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Mammon and the Archer Discussion Questions

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If your students are in the midst of a short story unit, O. Henry's ~'Mammon and the Archer~' is an important text to dwell on. This lesson offers discussion questions that will help them work together to understand the story.

Reading Mammon and the Archer

Are you teaching your students about the value and power of a good short story? Or perhaps you are spending some time focusing specifically on the works of classic American author O. Henry. Either way, Mammon and the Archer is an important text to analyze together.

If you want your students to get as much as possible out of Mammon and the Archer, it can help to facilitate strong discussions that let students work together to understand the story. When students have a meaningful literary discussion, they often learn more from each other than they could learn from you!

The discussion questions in this lesson will facilitate strong discussion of the story. These questions are intentionally open-ended and do not have right or wrong answers. Instead, they are designed to motivate students to think aloud as they work through the text.

Questions About Characters

Here, you will find questions about the characters in the story.

  • Describe Richard's personality. What would you say mostly characterizes him? Use evidence from the story to back up what you are saying.
  • What are some of the ways that Richard and his father, Anthony, are different from each other? What do you think accounts for these differences? Also discuss any similarities you see between them.
  • What do you know about Miss Lantry as a person? What seems to draw Richard to her, and how would you characterize their relationship?
  • Talk about your opinion about Richard's sister Ellen. Why is she an important character in this story? What do you think her character represents?
  • Which character in this story do you identify with the most strongly, and why? Discuss what you share with this character.
  • Analyze whether any of the characters in this story really changes over the course of the plot, and why or why not. What do you think O. Henry shows via the change or lack of change?
  • Characterize your reaction to what you learn about what Anthony has done at the end of this story. What do you think about his actions? What do they demonstrate about his character?
  • Talk about the role of Kelly in this story. What do you know about Kelly as a person? Why is he important, and how does he relate to the other characters?

Questions About Plot

This section offers questions focusing on the plot of Mammon and the Archer.

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