Birthday party by Shirley Jackson

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Extensive reading UNIT 3

Unit 3

1 Discuss in pairs the questions:

aJ How do you usually celebrate your birthday?
b) What kind of parties do you have?

2 Read the first part of the story and answer the questions:


It was planned by Jannie herself. Janme even went so far as to say that if she could have a pajama party she would keep her room picked up for one solid month, a promise so far beyond the realms of Dossibility that I could only believe she wanted the pajama party more than anything else in the world. My husband thought it was a mistake. "You are making a terrible, an awful mistake," he said to me. "And don't try to say I didn't tell you so." My older son Laurie told me it was a mistake. "Mommy-O," he said, "this you will regret. For the rest of your life you will be saying to yourself 'Why did I let that dopey girt ever, ever have a pajama party that night?' for the rest of your life. When you're an old lady you will be saying....

"Five of them are too many,' my husband explained. "One would have been quite enough."

"You can't have a pajama party with just one guest," I said sullenly. "And any way no matter who she invited the other three would have been offended."

"Carole," Laurie said, as one telling over a fearful list. "Kate, Laura, Linda, Jannie, You must be crazy," he said to me.

"What can I do?" I said. "I promised."

a) Who is the narrator?
b) Who planned the Darty?
c) What did the other members of the family think of the idea? Why do you think so?
d) Who did mother support? Why?
e) Why were Laurie and father so terrified of the pajama party?
f) What is a pajama

3 What do you think?

1 Will the party be a success or a disaster? Why?
2 From the first lines of the story you already have a feeling that there is trouble ahead. How do you know?

4 Read the second part of the story and answer the questions below.

"You know of course," Laurie said to me, "I have the room next to her? I'm going to be sleeping in there like I do every night? You know I'm going to be in my bed trying to sleep?" He shuddered. "Giggle," he said, "Giggle, giggle, giggle, giggle, giggle, giggle, Two, three o'clock in the morning - giggle, giggle, giggle. A human being can't bear it."

английский язык


to shudder - to shake uncomrollably
to giggle - to laugh repeatedly and often like a child

Jannie focused her eyes on him. "Why don't we burn up this boy's birth certificate?" she asked.

"Giggle, giggle." Laurie said.

Barry spoke waving his toast When Jannie gets her birthday presents can I play with it?" he asked. "If I am very careful can I play with just the..."


Everyone began to talk at once to drown him out. "Giggle, giggle," Laurie shouted. "Don't say I didn't warn you," my husband said loudly, "Anyway I promised," I said. "Happy birthday dear sister," Sally sang. Jannie giggled.

"There," Laurie said, "you hear her? All night long - five of them." Shaking his head as one who has been telling them and telling them and telling them not to bring that wooden horse through the gates of Troy, he stamped off to get his schoolbooks and his trumpet. Jannie sighed happily. Barry opened his mouth to speak and his father and Sally and I allsaid "Shhh."

In honor of Jannie's birthday Sally helped me clear the table, and Jannie sat in state with her hands folded, waiting. When the table was cleared we left Jannie there alone. and assembled in the study. While my husband lighted the candles on the pInk and white cake, Sally and Barry took from the back of the hall closet the gifts they had chosen themselves and lovingly wrapped. Barry's gift was clearly a leathercraft set, since his most careful wrapping had been unable to make the paper go right around the box, and the name showed clearly. Sally had three books. Laurie had an album of records he had chosen himself. ("This is for my sister," he had told the clerk in the music store, most earnestly, with an Elvis Presley record in each hand, "for my sister - not me, my sister.")

By a quarter to eight Jannie was dressed in the new blouse and skirt over the petticoat, Barry was happily taking apart the leathercraft set, the record player was plugged and we had heard, more or less involuntarily, four sides of Elvis Presley. Laurie had shut himself in his room, dissociating himself utterly from the festivities. "I was willing to buy them," he explained, "I even spent good money out of my bank, but no one can make me listen."


to drown out - to make a noise which prevents someone from being heard
trumpet - Tpy6a
in state - величаво

closet (ArnE) - cupboard
leathercraft set - набор для рукоделия из кожи
clerk [kla:k] (ArnE) - shop assistent
petticoat - женская сорочка
involuntarily - made without intending to dissociate yonrself
from - самоустраняться

I took a card table up to Jannie's room and squeezed it among the beds; on it I put a pretty cloth and a bowl of apples, a small dish of candy, a plate of decorated cupcakes, and an ice bucket with five bottles of grape soda. Jannie brought her record player upstairs and put it on the table and Laurie plugged it in for her on condition that she would not turn it on until he was safely back in his room. I put a deck of fortune telling cards on the table, and a book on the meaning of dreams.

They went up the back stair like a troop of horses, saying "Cupcakes, cupcakes," Sally and Barry were in bed, but permitted to stay awake because it was Friday night and Jannie's birthday. Barry had taken Jannie's leathercraft set up to his room, planning to make his dear sister a pair of moccasins.


Sally asked if she could play her phonograph while she read fairy tales and ate her cupcake and I said certainly, since I did not think that in the general air of excitement even Barry would fall asleep for a while yet. As I started downstairs Barry called me to ask if he could play his phonograph, and of course I could hardly say no.

When I got downstairs my husband had settled down to reading freshman themes in the living room. "Everything seems..." he said; I believe he was going to finish "quiet", but Elvis Presley started then from Jannie's room. There was a howl of fury from Laurie's room, and then his phonograph started; to answer Elvis Presley he had chosen an old Louis Armstrong record. From the front of the house upstairs drifted down the opening announcement of "Peter and the Wolf", from Sally, and then, distantly, from Barry's room, the crashing chords which heralded (blast off!) "Space Men on the Moon".

"What did you say?" I asked my husband.
"Oh, when the saints come marching in... "
"I said it seemed quiet," my husband yelled,
"The cat, by a clarinet in a loooow register.,. "
"I want you, I need you... "
"Prepare for blast: five - four - three - two _"
"The golden trumpets will begin..."
"It sure does," I yelled back.
"BOOM." Barry's rocket was in space...

By Shirley Jackson

card table - карточный столик
cupcake - a small round cake baked in a cupshaped container
a deck of fortune-telling cards (ArnE) - a set of cards to leU what will happen to in the future
moccasins - simple shoes made of soft leather
phonograph (oldfashioned AmE) - record player
howl - a loud сry of pain or anger
to herald - to be a sign of something that is going to happen
blast off - the moment when the spaceship leaves the ground

1 Why didn't Laurie like the idea of the party?
2 What did each of the brothers and sisters give Jennie as a present?
3 What preparations were made by the
4 What kind of music did each of them play?
5 What were the girls going to do to celebrate the party?

5 Discuss the following statements with your partner.

· Decide whether they are true or false and give arguments for your decision.

1 Jannie wanted to burn Laurie's birth certificate.
2 Barry is the youngest in the family.
3 Laurie was fond of Elvis Presley.
4 Children in the family are friendly and thoughtful to each other.
5 Jannie invited her brothers and sister to her party.
6 All the members of the family tried to make Jannie's birthday pleasant and memorable.

6 What do you think?

1 There are words in the text which are given in italics. Find them and say why the author chose these particular words to draw readers' attention to.
2 In the first part of the story find the sentence (Laurie's words) with the incorrect word order. Explain why it is so.
3 Look through the words Laurie says, What makes him sound so emotional?
4 "Horses" are mentioned twice in the story, What does it add to it?
5 Are birthday traditions in the USA different from birthday traditions in your country?

7 Work in groups and discuss how the party might end.

· Agree on the best version and report it to the class.

8 Imagine your parents allowed you to have any birthday party you like.

. Write a description of it.
. The questions below may help you.

1 Will it be a pajama party?
2 Who will you invite?
3 What kind of presents would you like to get?
4 What preparations will be made?
5 What will you do at the party?
6 What music will you play?

O. Л. Гроза, О. Б. Дворецкая, Н. Ю. Казырбаева, В. В. Клименко, М. Л. Мичурина, Н. В. Новикова, Т. Н. Рыжкова, Е. Ю. Шалимова, Английский язык нового тысячелентия, Учебник английского языка для 10 класса общеобразовательных учреждений. — 2-е изд. — М. Титул, 2004. — 175 с, ; ил.

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