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Tasks: Mrs Bixby and the Colonel's Coat

Tasks to the short story "Mrs Bixby and the Colonel's Coat" by Roald Dahl.

Comprehension

  1. Why had the Colonel given Mrs Bixby a mink coat?
  2. Why did Mrs Bixby have to come up with a plan?
  3. Why do you think Mr Bixby says he will be working late?
  4. What did Mrs Bixby realise when she saw Miss Pulteney with the coat?

Writing

Write a summary or retell the story paying attention to:

  • Mrs Bixby's monthly visits to Bristol
  • the parting gift she got and the problem it represented
  • how she intended to get around this problem
  • what she told her husband about the pawn ticket
  • what her husband decided they should do about it
  • the arrangement made by Mr Bixby after he had been to the pawnbroker
  • how it finally dawned upon Mrs Bixby what her husband was up to

Act It Out

Sit in pairs and act out the following scenes from the text

  • At the railway station: Mrs Bixby and Wilkins.
  • At the pawnbroker's: Mrs Bixby and the pawnbroker.
  • At home: Mr and Mrs Bixby.
  • At the office: Mr and Mrs Bixby.


After having rehearsed in pairs, perform the scenes in class.

Discussion

  1. What do you think of Mrs Bixby's plan to fool her husband? Do you see any alternatives to going to the pawnbroker?
  2. How would you characterise the relationship, based on the dialogue in the Bixby home? What is said between the lines?
  3. Do you think Mrs Bixby gets what she deserves?
  4. Today a fur coat is considered a controversial gift. Why?

Literary Analysis

  1. Describe Mr and Mrs Bixby.
  2. Who, if any, is the reader meant to sympathise with?
  3. The fact that everything seemingly goes according to plan, contributes to a gradual increase in tension. What does this say about the expectations of the reader?

Writing/Make a Poster

  1. There is an idiom in English which says: “'If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas”. This means that if you become involved with bad company, there will be negative consequences. Write a text using this idiom as a starting point or make a poster where you visualise the idiom.
  2. You are working for an anti-fur organization. As a part of your organization's campaign, you are asked to make a poster. Make the poster with slogans and pictures that support your message. You decide the organisation's name.

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