Chapter 4: Back to the Present

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. What was Anna’s family background?
  2. While growing up, how did Anna learn about Swedish culture?
  3. Why was Anna and Michael’s visit to the Swedish Consulate ironic?
  4. Which object in the bedroom reminded Anna of Kevin?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. How did Anna’s life change when she moved to America? Do you think this is typical of a child immigrant’s experience?
  2. How can learning a culture through one’s parents and learning it through direct experience lead to different types of understanding? What are some cultural things one must learn directly?
  3. When Anna holds Kevin’s t-shirt, she says, “This is what contentment smelled like. This is what giddy excitement over finding love again after thirteen years felt like.” Discuss the smells, sounds, and physical objects which remind you of your past.
  4. While Anna holds the t-shirt and remembers the past, how do you think she feels? Why?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • When a person immigrates to another country, how do you think it influences the person’s identity? Does the age of immigration play a large factor? Are there other factors?
  • Sometimes, we may choose to enter situations which cause us anxiety. In your opinion, what are valid reasons for such a choice? Should anxiety be avoided at all costs?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“high school sweethearts” = a couple who fell in love while in high school (p. 28)

“at lightning speed” = extremely quickly (p.29)

“rough-and-tumble” =  a situation without rules or regulations; a disorderly fight (p. 31)

“The devil would be in the details.” = The very difficult part would be the details. (p.31)

“decked out in” = dressed in an outfit, especially a nice one; decorated

“giddy anticipation” = feeling very excited about the future

Grammar Focus:

Strong Verbs in Storytelling

When writing a story, using “strong verbs” can make the story more interesting. Strong verbs are words which contain a lot of meaning. For example, “ran,” “strolled,” or “walked” can be stronger than “went” or “did.” (Some common verbs like BE, GO and DO are usually  **not** considered strong verbs.) For language learners, this can cause some problems in reading comprehension because strong verbs are more exact. Here are some examples of “strong verbs” from the first page of this chapter, with more general words after them.

As the hours in the plane dragged on (became long), I shifted (moved) in my seat, unsettled. Watching movies was out of the question because I couldn’t concentrate. Instead, I buried (put) my head in the pillow and pretended to sleep (acted like I was sleeping) so no one would talk to me. Images of past plane rides flashed (came in pictures) before me…

Answers to Part 1

  1. Both her parents came from long-line Swedish families. Her mother’s grandparents had come up from Denmark in the 1890s.
  2. Her parents taught her.
  3. Michael qualified for Swedish citizenship even though he had never been to Sweden and didn’t speak Swedish. Anna didn’t qualify for Swedish citizenship although she was born there and could speak Swedish.
  4. his soft, brown t-shirt

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