The Discourager of Hesitancy 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 enjoyed Frances Stockton's ~'The Lady or the Tiger~', they will also like ~'The Discourager of Hesitancy~'. This lesson provides some questions that will prompt good discussions of the story.

Teaching The Discourager of Hesitancy

Frances Stockton's The Discourager of Hesitancy is the equally compelling and mysterious sequel to his well known story, The Lady or the Tiger. In The Discourager of Hesitancy, visitors come from the lost courtier's kingdom to discover what has become of his countryman.

As with the initial story, this one does not have a clear ending, and the visitors learn an entirely different story that leads them to think about themes like what it means to make a decision or to know and love another person.

To help your students get more out of The Discourager of Hesitancy, you will probably want to facilitate some discussions about the text. The questions in this lesson will help your students talk thoughtfully with each other as they get to know this story and what it is all about on a variety of levels.

Questions About Characters

The questions in this section will help your students think about the characters in The Discourager of Hesitancy.

  • Describe the personality of the official who meets the travelers upon their arrival. What is he like, and why is he an important character?
  • Who is the prince in the story the official tells? What is he like as a person, and what are the struggles he faces?
  • Characterize the Discourager of Hesitancy as a person. What does he act like, what motivates him, and what does he represent in relation to the story?
  • What is motivating the five travelers at the premise of this story? How are their motivations both thwarted and realized over the course of the story?
  • Which characters in this story would you describe as most powerful, and why? What allows them to have power, and how do they use their power?
  • What is the role of gender in differentiating the motivation and behavior of the different characters in this story and its prequel?

Questions About Plot

Here, you will find questions that help students untangle the plot of the story in conversation with each other.

  • Talk about the premises behind the start of this story. What happens before the story starts, and how do these events influence how this story begins and then plays out?
  • What does it mean to have a story within a story in this text? How do the different stories relate to one another or move each other forward?
  • Why is it significant that the man in the story of the forty brides has to make a choice? What do you think about this particular plot twist?
  • What do you make of the ending of this story? How is it both similar to and different from the ending of the prequel, and what do you think it means overall?
  • Which aspects of this story's plot did you find most compelling and interesting, and why? Which aspects, if any, did you find unappealing or difficult, and why?

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