The Extraordinary Entanglement of Mr. Pupkin discusses the backgrounds and personalities of several characters in Sunshine Sketches: Peter Pupkin, the junior teller at the Exchange Bank; Pupkin’s roommate Mallory Tompkins, who worked at the Mariposa Times-Herald; Judge Pepperleigh, the district judge of Missinaba County; and Pepperleigh’s wife Martha and children Neil and Zena.
1. Describe Judge Pepperleigh’s temperament.
2. Judge Pepperleigh presides over the case where his son is accused of assaulting Peter McGinnis, the Liberal organiser.
a) How does Pepperleigh rule in this case?
b) What is Pepperleigh’s reasoning?
c) Judges must excuse themselves from hearing cases where they are related to any of the litigants or lawyers involved. What do Judge Pepperleigh’s actions tell us about the importance of this requirement?
3. Why would it “serve no purpose now” (113) to tell Judge Pepperleigh about the behaviour of his son Neil? Do you agree?
4. When discussing the gossip about the Pepperleighs, the narrator asks “But are you sure you know the other side of it?” (113). Why is this an important question to ask in any situation?
5. According to Duncan McDowall’s history of the Royal Bank Quick to the Frontier, “Just as a minister knew the secrets of a community’s soul, so the banker knew its true financial worth. Thus the banker, however junior, had to act with discretion and rectitude.” Look back to how Pupkin discusses the town’s finances on pages 114-115. Was Pupkin living up to this ideal?
6. Describe Mallory Tompkins and Peter Pupkin’s debates on creationism vs. evolution.
a) Who wins these debates?
c) What do these debates tell us about having an informed opinion?
7. How does Peter Pupkin meet Zena Pepperleigh? Is it really “one of the strangest circumstances in the whole world” (119)?