Trivia Quiz for “Family Ties” by Clarice Lispector

Trivia Quiz for Family Ties by Clarice Lispector (1960)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 6/27/21

A. Hell begins at home. In the thirteen short stories that make up Family Ties, Clarice Lispector paints some memorable portraits of human interaction; in their dark tonality and weird imagery, they make family life seem like a certain kind of hell.

1. Among the events that typically unite family members, which one is not depicted in the book?

a. meals                       b. a birthday party       c. a funeral            

d. a quiet evening at home

2. Among the sayings that are often spoken among family members, which one is absent from this book?

a. “Go to hell!”           b. “Happy birthday!”  c. “I love you.”           

d. “It’s not my fault!”

3. Certain words recur in the prose of Clarice Lispector to describe family members. Which of the following words is not typical of her views?

a. “ugly”         b. “too skinny”            c. “aged and poor”      d. “fat”             e. “kind and wise”

B. A vague sense of place

4. The stories are set in Brazil, yet they are lacking in local color except for certain small details. Which of the following is not present?

a. one story is set in the exuberant streets of Rio during Carnival

b. in one story, the characters are dressed up because they intend to visit Copacabana too

c. the month of May is described as “autumn”

d. the characters have names such as Dona Carlota, José, Zilda, Olaria, and Glorinha

C. I’m not ok, and neither are you: A nightmarish world of the mind

Mental instability and upsetting states of mind afflict many characters in this book. Match the situation to the character. 

Characters: a. the grandmother in “Happy Birthday” ; b. the woman in “The Buffalo”; c. the young girl in “The Mystery in São Cristóvão”; d. the wife in “The Imitation of the Rose”


5. a frightening nocturnal vision that causes prematurely white hair

6. paralyzing fear and anxiety

7. grief, loneliness, and despair                     

8. suspicion of other people, repressed fury that explodes suddenly            

D. Animals: not anyone’s best friend

9. There are several animals depicted in Family Ties. Which is not found in the book?

a. a chicken that gets its head chopped off

b. an enormous cat that stands in the street before disappearing

c. a parrot that swears in Spanish

d. a dog that is abandoned by its owner

E. Finally it’s over: the sweetness of ending

Some of the most poignant moments in Lispector’s prose are found at the end of the stories, as if in relief.

10. Which of the following lines were not written by Clarice Lispector in the book we read?

a. “as if she were snuffing out a candle, she blew out that day’s tiny flame.”

b. “From the open door he saw his wife sitting upright on the couch, once more alert and tranquil as if on a train. A train that had already departed.”

c.  “The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net.  … So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”

d. “And she got her new shoes.”

e. “the whole house seemed to lie in wait for that breeze of plenitude to blow once more after dinner. Perhaps it would happen some other autumn evening.”


1. c.

2. c.

3. e.

4. a.

5. frightening nocturnal vision that causes prematurely white hair: c. the young girl in “The Mystery in São Cristóvão”

6. . paralyzing fear and anxiety: d. the wife in “The Imitation of the Rose”

7. grief, loneliness, and despair: b. the woman in “The Buffalo”

8. suspicion of other people, repressed fury that explodes suddenly: a. the grandmother in “Happy Birthday”          

9. c.

10. c. Those beautiful lines were written by Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God.  (They are the last words in that book.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s