Study Questions for The Waves

Heather Cross, Charlotte Teague, and Tama Carstensen
The Waves Group Presentation

Created November 1, 2000

1. Woolf's first title for the novel was The Moths. Why do you think she changed it to The Waves?

2. The chapters are divided by Interludes, italicized sections relating to the time of day. Think about emotional and physical energy at different times of day. How does the significance of time shape the novel? Also consider the Episodes (the plot and characters) and the overall rhythm of the novel (one, two, one, two).

3. Pay attention to the choice of tenses throughout the book. What does Woolf convey with these choices?

4. Percival comes into the picture in the second chapter. What makes him the stabilizing influence in the others' lives?

5. Several critics noted that The Waves is about one person, but is shown through six different people (some suggest that this person is Woolf). Do you agree? If so, how do the characters represent one; how do they represent Woolf; how do they differ? For example:
·       Discuss Jinny's fascination with and Woolf's rejection of the mirror.
·       After Percival died, Rhoda felt liberated. However, his death caused her to gradually slip away from reality to the point of suicide. What are your thoughts on Rhoda's conflicting feelings? How does Percival and Rhoda's relationship compare to Thoby and Virginia's relationship?

6. Pay attention to the senses that are invoked, noticed, and ignored at various times and by various characters. How does this influence your impression of the character, the setting, the time of day?

7. How is The Waves an extension of the other novels that we've read in class?
·      Do the characters in The Waves attain the androgynous mind that Woolf wishes for in A Room of One's Own? 
·       Does Rachel (in A Voyage Out) remind you of any Waves characters? Why or why not? Compare Jinny and Mrs. Dalloway.

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