These exercises were sent in by Jocelyn Allen, an Australian teaching English in Germany. They have been specially designed for non native English speakers. Thanks Jocelyn!
1. How does the narrator emphasise that he is a creature of habit? Why does he like the “unchanged and unchangeable” fellow travellers?
2. What seem to be the main characteristics of the people he passes during his daily walk from Cannon Street to the office? In what way are their lives “regulated nicely by the minute hand of the accurate watch”?
3. In what ways are we told that the stranger “was not one of us”?
4. Why do different newspapers feature in the story? Do we associate certain things with particular newspapers, and if so what?
5. What seems to you to have been the worst thing that Perkins had to suffer at school? Why didn’t he write home to his parents telling them the truth?
6. Does Perkins want to expose the stranger in front of other commuters because he envies the stranger’s good looks or because he wants a sort of revenge?
7. Do you think the stranger really is who he says he is, or is it in fact Galloping Foxley trying to avoid being discovered?
8. Do you agree with Perkins that “there’s nothing routine and regularity for preserving one’s peace of mind”? What are the advantages and disadvantages of organising your life around routine?
9. Using the very detailed descriptions we are given of both Perkins and the stranger, either write a character sketch of each, or draw each of them.
10. Further Writing:
- Train Journeys
- First Day at School