1. Who is Jo? How does she respond to her father’s storytelling?
Ans. Jo was a four-year-old girl who was fond of listening to stories. Every Saturday afternoon, her father Jack used to tell a story to Jo to put her to sleep. Jo was a very keen listener and used to ask many questions. She even predicted the next movement. She used to get involved so much in the story that her body and facial expression also changed accordingly.
2. What possible plot line could the story continue with?
Ans. Here the possible plot line could be that Roger Skunk’s mommy would not like the smell of roses. She would take him back to the wizard and would ask him to change his smell and to make him smell like a skunk again.
3. What do you think was Jo’s problem?
Ans. Jo was a small girl. For her peer acceptance was of prime importance. She could not imagine the main character of the story to smell so bad as to be humiliated and shunned by other animals. It was quite embarrassing to smell bad, so she wanted acceptability and peer appreciation as she identified with the pain and suffering of Roger Skunk.
4. What makes Jack feel caught in the ugly middle position?
Ans. Jack feels caught in the ugly middle position because his little daughter was in a defiant mood and wanted the wizard to hit mommy. But Jack didn’t want to lose his authority so he threatened her and ordered her to sleep. He was feeling helpless in handling his little daughter who had suddenly started asserting her opinion. Moreover, he knew that his wife was waiting for him to help her. So he feels. trapped and uneasy.
Reading with Insight
5. What is the moral issue that the story raises?
Ans. The story deals with the moral issue of the extent of parental control over the children. How much freedom is to be given to the children? Moreover, the story raises an issue whether children should be allowed to remain in an ideal world of their views or should they be forced to accept the harsh realities of the adult world and at what age.
6. How does Jo want the story to end and why?
Ans. Jo wants a happy ending to the story. She wants that Roger Skunk will get the smell of roses and mommy should be punished. She wants that the wizard should hit mommy because it is cruel on the part of mommy to make Roger Skunk again smell like a Skunk. As small child acceptability and peer appreciation are of prime importance.
7. Why does Jack insist that it was the wizard that was hit and not the mother?
Ans. For Jack hitting the mother was a challenge to the parental authority. While defending Roger’s mother, Jack is unconsciously defending his own mother who could never be wrong. He wanted his daughter to understand the fact that mothers can never be wrong. In other words, parental authority is for the benefit of the child.