A Shady Plot

1 Justify the title of Elsie Brown’s story “A Shady Plot”.

Elsie Brown very appropriately titled her story “A Shady Plot”. The word “shady” means anything of dubious character. In the story John Hallock was struggling to write a ghost story but the ghost of Helen told him that he would not be able to write any story. Ironically the ghost of Hellen inspires John’s creativity to write a story. In the end, what John got was not a “Shady” but the best plot for the story.

2 Describe the use of humour, satire and irony in “A Shady Plot”.

We get a number of fusion of humour, satire and irony in the story. Humour and irony find best expression when John said, “My wife is not so pretty when she is doing something she knows I disapprove of.” Laura Hinkle was humoursly called a flirtatious crocodile”.

3 How do you consider “A Shady Plot” an ideal ghost story?

Elsie Brown’s “A Shady Plot” is an ideal ghost story based on a supernatural theme and the paranormal atmosphere. The first sighting of Helen’s apparition is a classical example of story. The supernatural theme occurred in the story when the Ouija board fanatics were seen receiving answer from the ghost.

4 What did Jenkins ask John Hallock to do and why?

Jenkins asked the narrator to write a ghost story based on the supernatural theme. He wanted to give “the horrors” that’s what the public wanted. Actually, he expected something more sensational and hair-raising stuff this time.?

5 Why couldn’t John refuse Jenkins? Give two reasons.

First, Jenkins magazine had been the only magazine that could print his story. Secondly, when the landlord or the grocer demanded money was there to help him. John needed some extra money to pay the required demand. Hence, it was difficult to contradict or refuse Jenkins.

6 Why did John say “This writing business is delightful. Isn’t it.”

Jenkins wanted a ghost story from John Hallock for his magazine. John was unable to concentrate. He was finding difficult to write a story. He sat down at his desk and waited but nothing happened. His mind began to wander off. That’s why in despair he uttered out “This writing business is delightful, isn’t it.”

7 Describe the first appearance of Helen’s ghost before the narrator.

While John was struggling to dig out a story, he heard a voice at the end of the room. The narrator jumped in surprise and looked around, he suddenly noticed something just taking shape. First an arm came out then a sleeve, leg and at last there ‘she’ was complete.

8 What does Helen’s ghost tell about the aim of her appearance?

The ghost replied that she had just come to tell him to stop bothering her and other ghost for any help. They were going on strike. It meant that he would not get any creative inspiration for writing the stories.

9 Why and how did Helen, the ghost organise ‘the writer’s inspiration bureau’?

Helen, the ghost revealed that she was a writer in the previous life. She remained confused in ideas. When she attained her present form she decided to something. She found others who had suffered from same situation. They organized ‘The Writer’s Inspiration Bureau”. The aim was to find a writer without ideas and help such writers.

10 why were ghosts on strike? How was that to affect John according to Helen, the ghost?

The ghosts were on the strike because people had been called out too often in recent years. It created trouble for them. Helen told him that he would not get any assistance from them in future.

11 Why did John not allow his wife Lavinia to come before the ghost?

John knew his wife was subjected to hysterics. He knew that if she had seen any cockroach or mouse in her room, then she would have crying loudly. Therefore John prevented all the pains and did not allow her to meet the ghost.

12 What did he do to earn a living?

John had many responsibilities. He was doing the job of a book-keeper in a lumber company.

13 How according to Lavinia the Ouija board could help John in writing stories?

Lavinia said that the Ouija board could help John write his stories. Suppose he wanted to write a historical novel, he would not have to read old books. He could take out his Ouija board and could talk to any character.

14 What was the duckiest and darlingest thing that Lavinia bought? Did that pleases John?

Lavinia bought a ouija board. She was quite excited. She called it the duckliest and darlingest theing in the world. John considered it just useless.

15 Why did Lavinia not want to return the Ouija board?

Lavinnia did not want to return the ouija board because she had bought on a bargain sale. Second, if John did not want to use she would keep it for herself.

16 Describe Lavinia’s Ouija board party.

Ouija board party was interesting as it involved elderly women and a single man. They were sitting in couple. There was a Ouija board between each couple. They were operating Ouija boards to have communication with ghosts.

17 Why did John say ironically that his wife was never so pretty as when she was doing something she knew he disapproved of? Give two examples to prove it.

Ironically, Lavinia’s face started glowing with pleasure when she did a thing not like by her husband. First, she bought the duckiest, darlingest Ouija board which John hated so much she asked him to be a partner of flirtatious Laura Hinkle whom he disliked.

18 What did Laura Hinkle spell loudly after reading them on the Ouija board? How did those spellings on the board affect John Hallock?

Laura spelled out loudly “T-r-a-i-t-o-r”. when she wanted to know its meaning, the board replied “A-s-k-h-i-m”. Laura’s finger stuck to the board and she asked, “Ouija will you tell us who is taking?” Laura spelled out “H-e-l-e-n”. john felt miserable and wanted to run away immediately.

19 What was the gossip among ladies and how did Lavinia and John react to it?

Laura at once tole Lavinia that some Helen had just been calling her husband on the Ouija board. Soon the rumor spread that john was flirting with some Helen. All the five Ouija boards were calling him by name. Lavinia looked at him angrily. John felt miserable.

20 How did the Ouija party affect john and Lavinia’s relationship?

John had left the party humiliated. Next morning at the breakfast table there was no sign of his wife. He heard a tap at the door and a white slip of paper slid under it. Lavinia had written that she was going back to her grandmother. Her lawyer would communicate with him later. Their relations were on the verge of breaking down.

21 Why did John say to Helen, the ghost, “I wish to heaven I’d never seen you!”

john held Helen responsible for all his present tensions because of her Lavinia was very upset and angry. She decided to go back to her grandmother. John felt losing his wife, home and peace for ever.

22 Why did Gladolia want to go away and how was she persuaded to stay back?

Gladolia, the cook wanted to go away because she was scared of the Ouija board and the hoodoos. Lavinia persuaded her to stay by saying if she was scared of it she could use it to kindle fire.

23 Why did Lavinia give a satisfactory smile after seeing Helen, the ghost?

When Lavinia saw the owl-eyed Helen, she was delighted. She was unattractive. She posed niether danger to her nor could John flirt with such a woman. Initially she had thought of Helen of Troy.

24 How did John get the bulliest plot for a ghost story?

John had blamed her, her found that she was responsible for destroying her life. But on the other hand Helen became a source of inspiration for John. She provided the bulliest and the best plot for writing a ghost story.