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Gift from the Sea  Reading Guide Questions




Gift from the Sea--Chapters 1-2

  1. "The beach is not the place to work; to read, write or think. I should have remembered that from other years." (p 15)    To what extent do you agree or disagree with AML's statement?


  1. What does AML mean by wanting "to live 'in grace’.'"? (p. 23)    To what extent, as you begin your senior year, do you feel that you are "living in grace"?


  1. As AML begins to "simplify" her outer life, (her clothing, her house) what "inner" changes occur as well?


  1. "Simplification of outward life is not enough. It is merely the outside. But I am starting with the outside. I am looking at the outside of a shell, the outside of my life--the shell. The complete answer is not to be found on the outside, in an outward mode of living. This is only a technique, a road to grace. The final grace, I know is always inside." (p. 35)   What does AML mean?  Do you agree or disagree with her point?---explain


  1. How can you apply the "technique" of simplification to yourself as you begin your senior year?  Be specific


Critical thinking/insight/significant observations:

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Gift from the Sea--Chapter 3

  1. "We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen."  (p. 41) What does AML mean by this statement?

  1. To what extent is this true in your life?  Give examples.


  1. What is the difference between isolation and solitude?


  1. "We must re-learn to be alone....[we must] practice the art of solitude." (p. 42)  What does AML mean by this?


  1. Why do you think she calls solitude and "art" and why does she say we have to "practice" it?


  1. AML uses several metaphors in this essay. One is the metaphor of a woman being like a pitcher.  Explain the metaphor.


  1. To what extent is the metaphor true of women today?   Is it true of you?  Give examples


  1. "Our daily life does not prepare us for contemplation." (p. 54)  What examples from life in general, from your life specifically, support AML's point?


Critical thinking/insight/significant observation:

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Gift from the Sea--Chapters 4-5

  1. Although the Double-Sunrise stage primarily focuses on the honeymoon years of marriage, AML draws parallels to the relationships between parents and children, and those between friends. She says, "Every realtionship seems simple at its start....And then how swiftly, how inevitabily the perfect unity is invaded; the relationship changes; it becomes complicated, encumbered by its contact with the world." (p. 65)  Do you think this is true of your relationship with your parents? With your best friends? Explain.


  1. "Only a refound person can refind a personal relationship."  (p. 69)  What does AML mean by this? To what extent do you agree?


  1. To what extent can the Oyster Bed stage be an appropriate symbol for senior year? Be specific.


Critical thinking/insight/significant observation:


Gift from the Sea--Chapters 6, 7 & 8

  1. What is the image or metaphor that AML uses in the Argonauta essay to represent the "fully developed relationship"? How is the metaphor appropriate?


  1. "It is fear, I think, that makes one cling nostalgically to the last moment or clutch greedily toward the next." (p.105)  To what extent is this true of seniors?


  1. If "simplification" is the key concept of the "Channeled Whelk" essay, and "solitude" is the concept of the "Moonshell" essay, what is the central concept of "A Few Shells"?


  1. "For it is not the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well."  (p 115)  To what extent do you agree with AML?  How does this apply to you this year?


  1. Look at the way AML ends the essay "The Beach at My Back."  Has she solved the problems of her life?


  1. What is ironic about the ending?  What is her point?


Critical thinking/insight/significant observation:


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