Be prepared to answer a question in the next few pages. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Mrs. Forrester resemble the image of The Merry Widow that you saw in the previous annotation?
When you finish reading Mrs. Forrester's tale, think about why the author includes this here. Do we learn anything new about the characters?
From Niel's perspective, what is the story's greatest tragedy?
How does the ending strike you? Do you feel a sense of completion?
Quiz Three - A Lost Lady