Special Sub-Topic: The Gold-Bug
|In which state and location does William Legrand reside?|
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. Sullivan's Island is just outside Charleston. While stationed at Fort Moultrie in his short stint in the Army, the Boston-born Poe heard of the island and its legends of buried pirate treasure. In the story, Legrand, a New Orleans native, has retreated there after suffering bankruptcy.
|Among his many hobbies, Legrand is an amateur entomologist (a scientist who studies insects). What sort of insect is the "Gold-Bug" he finds?|
scarab beetle. Back in the days of the Egyptian pharaohs, the scarab beetle was on of the most popular motifs in ancient Egyptian art. Poe's inspiration was the click beetle.
|Why does a skull appear on the parchment where Legrand draws a sketch of the Gold-Bug for his friend, the story's unnamed narrator?|
it was drawn there with invisible ink. Invisible ink, that disappears after being written, but reappears when heat or chemical solutions are applied, has been around for countless ages. It is a chilly day at the island when Legrand draws the sketch for his friend and being left by the fire, the once-invisble message appears. The skull points to piratical matters.
|When Legrand escapes the watching of his Negro slave Jupiter, what does the slave do?|
threatens to beat his master with a stick. When Jupiter finds Legrand has eluded him, Jupiter tells the narrator, "I had a big stick ready cut for to gib him deuced good beating when he did come-but I'se sich a fool dat I hadn't de heart arter all-he looked so berry poorly." In the 1840s, when Poe wrote the story, such racist caricatures of Negroes were rife, mostly in the slaveholding South, naturally. (If Jupiter had actually beaten his master, it no doubt would have meant a death sentence for the slave).
|Besides the Gold-Bug, what other animal shares Legrand's lodgings?|
Wolf, a Newfoundland dog. Newfoundland dogs are known for their great size. We learn the dog's name, Wolf, near the end of the story. Wolf greets the narrator by jumping on the latter's shoulders. The black cat Pluto is the title character of Poe's grisly "The Black Cat". The parrot Lulu figures in Gustave Flaubert's novella "A Simple Heart". The seal Esmeralde is part of the cast of Walt Disney's 1954 adaptation of Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea".
|Setting off on a mysterious trek to the other side of the island with Jupiter and the narrator, what does Legrand take with him?|
a scythe, three spades and the Gold-Bug. The spades are for digging up the pirate treasure, the scythe for clearing branches and brambles in the overgrown part of the island, and soon we'll see Legrand's reason for bringing the Gold-Bug along. Jupiter blames a bite from the Bug for his master's seeming "madness".
|When arriving at the location, what tree does Legrand make Jupiter climb?|
tulip. Legrand orders Jupiter to climb "an emormously tall tulip-tree, which stood, with some eight or ten oaks, upon the level and surpassed them all." Jupiter balks at first at taking the Gold-Bug up with him, but soon is persuaded to do so.
|What does Jupiter find on the tree's seventh branch?|
a human skull, fastened by a spike in one eye. It seems the skull on the parchment refers to the skull on the tree branch, which scares Jupiter. The slave is then ordered to drop the Gold-Bug through one of the eyes of the skull to find out the site where the treasure is buried.
|After the first try of digging yields no results, what does the second dig reveal?|
buried pirate treasure. Jupiter dropped the Gold-Bug through the wrong eye of the skull, the right; when it is dropped through the left eye, they dig again in the new position and find an ancient chest containing pirate loot of gold coins and jewels. Jupiter changes his mind about the Bug instantly.
Amontillado is a type of Sherry; Poe's "Cask of Amontillado" is one of his scariest tales, about a man who uses a cask of the wine as bait so he can entomb an enemy alive. The coffin refers to another Poe tale, "The Oblong Box", the box of the title being a coffin.
|What pirate is connected with story?|
William Kidd. Poe heard legends of Kidd burying his treasure on Sullivan's Island during his stay in the Army. Kidd was one of the most notorious pirates in history. Edward "Blackbeard" Teach and Anne Bonney were fellow buccaneers of Kidd. Lafitte is best known for aiding Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. (Lately, the stories of pirates burying their loot have been proven false).
|Where did Legrand find the parchment?|
buried near a wrecked longboat. When he found the Gold-Bug, Legrand found the piece of parchment buried in the sand beside the wreck of a longboat, no doubt used by Kidd and his cohorts. Two human skeletons were found atop the chest; Legrand surmises they were Kidd's fellow pirates, killed by Kidd to keep the loot for himself. The parchment also disclosed the cipher Kidd wrote the location of the treasure with and how to find it.
|In Poe's cipher, what letter does "8" represent?|
E. E is the most-used letter in the English alphabet, and Poe used "8" to represent it in his cipher.
|Name the number not used in the cipher.|
7. Poe did not use "7" in his cipher.
|Poe won a magazine contest with his story.|
T. Poe submitted the story to the Philadelphia Dollar Magazine and won a $100 prize. It was the most popular of his stories during his tortured lifetime and is still a favorite of readers today.
|Stevenson's "Treasure Island" was inspired by Poe's story.|
T. Stevenson himself acknowleged Poe's influence. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also followed in Poe's footsteps when he penned the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Dancing Men", another cryptographic story.
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