Chapter 6: Beginner’s Mind

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. What game did Anna and her brother play as children?
  2. While walking in the woods in Stockholm, what did Anna see which surprised her?
  3. What did Anna enjoy eating as she sat outside the supermarket?
  4. Which son reminded Anna of Kevin, and why?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. This chapter is about experiencing a childhood place in a new way. What are some examples? Have you ever experienced anything similar?
  2. In the scene where Anna is washing the dishes, her stepson’s voice acts as a trigger for her grief. Is she grieving Kevin’s death, or is it something else?
  3. In the last scene, Anna finds out the children are having money problems, and she says, “This is not what I had expected at all. Not in Sweden.” Are you surprised at what Anna experiences in this chapter? Do her experiences reflect your understanding of Swedish culture and society?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • The game Anna and her brother play, Cowboys and Indians, reflects an old-fashioned view of race relations in America. How do you think views of race and identity have changed (in the United States or your home country) in the last 50 years?
  • Anna’s reaction to seeing a girlfriend in Fionn’s room is to retreat and “talk to God,” even though it’s clear she doesn’t really believe it’s God talking back. Can you relate to this type of inner dialogue? How do inner conversations work for you in stressful situations?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

getting a head start on summer.” = doing it early or starting enthusiastically (p. 50)

ushered us out = gently guided us in a direction, like an usher (p. 51)

This Land is Your Land… etc. = These are famous American songs (p. 51)

“an ingrained practice” = a strong habit; something done so often that it’s automatic (p. 55)

“greedily chowed down” = ate (p. 57)

glued to screens” = not moving from; attached to (p. 61)

Grammar Focus:

Special Markers in Storytelling

When you write a story, there are some markers which can help your reader understand.

  1. Quotation Marks

These show you the dialog. Generally, when there is a new line, there’s a new speaker. (When writing, remember to put the ending period before the quotation mark.)

“So how do you all live?”

“My student loans.”

“But that’s only $350 a month.”

“Exactly.”

NOTE: When writing dialog, you do not have to worry about writing complete sentences. You should write exactly what the person said.

2. Italics

Use italics to mark words which are in a foreign language — in this case, not English:

… “He’s helping with the dödsbo…” (p. 63)

Also use italics for titles of books, movies, or songs:

It was This Land is Your Land and America the Beautiful and Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie. (p. 51)

NOTE: Remember, with titles, to also capitalize them correctly.

Answers to Part 1

  1. They played Cowboys and Indians.
  2. She saw three women dressed in black veils and a six-story apartment building behind some trees.
  3. a dairy free, lactose free ice cream cone
  4. Sean. His voice and way of speaking were very similar to his father’s.

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