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Assignment for Class 12 English Vistas Chapter 5 Should Wizard Hit Mommy
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Vistas Chapter 5 Should Wizard Hit Mommy Class 12 English Assignment
John Hoyer Updike was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic. Updike's most famous work is his "Rabbit" series (the novels Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and the novella "Rabbit Remembered"), which chronicles the life of the middleclass everyman Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom over the course of several decades, from young adulthood to death. Both Rabbit Is Rich (1982) and Rabbit at Rest (1990) were recognized with the Pulitzer Prize. Updike is one of only three authors (the others were Booth Tarkington and William Faulkner) to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once. He published more than twenty novels and more than a dozen short story collections, as well as poetry, art criticism, literary criticism and children's books. Hundreds of his stories, reviews, and poems appeared in The New Yorker, starting in 1954. He also wrote regularly
for The New York Review of Books.
Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike was well recognized for his careful craftsmanship, his unique prose style, and his prolifically. He wrote on average a book a year. Updike populated his fiction with characters that "frequently experience personal turmoil and must respond to crises relating to religion, family obligations, and marital infidelity." His fiction is distinguished by its attention to the concerns, passions, and suffering of average Americans; its emphasis on Christian theology; and its preoccupation with sexuality and sensual detail. His work has attracted a significant amount of critical attention and praise, and he is widely considered to be one of the great American writers of his time. Updike's highly distinctive prose style features a rich, unusual, sometimes arcane vocabulary as conveyed through the eyes of "a wry, intelligent authorial voice" that
extravagantly describes the physical world, while remaining squarely in the realist tradition. He described his style as an attempt "to give the mundane its beautiful due."
Introduction to the story:
This story deals with a child's view of the world and the difficult moral questions she raises during the story session with her father. In the story, ‘Should Wizard hit mommy’, the writer, John Updike examines the issues of parenting and the flaws that inadvertently creep in. The adult tendency to quell the questioning mind of a child and also the intrusion of the beliefs held by adults to represent the only valid viewpoint, are areas that find mention in this simple yet powerful story.
John Updike’s story Should Wizard Hit Mommy’ raises a very pertinent and a profound issue. Should parents have the prerogative to always decide what is best for their children? And are children supposed to listen to and obey their parents unquestioningly? Roger Skunk, though an obedient child, is a sad and a depressed one. His awful smell keeps others away and he has no friends. When the Wizard fulfils his wish and Roger Skunk gets the rose smell, he is thrilled. All the other creatures love the smell and play with Roger Skunk. However Roger Skunk’s mother is not happy. She wants her son to get back his original smell. Roger Skunk accepts his mother’s dictate and slowly the other creatures get used to his smell. Jack, who brings this twist in the story, does so to expose Jo to the harsh realities of life. But Jo insists that Wizard should hit mommy, for making the Wizard give Roger Skunk back his bad smell. Jack is adamant in his refusal to change the ending of the story. He maintains that mothers are always right and that they know best. John Updike thus raises a very relevant question. Are parents always justified in enforcing their views upon their children in an attempt to teach their children what is right and what is wrong. Parents have experience and knowledge on their side whereas children view everything with their heart and want all to be happy and joyous. Parents need to guide their kids but they should also have the patience to respect and consider their children’s viewpoint.
Theme: The travails of a moral dilemma:
A conflict between a child’s perspective and an adult’s world-view has never been portrayed better. Jack, father of an inquisitive little girl, Joanne, of not more than 3-4 years, finds it hard to make his alwaysquestioning daughter accept his ending of the story about Roger skunk, whereby the skunk mother restores his son’s bad smell back. On the contrary, little Jo insists Roger’s mother being hit again with a wand on her head by the curer of Roger’s problem, the Wizard should hit with a wand. An innocent mind of a child would naturally want the best of all worlds. Roger and Jo symbolize just the same. Just to gain more acceptability among his woodland play-mates, Roger would lose his own character, his bad body odor. His need for friends is equal to his love for his mother now. And little Joanne likes the idea.
Viewing the situation from a diametrically opposite pole, the father counters her daughter. Mother is always right, he says.
Moral universe of a mature mind rationalizes the amoral universe of a child as wrong.
Between these two extremes, the golden mean is hard to find. The tussle between innocence and experience will continue.
Character Sketch of Jack
Jack is the protagonist of the story ‘Should Wizard Hit Mommy?’ which examines the issue of parenting, the adult tendency to quell the questioning mind of a child and the belief that the view points of the adult represents the only valid one. Jack is conscious of his duties as a father and husband. He has been telling stories to his daughter, Jo, since she was two years old. Before her Saturday and evening naps, but now two and a half years later he is fatigued and confused by her constant questioning, pointing errors, asking for clarifications and suggesting alternatives. He has the typical parental attitude and opinion that parents know what is best for their children and stifles her objections and amendments shown by his defending the skunk’s mother. Jack feels caught in an ugly middle position physically, emotionally and mentally. He did not like women to take anything for granted, to the extent that he extends the story, changing the ending, giving it the face that he wants to. This despite the fact that he knows that he should be helping his pregnant wife paint the woodwork. Jack is someone who is not used to his authority being questioned and so is confused by Jo’s questioning. Though a loving parent he finds it hard to accept the fact that Jo now has a mind of her own. His insensitivity and impatience come across in his dealings with his daughter, and the fact that an adult’s viewpoint is biased by personal experiences.
Notes on the chapter and questions based on it:
A. A Custom Of Storytelling By Jack
a) The chapter captures a very sensitive reaction of a small girl to an important aspect of the story that her father narrates to her.
b) The story reveals the worldview of a little child to a difficult moral question that shows her mental or psychological richness.
c) John Updike, the author examines the issue of parenting and the adult tendency to curb the questioning mind of a child. He also highlights the intrusion of the beliefs held by adults to represent the only valid viewpoint of the world.
d) Jo is a little girl of four years. She is engaged in a story session with her father.
e) Jack, the father used to tell her a story every evening and especially for Saturday naps.
f) He started this tradition when his daughter Jo was 2 years old and now it’s almost 2 years elapsed.
g) Jo feels herself involved with the characters and the happenings.
h) The story has a slight variation of a basic tale
i) It follows a simple unchanging plot in which the various characters all bear the name of Roger.
j) Roger fish or Squirrel or some other time it’s a chipmunk.
k) The story always had an animal with a problem.
l) The old owl advises him to visit the wizard who would solve the problem.
1. What was the custom or a necessary ritual for Jack?
2. Why was it necessary for Jack to tell stories in the evenings and on Saturday afternoons?
3. What type of stories did Jack usually tell his daughter?
4. “Each new story was a slight variation of a basic one”. What used to be the common features of Jack’s stories?
5. Describe Jack’s style of story-telling.
Jo Being Intrusive / a New Phase
a) Then roger on that particular day tells the story of the smelly Skunk who smelt so bad that he did not have any friends to play with.
b) It follows the same course except that in mentioning this fact, Jack is reminded of his own childhood and its humiliations and begins to feel that he is actually telling Jo something that is true and thus is no hurry to go any faster.
c) When Jo interrupts, he is irritated by her and is even more so when she asks whether magic spells are real.
d) He is reminded that of late she has been asking many questions. This wonderful evidence of Jo’s inquisitive progressing mind and intellect completely escapes Jack, so intent on getting on with the stories planned by him. His answers to her questions are short and peremptory and he fails to notice that her question about whether the old wizard could die might be assign of an inner fear.
e) He continues with the story and so involved is he in the story that Jo has to remind him that he has referred to Roger Skunk as Roger Fish.
1. Who is Jo? How does she respond to her father’s story telling?
2. What do the questions raised by Jo tell about her?
3. How can you say that Jo possesses an inquisitive nature while listening to the stories?
4. This was a new phase, just this last month, a reality phase. How did Jo behave in this ‘reality phase’?
what is the new phase?
5. Narrate instances to prove that Jo had grown? Or
6. What difference do you notice in Jo from the age of 2 to 4?
Story of Roger Skunk
a) On the particular day, a Saturday, it was time for Joanne's nap. So, Jack had to tell her a story. So he began his story and asked Joanne what the creature should be named. It seemed they had studied about a new animal at school today for she enthusiastically said "skunk, Roger skunk". The character was set and so began the story. Jack was now ready to start the story and was filled with creative enthusiasm.
b) The story started with the creature being unable to play and make friends with other creatures because he smelled awful. The creature having no other option went to seek the advice of the wise old owl who directed him to go the magician. Roger skunk found his way to the magician’s house and sought his help. The magician with his magic wand turned the awful smell that roger had into a smell that was of roses. The Roger creature then as directed gave the magician the pennies he had and as per the instruction of the magician went to the well to get the extra pennies. He gives it to him.
c) Throughout this story Jack wanted to teach his daughter Joanne about moral values, but his daughter Joanne (Jo), who was just a child, reacted differently to the story's ending. She wants the wizard to hit Roger's mother and let Roger smell of roses and not change him. This was a child's perspective of things. To a child, friends mean everything and they do not understand moral values and the importance of parents.
Jack had faced similar problems like roger had faced so he was trying to tell Jo that whatever parents say or do for them are in their best interest. But Jo was adamant and wanted another ending for the story. After the story ended jack went down to help his wife Clare paints the furniture. When he reached downstairs he saw that the woodwork, a cage of moldings and rails and baseboards all around them ,was half old tan and half new ivory and he felt caught in an ugly middle position, and though he as well felt his wife's presence in the cage with him, he did not want to speak with her, work with her, touch her, anything
1. Describe Roger Skunk.
2. What was Roger Skunk’s problem? How did he get it solved?
3. Describe the troubles that Roger Skunk had to face and what did he do?
4. How and why did all other animals tease Roger Skunk?
5. Why did the woodland creatures avoid Roger Skunk?
6. Narrate the story told by Jack to his daughter about a Skunk
7. What made Jo unhappy over Roger Skunk’s story?
8. What made Jo feel that the story was over?
9. Where did the Wizard live and how did he look like?
10. Where did Roger Skunk go for his immediate help?
11. How was Roger Skunk able to pay the requisite fee of the Wizard?
12. How did Roger Skunk find three more pennies?
13. How did he start to smell like roses?
14. Why did Roger Skunk go in search of the Wizard? What did he say to the Wizard?
15. What happened when Roger Skunk met the Wizard?
16. What did the Wizard do when Roger begged him for help?
17. How did the Wizard help Roger Skunk?
Animals Welcome Roger
Then Roger Skunk goes to play with his friends. That day they played tag, baseball, football, basketball lacrosse, hockey, soccer and pick-up-sticks.
1. How did the woodland creatures react to the skunk’s new smell?
2. What happened after Roger Skunk smelled very bad again?
3. How do the woodland creatures ultimately accept the skunk?
Skunk’s Mother Hits the Wizard
Then roger skunk went back home. As he reached home his mother was disappointed with roger skunk as she thought that it was not right to change one's identity to please their friends. She said real friends are the ones who accept you for who you are and not for whom you want to become. She then took roger back to the magician and hit the magician with the umbrella she had been carrying. The magician then performed his magic and roger no longer smelled of roses. After that they returned home just in time to hear the whistle of the train blow that brought Roger skunk's father home and from that day on, Roger skunk was content in being himself.
1. Why did Roger Skunk’s mother not like her son smelling like roses?
2. How did the Skunk’s mother react to his new smell?
3. Why was Roger Skunk’s mommy angry on finding him smell like roses? What did she do?
4. Why did the ‘mommy’ go to the Wizard and with what result?
5. Why did skunk’s mother hit the wizard?
6. Do you think that the wizard deserved the beating? Was he right in changing the smell?
7. How did the skunk’s mother get his old smell back? Was she insensitive towards her son?
8. How did the mommy justify for retaining the original smell?
9. What is the role-played by Roger Skunk’s mommy in the story. “Should Wizard Hit Mommy?”
10. Why did Roger Skunk not react to his mother’s demand?
Jo’s Reaction - Jo Is Not Convinced
It comes as a rude shock to Jack to discover that though Jo is exhibiting the desired response to each fragment of the story, the response is insincere and even reminds him of his wife pretending pleasure at a cocktail party. As the story that Jack is narrating comes to an end, he notices that Jo is expecting it to end this way and this annoys him for some inexplicable reason. He cannot bear it when women take things for granted. So, he decides to continue with the story giving it a twist. In his story the wizard has changed Skunk so that he smelt of roses, but mother Skunk disapproved of this and hit the wizard with her umbrella making him change Skunk back to his old stinking self.
The end of the story does not appeal to Jo who wants the wizard to hit mommy, but Jack tells her that mommy knows what is best for her child. It is evident that the story violates Jo’s sense of fairness for why should Roger Skunk not smell of roses and thus have more friends? It is also apparent that in a way Jo’s authority, for doing not adults knows best! Jack feels threatened by Jo’s attitude and when he finds that she is restless after he has come to downstairs, he uses the ultimate weapon of adult authority does she want him to slap her, he asks.
1. How was Jo affected by Jack’s story telling?
2. Why did Jo want the Wizard to hit the mommy?
3. What change did Jo want in the story?
4. Why did Jo want Roger Skunk’s mommy to be punished?
5. What do you think was Jo’s problem?
6. What is Jo’s perspective and how does it differ with Jack’s?
7. How did Jo react when her father refused to change the ending of the story?
8. Do you think Jo was right in her demands?
9. How does Jo want the story to end and why?
10. Why wasn't Jo happy with the ending of the story? How did Jo want the story to end up?
11. What is the difference between the original ending and the ending of the story Jo insists on?
12. Why did Jo not approve of Skunk’s mother scolding him for his new smell?
Jack finds his wife painting the chair downstairs. She is expecting their third child and is wearing his shirt ever her maternity dress. He notices that half the chair is still the old dirty color while the other half is the color of ivory. HE finds himself caught somewhere in an ugly middle position. This is perhaps an indication of the confusion that Jo’s questioning has caused. The idea is not only shocking but also quite unacceptable to him. The reader does get the distinct impression that Jack is not used to his authority being questioned by anyone and least of all a little child. He finds it hard to come to terms with the fact that Jo no longer accepts what he says and is not afraid to assert her opinion. The fact that she insists on
his changing the ending of the story on the following night. She also indicated that she has lost faith in adults wisdom and has a mind of her won, something that Jack cannot understand or accept.
The writer brings into focus the impatience and insensitivity that adults display in their dealing with children and the intolerance they exhibit if they feel that their authority is being questioned. HE also high lights the adult habit of imposing their opinion on children and that of discouraging any queries. So caught up are adults in the web of life that lose their sense of perception which is so sharp in children. Also, the adult viewpoint is most often colored by the intrusive hues of their various experiences in life.
1. What makes Jack feel caught in an ugly middle position?
2. Why was Jack worried about his wife Clare?
3. Was Jack right in not changing the end or in hurting his little girl?
4. Why does Jack insist that it was the Wizard that was hit and not mother?
5. How does Jack narrate the story ‘Should Wizard Hit Mommy?’
6. How did Jack enact the part of the wizard?
7. How does Jack try to make his story lively and real?
Important Questions for NCERT Class 12 English Should Wizard Hit Mommy
Short Answer Questions :
Question. The Skunk accepts Mom's order like a tame lamb and follows her to the wizard without demur, but Jo chooses to differ from her father with regard to changing the rose smell. How would you account for this difference in attitude between the two?
Answer : Roger Skunk as a character symbolizes Jack's own personality as a child. He loved and obeyed his mother very much. She in turn taught him courage and self-regard in dealing with his hurt and humiliation on account of his psoriasis and stammering. Thus, Skunk is as unquestioningly obedient as Jack himself was. Jo on the other hand is a happy-go-lucky child of four who has no upset and humiliation to deal with. She is naturally inquisitive and is curious to know more and more. It is not surprising that she is full of questions. The attitudes of both Skunk and Jo are shaped by their life experience.
Question. How did the Skunk’s mother get him his old smell back?
Answer : The mother was furious to learn about the wizard who changed the original smell. She immediately visited the wizard and hit him on his head and asked him to restore the original smell.
Question. Describe the wizard’s room.
Answer : The wizard’s room is a white house over the crick. Inside it are all magic things. All jumbled together in a big dusty heap as the wizard did not have any cleaning lady.
Question. Why did Jo not approve of Skunk's mother scolding him for his new smell?
Answer : Jo was very happy to hear that Skunk had got rid of his awful smell and had been accepted by the woodland creatures. She did not like Skunk's mother scolding him for his new smell because Jo thought it was a pleasant smell and the one that had won Skunk so many friends. Skunk's mother, she thought, was wrong in scolding him for his new smell.
Question. How did Roger Skunk’s Mommy react when he went home smelling of roses?
Answer : Roger Skunk began to smell like roses. Mommy asked about the smell. Roger Skunk replied that the wizard had made him smell like roses. The mother thought that he had lost his identity and asked Roger to go with her to meet the wizard.
Question. What does Jack actually want Jo to know and understand in the story?
Answer : Jack actually wants Jo to know and understand that parents always love their children as they are. Smelling good or bad is immaterial against the natural biological bond. But this thing is Jo’s beyond understanding. She understands what she sees around; but not beyond that.
Question. How does Jo want the story to end? Why? What light does it throw on Jo’s character?
Answer : Jo wanted the story to end with Roger being accepted by the other animals. In Jack’s version, the wizard was hit by mommy. Jo did not relish this. The wizard was the person who fulfilled everyone’s wishes. He had rid Roger Skunk of the bad odor. So she wanted her father to end the story with Roger skunk having a new and pleasant smell and wizard spanking the stupid ‘mommy’. Jo would get totally involved in the story. She even shed a tear or so, when woodland creatures spurned Roger. She could not bear injustice to the wizard by ‘mommy’ skunk. She wanted the end of the story to change in which the benevolent Wizard hits mommy for being inconsiderate to Roger’s need for acceptance by friends. She was independent in her thinking. Jo remains unconvinced by the father’s argument that mothers are always right.
Question. Who is Jo? How has she changed in the past two years? How did Jo behave in ‘reality phase’?
Answer : Jo is Jack’s four year old daughter. She was no longer a patient listener. She did not take things for granted and tried to see things in her own way.
Question. How did Jo react to Jack’s story line?
Answer : Jo did not agree with Jack’s version of the story in which Roger Skunk’s mommy hit that wizard right over his head for changing Roger Skunk’s smell. Instead she wanted the wizard hit Skunk’s mommy and did not change that little Skunk’s smell back.
Question. How did Roger Skunk’s mommy react when he smelling ‘roses’ went home?
Answer : When Roger Skunk smelling ‘roses’ reached home his mommy asked what was that awful smell. Roger Skunk replied that the wizard had made him smell like that. She got angry and with Roger went to the wizard and hit his head with an umbrella.
Question. What do you learn about Jo’s new reality phase?
Answer : Earlier Jo used to accept her father’s word about magic etc. now she had started asking if magic spells were real. She had become curious since a month. She was growing up and wished to check the reality of all that was told to her.
Question. Do you think Jack and Jo could identify with Roger skunk as a victim of the hatred of other creatures?
Answer : Jack brought the story to life when he narrated the tale remembering certain humiliations of his own childhood. The corners of Jo’s mouth drooped down and her lower lip bent forward. A tear flowed along the side of the nose. This shows that even Jo could identify with Roger skunk.
Question. Do you think the father in the story is, more or less, an alter ego of the author, as far as the childhood is concerned?
Answer : John Updike's childhood was tortured by 'psoriasis' and stammering and he had to suffer humiliation and ridicule at the hands of his classmates on account of this. Like him, Jo's father too recalls certain moments of 'humiliation of his own childhood. ''Thus the father more or less, was an alter ego of the author.''
Question. Which two opposite forces acted on Jack while he was telling Jo the story?
Answer : Jack was telling Jo something she must know and had no wish to hurry on. On the other hand he heard a chair scrapping. He realized that he must help his pregnant wife Clare to paint the wood work down stairs. These were the opposite forces acting on Jack while he was telling Jo the story.
Question. Why in your opinion is the smell of roses obnoxious for the Skunk mother or How did Skunk's mother react to his new smell?
Answer : Nature keeps its own balance and has its own way. The Skunk's smell is obnoxious for other creatures, but certainly not for other Skunks. Skunks are born with this particular smell and any deviation is violation of Nature. So the mother Skunk does not like the rose smell of Roger Skunk. She believes that what is natural is not disgraceful.
Question. How was Jo affected by Jack's story telling?
Answer : Jo would be immensely engrossed in the story. She liked the way her father used to tell story particularly his dramatization of it, through gestures and changing voices. She also liked the predictable way the story would unfold for it allowed her to make guesses, draw conclusions and ask questions. The whole world of the story would come alive before her and she would twitch and turn in excitement as the story progressed.
Question. Why does the wizard instruct the Skunk to "Hurry up"?
Answer : The wizard asks Skunk to hurry up because he is used to living alone and does not like company for a long time and secondly he was keen to have his full payment for the task performed. Another reason can be that he could not stand Skunk's smell for long
Question. What is the ugly middle position where jack finds himself trapped?
Answer : The ugly middle position refers to jack’s helplessness and dilemma. Its ugly because jack is not used to the women questioning his authority and Jo’ constant interruptions, clarifications, pointing out mistakes , disagreements, questioning the end of the story and suggesting an alternate end makes jack uncomfortable. It is a middle position because jack is as if coerced by the tradition (recalls his own mother) and society to inculcate certain moral lessons in Jo but at the same time he is at loss. He is unable to satisfy Jo’s lingering anxiety as he fails to understand her perspective (her fear of abandonment), as a result he finds himself trapped in a cage along with his wife which brings him no solace.
Question. Why an adult’s perspective of life is different from that of a child’s as given in the story?
Answer : An adult’s perspective on life is always different; maturity of a person becomes his parameter to judge right and wrong. For him/her everything that occurs has a message. In the story, Jack at no level accepts Jo’s worldview that wizard should hit Mommy. On the other hand , a child’s perceptive is limited , loves ‘action’ more than thought .Jo would delight in hearing the story of Roger Skunk’s Mommy being hit by the wizard, wanted a happy ending to the story.
Question. Father has felt empty after two years of storytelling to Jo. What idea do you form about his skill in the art of storytelling?
Answer : It would be wrong to say that Jo's father is a bad story teller. In fact, with all his histrionics, sound effects and gestures, he is quite effective in the art. His only problem is that his stories lack variety and he ends up telling the same old story again and again with slight variation here and there. He feels empty because he has been telling stories for over two years now and has quite naturally run short of ideas.
Question. What is the underlying idea behind the wizard's taking the beating and tamely changing the rose smell?
Answer : By making the wizard take his beating by Skunk's mother quietly, Jack and through him the author wishes to bring home the idea that mothers are always right and that we should accept what is natural. The wizard also sees the point and tamely changes Skunk's rose smell into his original Skunk smell.
Question. What was usually the basic story line of the tale that Jack told Jo almost daily?
Answer : The stories that Jack used to tell Joe were the slight variation of the basic tale about a small creature usually named Roger. Roger would go to the wise owl whenever in trouble. The wise owl would ask him to go to the wizard who would finally solve Roger’s problem.
Question. How did the wizard help Roger Skunk?
Answer : The wizard was moved by Roger Skunk’s story. On finding his magic wand, he chanted some magic words and granted that Roger should smell like roses.
Question. This was a new phase, just this last month. 'What new phase is referred to here in the story "Should Wizard Hit Mommy"?
Answer : Children's physical and mental growth is very speedy. Earlier Jo used to accept father's word about magic etc. but now she has started having apprehensions about such spells. She has become more inquisitive and less credulous.
Question. After the Skunk started smelling of roses Jo "thought the story was all over." Why did she think so?
Answer : Viewed from a child's angle, Skunk's smelling of roses is a befitting ending for the story, because first, Skunk's long standing desire has been fulfilled and secondly he is able to do what is dearest to his heart-play with other woodland creatures.
Question. Why did Jo not approve of skunk’s mother scolding him for his new smell?
Answer : Jo was very happy that skunk smelt like roses. He was accepted by the woodland creatures and was happy. Jo did not approve of skunk’s mother scolding him for something that made him acceptable among his friends and brought him happiness.
Question. How does Jo want the story to end and why?
Answer : Jo understood Roger Skunk’s need to enjoy the company of his friends; therefore wanted that the wizard should take Roger’s side.
Long Answer Questions :
Question. Why is an adult's perspective on life different from that of a child’s?
Answer : As the child grows into maturity his perspective and vision of life change gradually. A child views things at superficial and sensory level but a grown up's vision is realistic, reflective, philosophical and even psychological. Jo, a child of four, like most children of her age, prefers to live in dreams and fantasies. She is hostile by nature and would like to wreak vengeance on Skunk's mother and wants the wizard to retaliate.
She is annoyed because the father refuses to accept her suggestion. The father has a mature perspective and sees beyond the surface and explores the philosophical and moralistic aspect of the entire situation. The wizard had unwittingly interfered with nature and had thus done a great deal of harm and deserved to be punished. According to him the punishment meted out to the wizard is well merited and retaliation is out of the question.
Thus the story makes it clear that the perspective of a child and that of an adult is totally different.
Question. What is the moral issue that the story raises?
Answer : The story shows the conflict between two generations. It tells us about the belief, of the older generation, in customs and traditions and constantly questioning attitude of the younger generation, hence contributing to a generation gap. Not understanding her son’s pain of loneliness and dejection, mother Skunk gets his smell changed to his original foul smell and loves him the way he is, raising the moral issue of whether parents should always decide what the children should do or let the children do what they like to do. There is an evident contrast between an adult’s perspective on life and the world view of a little child. Jo wants the wizard to hit Mommy and not vice-versa because she represents the new generation and does not agree with her father’s view. Jack sums up the issue in one sentence- ‘She knew what was right’. Jack also says that the little Skunk agreed to the mother’s proposal because he loved his mother more than the other animals. Little Jo feels that the Skunk’s mother should not have robbed her little son of the pleasure he derived when playing with the other animals when he smelled of roses. She insists that the wizard hit the Mommy on the head and calls little Skunk’s mother a ‘Stupid Mommy’. Keeping to her view point, she insisted that her father should tell her the story the next day in a different manner. So we see that the story deals with moral issues dependent on the different levels of maturity of
Jack and Jo.
Question. Why does Jack insist that it was the wizard that was hit and not the mother?
Answer : Jack firmly believes that mothers can’t err and deserve unchallenged and unconditioned obedience for they know what is right for their children. Wizards can be hit but never the mothers; hence; his insistence that the wizard was hit. Moreover, mother was justified in her belief that what is natural is not disgraceful and one should never give up one’s individuality. Another reason was that Jack, while narrating the story, unknowingly got emotionally connected with the character of the protagonist and his mother. He pictured his own mother in place of Roger Skunk’s mother and thus could not imagine his own mother being hit by anyone. Jo also understood that his father was defending his own mother.
Question. What is the moral issue that the story raises?
Answer : Although "Should Wizard Hit Mommy?" reads like a typical bed time story elders tell little children, it does raise a moral question -Should parents always decide what is best for their children and should children always obey their parents unquestioningly ?
Roger Skunk is a very obedient child but he, feels very sad and upset because he smells so awful that nobody wants to befriend him and play with him. One day he gets a change to get his bad smell replaced with the smell of roses. He feels excited about the change for everyone likes his new smell and readily agrees to play with him. However Roger's mother does not like the change. For her, Roger was better off with his original smell. So, she makes the wizard restore Skunk's original smell. Roger meekly accepts his mother's decision and other children get used to Roger's awful smell and don’t complain about in any more.
But the narrow world view of the little girl, Jo likes to spell out the slogan of equality for all. She believes in the axiom "Tit for Tat". She feels that mother is wrong in getting her son's original smell back and wants her to be spanked by the wizard for her mistake. Her father, who has modeled Skunk's story on his own story, strongly defends the mother Skunk's decision.
Thus, the author through this story raises a moral question of how much authority parents should exercise in teaching their children what is wrong, what is right, what they should do and what not. Since, there is no single correct answer to the question; he leaves it for the readers to answer it on the basis of their beliefs, cultures and values.
Question. What makes Jack feel caught in an ugly middle position?
Answer : Jack is a loving father and a caring husband. The day the story happens; Jack is supposed to help his wife paint the household furniture. However, he cannot do so because; he has to tell his daughter a story before the Saturday nap.
He thinks that he will finish the story quickly and then go downstairs to help his wife Clare paint. Unfortunately for him that is not to be. The story takes a rather long time, for his daughter who is now four, interrupts it on several occasions and asks him several questions and even corrects him a couple of times. Moreover, she does not like the ending of the story – she wants her father to end the story in a way that the wizard spanks the mother on her head for wanting to change her son’s smell back to the awful one. Although Jack does not like the ending and would rather stick to the original ending, he knows that Jo will have her way the next day and make him introduce the ending suggested by her. Although the story Jack has been worrying about his wife Clare who is six months pregnant and who is busy painting downstairs and desperately needs him .Jack is thus face to face with an ‘ugly middle
position ‘where he fails on all fronts and is neither able to make his four year old daughter sleep nor is able to help his wife in painting. Clare, who has finished quite a lot of work, complains that he has taken too long to tell the story. Jack suddenly experiences a mood swing. Tired, bored and dejected, he feels like doing nothing. He feels trapped in a rut of life along with his wife .He has no desire to speak to her, work with her or touch her. Perhaps, Jo’s innocent question has opened up his childhood wounds of hurt and humiliation.
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