The Wretched Stone | Four Levels | Question and Answers


"The Wretched Stone" | Four Levels and Important Question Answers. "The Wretched Stone" is a children's picture book written by an American illustrator and writer Chris Van Allsburg. Chris Van Allsburg was born on June 18, 1949. The story is told from the perspective of Captain Randall Ethan Hope, the crew of the Rita Anne finds a strange, glowing cubic stone on an exotic island. Due to the strange stone, there was a sudden change of people's behaviours and also completely changed into hairy apes. Rita Anne nearly sank due to the great storm. As the Captain played a violin and read to them, they began to walk upright and recovered quickly. At last the ship rescued them and the Captain set a fire to Rita Anne to destroy the terrible glowing stone.

Characters:

1. Randall Ethan Hope (Captain of the Ship)
2. Mr. Howard (The first mate)
3. Other characters are Musicians, Storytellers, Dancers, Sailors, Avid (greedy) Readers etc


This story "The Wretched Stone" is actually a Captain's logbook. The journey started on May 8 and ended July 12 (2 Months and 4 Days).

1. The voyage started on 8th May having loaded the supplies.
2. On 6th June, they reached an island which was not mentioned in the map. Everything was strange and the plants were without fruits and there was unpleasant odor.
3. They found a two feet long, gray stone with glowing surface. The crew took the stone to the ship.
4. They forgot reading, singing, dancing, story telling and music playing. They gathered around the stone (TV).

5. On 15th June, a great storm approached the ship and nearly sank her. (The crew didn't help the captain because they were spellbound by televising. Unfortunately one night all the crew turned to ape.)

6. When the captain played violin and reads books for them. It had a positive meaning upon them. Then the crew returned to previous normal condition. (They requested the captain to set fire in the ship and sink her. When the captain promised to do it, they become happy. Finally they were rescued by another ship.)

"THE WRETCHED STONE" | Four Levels

1. Literal Comprehension: The story "The Wretched Stone" gives the detail account of a sea voyage from 8th May to 12th July of an unknown year. Rita Anne, the ship, started her journey on 8th May fine morning. The crew of Rita Anne were very skillful and they used their free time reading, singing, dancing and telling stories. After a month they discovered the strange island and found a strange glowing cubic stone. It sent a peculiar light which attracted all the crew/sellers. Crew of the Rita Anne stopped doing their activities as they passed all the time sitting before the strange glowing stone. Also there was a sudden change in the behaviours of the people on the ship. They did not speak, they climbed fast on the rope, they walked on the floor like an animal and they shrieked like monkeys. They locked themselves in the forward hold where the stone was kept. Once a great storm approached the ship and the Captain went there to ask for help but in surprise, he found that all of them were turned into hairy apes and did not understand anything what Captain said. Captain thought that it was their last day. But the ship didn't sink. Because of the lightening the stone did not give any light. The crew were sad and helpless. As the captain played a violin and read to them, they began to walk upright and recovered quickly. At last they were rescued by a ship and Captain set a fire to his ship, Rita Anne so that he could destroy the terrible glowing stone. The terrible stone here refers a television set metaphorically. It is focused on the disadvantage of being crazy of television.

2. Interpretation: The Wretched Stone is an account of a journey via ship where the reporter reports an amazing incident of a wretched stone or television set. The story of wretched stone is metaphorical symbolic. Here the stone refers to a television set. Before the television comes in use everything was in good condition and nothing was wrong. People were passing their time in some kind of creative works like, reading, singing, dancing and telling stories. But when it is brought, everyone is attracted by it and are busy only watching it. Before, they do their regular duties but later on they miss their duties, not their favourite programs. They think that the head of the family will do their all works for them. They remain like animals without proper education. They came back to the normal condition only after the television set was destroyed completely by setting fire on the ship by the captain.

3. Critical Thinking: Nowadays we hardly can find a house without a television set. This is the age of modern science and technology. Many scientific inventions have changed human life and the world. Computer, Mobile, Television, etc. have become the most essential things of people. These things are of great advantages and is impossible and difficult to live without it. After reading this story we can ask many questions regarding the uses of television in the modern society. As the writer says “The Wretched Stone” indicates the stone that gives lot of tensions and problems. This means people get more problems than benefits in watching TV. As we are away from the TV, we can be more creative, mannered and real human beings. I'm not against it but I think nothing is valuable, or valueless itself, it depends on the use and users. Right use of anything is advantageous but misuse and wrong use is disadvantageous. There are many good and useful things we have learned through television. But as the writer says it is not believable. How a person becomes a hairy ape only when he goes on watching it? Does it not interestingly teach many things? Why should we destroy it if it gives us a lot of information? There are some disadvantages as well. But we have to value its advantages equally. We have to be choosy and watch the selected programs. Is it the fault of the machine or the people who use it? Hence, only proper and right use of anything may be beneficial otherwise it may be harmful like the wretched stone-television in this story.
4. Assimilation: This story is very much useful and gives a good message to all today's people. The story has affected me very much. I have a very bad habit of watching television all the time. I spent my precious time watching many useless programs on TV. When we see the misuses of TV in our daily life, we can see similar situation. School children become crazy to non-creative programs. They should be interested about study. Most of housewives normally watch TV and kill their important time without any creative work. No doubt, if we can’t use TV properly, we can be meaningless and non-creative also helpless and sad like the apes in this story 'The Wretched Stone'. Everything becomes abnormal. I got a very much useful lesson from this story that overuse or misuse of today's modern equipments can damage children and everybody. So, I have determined to watch only those programs in television which are informative, educative, creative, fruitful and entertaining.

THE WRETCHED STONE Question and Answers:

Question No. 1: Summarize the plot of "The Wretched Stone" in one long paragraph.
Answer: Rita Anne, the ship, started her voyage in the fine morning with the supplies in it. The sailors were fine and they passed their free time reading, singing, dancing and telling stories. After a strange glowing stone was brought abroad from strange island they kept watching it. The behaviour of the crew and people was completely changed. They stop speaking, moved quickly through the rope, walked on the floor like an animal and they shrieked like monkeys. They locked themselves into the room with the strange stone when Captain was going to throw the stone. They thought that Captain could sail the ship alone. A great storm approached the ship and the Captain went there to ask for help but in surprise, he found that all of them were turned into hairy apes and did not understand anything what Captain is saying. Captain thought that it was their last day. But the ship didn't sink. Because of the lightening the stone did not give any light and the crew were sad and helpless. Captain played a violin and read to them, they began to walk upright and recovered quickly. Finally they were rescued by another ship and the Captain set a fire to his ship, Rita Anne so that the wretched stone would drown. He thought that Television was not a useful thing. It was just a wretched stone that made his friends so fascinated and they did not help him. So he disliked the television and he gave a new name wretched stone.

Question No. 2: While reading "The Wretched Stone", has it occurred to you that this is actually an allegorical tale about the corrupting influence of television? Please try to document this interpretation from the book itself. Pay special attention to the June 6 entry: What kind of surface does the rock have? It is how many feet across?
Answer: After reading the whole story "The Wretched Stone", it can be said that this is actually an allegorical tale about the corrupting influence of television. An allegory is a story whose moral is symbolically reserved to. The strange stone could be a symbol of television in many ways - a glowing object that draws human to stare at it for hours at a time and shuts down creative parts of the brain. As described on June 6 it was a rock, about two feet across. It was roughly made, grey in color, but a portion of it was flat and smooth as glass. From this surface came a shining light that was a quite beautiful and pleasing to look at it. Actually, it was a television set.
The sailors were reading, singing, dancing, playing music, and working before the strange stone was found and then finally became hairy apes that simply gathered around the stone and stared. The strange light reflected off the blank faces of the apes like the flickering light from a television. Having distressed the stone, the sailors came back to their senses. The stone was an exact metaphor for television or simply invented to describe how people can be lured away from the creative activities that brings joy and energy to life. In this way, Allsburg's allegorical tale is a satire and criticism of television. So, this is actually an allegorical tale about the corrupting influence of television.

Question No. 3: Explain how Ariel Gore might reply to such TV critic as Van Allsburg.
Answer: TV critic Van Allsburg does not like watching TV by children. He is not support of watching TV by children. He says watching TV makes human beings simply gather around the stone and stare around it. It also is said that they become human when they stop watching TV and start reading. We can not hope excellence and truth and objective information from them. We cannot stop them from doing such things. Therefore we should protect ourselves from such TV virus.
In other side, Ariel Gore would reply that the children can interact with TV as well as with human beings. There are many TV programmers which convey a lot of good messages for all type of people. Kids or children learn so many good things while watching TV. She assures that TV is not the best thing, but poor working mother can get time to earn money and make life tolerable when everything is so costly. In this way, we can guess that perhaps Ariel Gore would reply TV critic as Van Allsburg that watching TV has no bad effects. Though too much of anything is not good, proper use of TV, radio, computer, mobile, etc. like modern inventions is worthwhile.
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