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SET 1

1. Read the extract from the short story Tanjong Rhu. Then answer the
questions.

Edward, she said, crossing her legs, come and join us?
He refused, and was just turning away, when she noticed the binoculars he
was holding,
And asked what they were.
Oh, these, he said. I bought theme today. For the children. He could not
think of anything better to say. (p.20)

a) Who does the pronoun us refer to?

b) Why do you think Edward or Mr Li refuses to join them?

c) In your opinion, why didnt Edward tell the truth about the binoculars he
bought for his mother?

d) What does this incident reveal about the relationship of these two
characters?

2. Writing Task
a)

HOTS

If you could change one part of the story, which would you change?
Give reasons for your decision.

b)

Describe a character in the short story Tanjong Rhu who displays an


admirable quality.

SET 2
1. Read the extract from the short story Tanjong Rhu. Then answer the
questions.

There was one drawer which would not open. The joss sticks, he thought,
must be in there, with all the things that were most important to her. He
pulled again at that drawer, harder this time, but it stayed shut. And then
he realized that she always kept it locked. And he did not know where she
hid the key. (p.35)
a) Where is Mr Li?

b) Why is he looking for joss sticks?

c) What does the locked drawer symbolise?

HOTS

d) If you were Mr Li, what would you do in this situation?

HOTS

2. WRITING TASK

HOTS

a) What is the most important lesson you can learn from the short story
Tanjong Rhu?

b) Based on the lesson you have learnt, what changes would you make in
your life?

ANSWER KEY FOR SET 1


Question1
a) Mr Li/ Edwards wife and her friends.
b) He dislikes these kind of womens social gatherings.

c) He could be embarrassed to admit how much he cared for his old mother./ He did
not think his wife would understand why he bought the binoculars for his mother.
d) Mr Li and his wifes relationship is not very good.

Question 2
a. (Suggested answer)
The part of the story I would change is the scene at the hospital. Mr Li would ask his
mother the question about his childhood and she would be able to answer him. After
that, she would tell him where she hid the key to the drawer. I think that this would
give the story a more hopeful ending. Mr Li would not have to live with so many
regrets. He would be able to revisit his memories of his happy and carefree
childhood. If he could be honest about his background and who really is, he would
be a happier man.
If he had the key to the drawer, he would be able to continue the traditional
practice of ancestral worship. This, too, would free him of guilt because he would be
able to do what he knows his mother would want him to do. Changing this part of
the story would lead to a happier ending.
b. Ah-Ma is a person who is honest about her humble background and enjoys the
simple life. She is a mother of nine children, grandmother of thirty-four and greatgrandmother of seventeen. Her children, like Mr Li, her eldest son, are grown-up,
independent and successful. She has every reason to be proud and to enjoy the
success of her children. Yet, she prefers to rear a few chickens in her sons garden,
and ten to the family altar. She shuns material gifts. Her happiness is based on her
memories of the carefree days in a hut on the beach when her husband was still
alive. Her character is admirable.

ANSWER KEY FOR SET 2


Question1
a) In the family altar room.
b) He wants to burn some joss sticks for his ancestors like his mother used to do.

c) The locked drawer symbolizes the traditional values that Ah-Ma upheld and which
her son does not understand.
d)(suggested answer) I would call a locksmith to open the drawer for me.

Question 2
a. The most important lesson I can learn from the short story Tanjong Rhu is respect
for elders. The main character, Mr T.W.Li, is a successful businessman who has little
time and patience for the old ways of his culture. Yet, he is a filial son who respects
his mother and tries his best to please her. He buys a pair of binoculars for his
mother so that she would be able to see more clearly. He respects her wish to have
a family altar. He teaches his daughter Ying to treat her grandmother with greater
respect. I think this value is important in our culture.
b. I would be more conscious of how I treat the elders in my family. I would remind
myself to be more patient when I do not see eye to eye with an elder and I would
speak respectfully to them at all times.

SET 3

Refer to the extract from the short story Tanjong Rhu of your anthology Leaving
No Footprint and answer the questions that follow.
But mother, that was pulled down thirty years ago!
You said those see-far glasses could see far away, Ah Wah, she said.
Oh! Mother, he sighed You dont understand.
It was beginning to get dark. Its all right, I dont need those glasses of yours,
she said. I can see Tanjong Rhu just fine. Behind my eyes, thats how I can still
see it.
Page 23
Questions 1-2
1. What was it that had been pulled down thirty years ago?

2. Do you think Mr. Lis mother understood the use of binoculars? Why do you
say so?

Questions 3-4

Sorry, this is going to take a long time!


3. Who said these words and to whom were they spoken?

4. Explain the situation that brought this up.

5. Based on the short story, Tanjong Rhu, write one of the social issues portrayed in
the story.

ANSWER KEY FOR SET 3


1. It was his fathers shipyard.
2. No, I dont think so. She was told the binoculars could be used to see very
faraway places and in her mind it meant that things that can be seen in
the distance even if they do not exist anymore.
3. They were spoken by Ying and she was speaking to Mr. Li.

4. Mr. Li was waiting for Ah Ma to take her to the office and Ying was trying to
make Ah Ma cut short her praying session by taking over from her. But Ah
Ma would not hear of it. She refused to be hurried.
5. one of the social issues is generation gap : the young and the old
approach certain issues in life differently
- Between Mr Li and his mother, between mother and granddaughter
- Mr Li adopts modern ideas and ways.
- His mother is conservative and holds on to her beliefs and custom
strongly

A. Differentiate the character traits of the characters in the short


story, Tanjong Rhu.
Complete the table below:
Mr T.W.Li
1
2

Ah Ma (Mr Lis Mother)

3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Suggested answers:
Mr T.W.Li
Successful businessman

Ah Ma (Mr Lis Mother)


Traditional thinking

Happy family life

Strong religious beliefs

Close relationship with the


mother

Meticulous

Modern in his ways and ideas

Strong determination

Tolerant

Good memory

Meticulous

Old fashioned

Patient

Proud of her son success

Filial

Refuse to accept changes

Strict

Proud and refuse to admit illhealth

Respectful

Loving

B. Based on the character traits below give evidence from the


text.
Mr T.W. Li
1

Tolerant

Filial son

Patient

Meticulous

Evidence

Strict

Respectful

Ah Ma (Mr Lis Mother)


1

Traditional

Good Memory

Evidence

3
Old fashioned
4
Strong determination
5
Refuse to accept changes
6
Proud

Suggested answers
Mr T.W. Li

Evidence

Tolerant

Does not interfere with his mothers way

Filial son

Made sure funeral of mother is done in


the right way

Patient

Meticulous

Waits for mother to finish prayers


although he had to leave for the office.
Keep track of number of ships every day
by counting

Strict

Respectful

Does not entertain disrespects from the


young
Talk softly to the mother although
disagree with her ways.

Ah Ma (Mr Lis Mother)


1

Traditional

Good Memory

3
Old fashioned
4

Values Chinese tradition of ancestor


worship
Can recall the childhood of Mr Li well.
Does not believe in having eye
operation
Refuses to allow Ying to do the praying

Strong determination
5

Clings to the past


Refuse to accept changes

Refuse to admit ill health


Proud

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