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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town: The Learning Resource

Nine: The Mariposa Bank Mystery

Summary

The Mariposa Bank Mystery recounts “one of the most impenetrable bank mysteries that ever baffled the ingenuity of some of the finest legal talent that ever adorned one of the most enterprising communities in the country” (142). While the identity of the late-night intruder at the Exchange Bank is never solved by any bank or law official, the intrusion paves the way for Peter Pupkin and Zena Pepperleigh to marry.

Reading Questions
1. In one of Pupkin’s suicidal moments, he picks up a copy of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. However, he fails to read it. Kant’s book considers the foundations and limits of knowledge.
a) Look at Pupkin’s jealousy of the poet reading on the Pepperleigh’s porch. What was Pupkin’s reason for being jealous? How was Pupkin’s jealousy based on limited knowledge?
b) What are the risks of acting on limited knowledge?

2. When Pupkin hears the intruder in the bank, he remembers that “there was sixty thousand dollars in the vault of the bank below, and that he was paid eight hundred dollars a year to look after it” (144).
a) What is this passage saying about the imbalance of wealth in society?
b) Is this fair?

3. Who did Pupkin see in the bank’s basement? Who did Gillis see in the bank’s basement?

4. How do the details of Pupkin’s wound change as the story spreads throughout Mariposa? Is this generally how stories evolve as they are passed through a community?

5. What is the fate of Peter Pupkin and Zena Pepperleigh?

6. The Mariposa bank mystery is “one of the most impenetrable bank mysteries that ever baffled the ingenuity of some of the finest legal talent that ever adorned one of the most enterprising communities in the country” (142). Is anything in this statement true?

7. How does the chapter reveal that suicide is a poor idea?

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