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Aufgaben

## Comprehension

$\blacktriangleright\;$ Topic:
Henry Roth: A curious meeting
$\blacktriangleright\;$ Task:
• Finish the tasks below the text.
$\;$
Material
Henry Roth: A curious meeting
In this excerpt from the novel “Call It Sleep”, a family of three has just been reunited at Ellis Island immigration station: Albert, the father, his wife Genya and their young son David. The year is 1907.
The most volatile races, such as the Italians, often danced for joy, whirled each other around, pirouetted in an ecstasy: Swedes sometimes just looked at each other, breathing through open mouths like a panting dog; Jews wept, jabbered, almost put each other’s eyes out with the recklessness of their darting gestures; Poles roared and gripped each other at arm’s length as though they meant to tear a handful of flesh; and
5
after one pecking kiss, the English might be seen gravitating toward, but never achieving an embrace.
But these two stood silent, apart; the man staring with aloof, offended eyes grimly down at the water—or if he turned his face toward his wife at all, it was only to glare in harsh contempt at the blue straw hat worn by the child in her arms, and then his hostile eyes would sweep about the deck to see if anyone else were observing them. And his wife beside him regarding him uneasily, appealingly. And the child against her
10
breast looking from one to the other with watchful, frightened eyes. Altogether it was a very curious meeting.
They had been standing in this strange and silent manner for several minutes, when the woman, as if driven by the strain into action, tried to smile, and touching her husband’s arm said timidly, “And this is the Golden Land.” She spoke in Yiddish.
15
She took a breath as if taking courage, and tremulously, “I’m sorry, Albert, I was so stupid.” She paused waiting for some flicker of unbending, some word, which never came. “But you look so lean, Albert, so haggard. And your mustache—you’ve shaved.”
His brusque glance stabbed and withdrew. “Even so.”
20
“You must have suffered in this land.” She continued gentle despite his rebuke. “You never wrote me. You’re thin. Ach! Then here in the new land is the same old poverty. You’ve gone without food. I can see it. You’ve changed.”
“Well that don’t matter,” he snapped, ignoring her sympathy. “It’s no excuse for your not recognizing me. Who else would call for you? Do you know anyone else in this land?”
25
“No,” placatingly. “But I was so frightened, Albert. Listen to me. I was so bewildered, and that long waiting there in that vast room since morning. Oh, that horrible waiting! I saw them all go, one after the other. The shoemaker and his wife. The coppersmith and his children from Strij[1]. All those on the Kaiserin Viktoria. But I—I remained. To-morrow will be Sunday. They told me no one could come to fetch me. What if they sent me back? I was frantic!”
30
“Are you blaming me?” His voice was dangerous.
“No! No! Of course not Albert! I was just explaining.”
“Well then let me explain,” he said curtly. “I did what I could. I took the day off from the shop. I called that cursed Hamburg-American Line four times. And each time they told me you weren’t on board.”
“They didn’t have any more third-class passage, so I had to take the steerage[2]—”
35
“Yes, now I know. That’s all very well. That couldn’t be helped. I came here anyway. The last boat. And what do you do? You refused to recognize me. You don’t know me.” He dropped his elbows down on the rail, averted his angry face. “That’s the greeting I get.”
“I’m sorry, Albert,” she stroked his arm humbly. “I’m sorry.”
“And as if those blue-coated mongrels in there weren’t mocking me enough, you give them that brat’s right
40
age. Didn’t I write you to say seventeen months because it would save the half fare! Didn’t you hear me inside when I told them?”
“How could I, Albert?” she protested. “How could I? You were on the other side of that—that cage.”
[…] “I didn’t know what to do.” She picked despairingly at the wire grill beneath the rail. “In Hamburg the doctor laughed at me when I said seventeen months. He’s so big. He was big when he was born.” She
45
smiled, the worried look on her face vanishing momentarily as she stroked her son’s cheek. “Won’t you speak to your father, David, beloved?”
The child merely ducked his head behind his mother.
His father stared at him, shifted his gaze and glared down at the officials, and then, as though perplexity had crossed his mind he frowned absently. “How old did he say he was?”
50
“The doctor? Over two years—and as I say he laughed.”
“Well what did he enter?”
“Seventeen months — I told you.”
[…] “Hmm! Well, put him down.” His head jerked brusquely toward the child. “You don’t need to carry him all the way. He’s big enough to stand on his own feet.”
55
She hesitated, and then reluctantly set the child down on the deck. Scared, unsteady, the little one edged over to the side opposite his father, and hidden by his mother, clung to her skirt.
“Well, it’s all over now.” She attempted to be cheerful. “It’s all behind us now, isn’t it, Albert? Whatever mistakes I made don’t really matter any more. Do they?”
“A fine taste of what lies before me!” He turned his back on her and leaned morosely against the rail. “A fine
60
taste!”
They were silent. […] before them, rising on her high pedestal from the scaling swarmy brilliance of sunlit water[3] to the west, Liberty. The spinning disk of the late afternoon sun slanted behind her, and to those on board who gazed, her features were charred with shadow, her depths exhausted, her masses ironed to one single plane. Against the luminous sky the rays of her halo were spikes of darkness roweling[4] the air;
65
shadow flattened the torch she bore to a black cross against flawless light—the blackened hilt of a broken sword. Liberty. (976 words)
Aus: Henry Roth: Call It Sleep, Penguin Books, London. First published in 1934. Pp. 11 - 14.

[1] Strij: town in what today is the Ukraine
[2] steerage: cheapest passage on a ship
[3] scaling swarmy brilliance of sunlit water: poetic description of the water‘s surface
[4] roweling: poking
Instructions:
• Tick the correct statement or statements as indicated.
• Give a quote from the text to support each correct statement:
the line number(s) plus the first three and the last three words of the quote.
• If the quote is less than six words, write down the full quote.
Instructions:
• Tick the correct statement or statements as indicated.
• Give a quote from the text to support each correct statement:
the line number(s) plus the first three and the last three words of the quote.
• If the quote is less than six words, write down the full quote.
0
Example: Tick the correct statement.
The diversity of immigrants is shown at their arrival:
 The Poles are described as being shy. The Swedes are described as being boisterous. The English are described as being passionate. The Italians are described as being enthusiastic. The Italians are described as being enthusiastic.
• line(s): 1-2 $\qquad$ the Italians, often … in an ecstasy
1
Tick the correct statement. Give TWO quotes.
The initial encounter between the husband and his wife in the second paragraph is characterized by
 mutual disrespect. conflicting emotions. concern about their son. lack of interest in each other.
• quote for husband:
line(s):

• quote for wife:
line(s):
2
Tick the correct statement.
When the wife says „And this is the Golden Land,“
 she feels compelled to break the ice. she is trying to reassure her husband. she shows that she speaks some English. she expresses her optimism about America.
• line(s):
3
Tick the correct statement.
When the conversation continues,
 the wife is a lot more self-confident. the husband tries to contain his abruptness. the wife blames him for being undernourished. the husband is irresponsive to her compassion.
• line(s):
4
Tick the TWO correct statements.
Before reuniting with her husband she was worried
 the authorities might turn her away. she would get lost in the large building. the immigration officials might misinform her. her husband would not be able to pick her up. she would lose contact with the other passangers.
• quote for 1st correct statement:
line(s):

• quote for 2nd correct statement:
line(s):
5
Tick the correct statements. Give TWO quotes.
The husband is angry because
 his wife was detained and the officials didn‘t tell him . he was misinformed and his wife failed to identify him . he skipped work and is afraid of losing some of his pay . he was left in uncertainty and therefore complained at the agency.
• quote for 1st half of the statement:
line(s):

• quote for 2nd half of the statement:
line(s):
6
Tick the correct statement.
The couple talks about their son because
 he has refused to talk to his father. the men in blue have intimidated him. the doctor refused to document the wrong age. the husband suspects that the trip was too costly.
• line(s):
7
Tick the correct expression. Give TWO quotes.
Husband and wife are both their future together.
• quote for husband:
line(s):

• quote for wife:
line(s):
8
Match each utterance with the most appropriate adjective from the list.
Describe the speaker‘s attitude in each situation. Use an adjective only once. There are two more than needed.
UtteranceSpeaker‘s Attitude
I can see it. (l. 21f) $\qquad \qquad \qquad \qquad \qquad \qquad \qquad \qquad \qquad$
I was just explaining. (l. 31)
Well then let me explain. (l. 32)
That‘s the greeting I get. (l. 37)
• ignorant
• reconciling
• reproachful
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## Comprehension

$\blacktriangleright\;$ Topic:
Henry Roth: A curious meeting
$\blacktriangleright\;$ Task:
1
The initial encounter between the husband and his wife in the second paragraph is characterized by
 mutual disrespect. conflicting emotions. concern about their son. lack of interest in each other.
• quote for husband:
line(s): 6-8 $\rightarrow$ the man staring … in her arms

• quote for wife:
line(s): 9 $\rightarrow$ his wife beside … him uneasily, appealingly.
2
When the wife says „And this is the Golden Land,“
 she feels compelled to break the ice. she is trying to reassure her husband. she shows that she speaks some English. she expresses her optimism about America.
• line(s): 12-13 $\rightarrow$ the woman, as … her husband‘s arm
3
When the conversation continues,
 the wife is a lot more self-confident. the husband tries to contain his abruptness. the wife blames him for being undernourished. the husband is irresponsive to her compassion.
• line(s): 16-17 $\rightarrow$ She paused waiting … which never came.
4
Before reuniting with her husband she was worried
 the authorities might turn her away. she would get lost in the large building. the immigration officials might misinform her. her husband would not be able to pick her up. she would lose contact with the other passangers.
• quote for 1st correct statement:
line(s): 29 $\rightarrow$ What if they … I was frantic!

• quote for 2nd correct statement:
line(s): 28-29 $\rightarrow$ They told me … to fetch me.
5
The husband is angry because
 his wife was detained and the officials didn‘t tell him . he was misinformed and his wife failed to identify him . he skipped work and is afraid of losing some of his pay . he was left in uncertainty and therefore complained at the agency.
• quote for 1st half of the statement:
line(s): 32-33 $\rightarrow$ I called that … weren‘t on board.

• quote for 2nd half of the statement:
line(s): 23 $\rightarrow$ It’s no excuse … not recognizing me.
6
The couple talks about their son because
 he has refused to talk to his father. the men in blue have intimidated him. the doctor refused to document the wrong age. the husband suspects that the trip was too costly.
• line(s): 40 $\rightarrow$ Didn‘t I write … the half fare!
7
Husband and wife are both their future together.
• quote for husband:
line(s): 59 $\rightarrow$ „A fine taste … A fine taste!“

• quote for wife:
line(s): 57-58 $\rightarrow$ She attempted to … anymore. Do they?“
8
UtteranceSpeaker‘s Attitude
I can see it. (l. 21f) empathetic
I was just explaining. (l. 31)reconciling
Well then let me explain. (l. 32) bossy
That‘s the greeting I get. (l. 37) reproachful
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