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"Mr Know-All" Review Page

1. What is the setting for the story?


The story happens on a ship sailing from San Francisco, U.S.A. to Yokohama, Japan. The time is just after
World War I (1918 or 1919)
2. What do we learn about the narrator at the beginning of the story?
We learn that he is prejudiced because he dislikes Max Kelada just because of his foreign (not British) sounding
name. He hasn't even met him yet.
3. How does the narrator "prejudge" Mr. Kelada?
He judges him by his name and by his belongings which he sees in their cabin. He dislikes the fact that a
foreigner could be wealthy ("too many labels on his suitcases" meaning that Mr. Kelada travels a lot) and his
perfume is the very expensive Coty perfume and he has his monogram (the letters of his name M.K. his
initials, in gold on his expensive hairbrushes).
4. Describe Max Kelada and his behaviour.
Max Kelada is very friendly (over-friendly) and not formal at all (he doesn't call the narrator "Mr." before his
name, even though he has only just met him he treats him like a friend. He talks a lot and with hand gestures
which shows he is foreign and not British. He doesn't realize that the narrator doesn't want him around he
shows him card tricks when he doesn't want to see them and tells him how to play his cards. He arranges to be
with the narrator at the dinner table and accompanies him on deck when he goes for a walk. He is involved in
everything that happens on the ship and arranges the ball and the auction and gets to know everyone. He likes
to be right in everything and argues until he convinces people of his opinion so he gets the name "Mr. KnowAll". He does not behave like a British gentleman even though he is patriotic and shows everyone his British
passport and is proud of being British.
Mr. Kelada has dark hair, dark eyes, and a dark skin color and very white teeth and a big, hooked nose.
He is described as someone from an Eastern country, perhaps Arabic. He does not look British at all!
5. Who is Mr. Ramsay and why is he on the ship?
Mr. Ramsay is an American who works in the American consulate in Kobe, Japan. He is a simple clerk and
does not earn very much so his clothes are ready-made (not made by a tailor especially for him like the British
gentlemen.) He is on the ship because he went to New York to bring back his wife who had been alone there
for a year. Now they are both travelling back to Japan.
6. How is Mrs. Ramsay described?
Mrs. Ramsay is described by the narrator as "a pretty, little thing" she is quiet and wears simple clothes and
the narrator believes her to be very modest.
7. What is the bet between Mr. Kelada and Mr. Ramsay about?
Mrs. Ramsay is wearing a pearl necklace and Mr. Kelada (who is an expert on pearls) says it is made of real
pearls and is worth a lot of money ($30,000), whereas Mr. Ramsay says that his wife told him she had bought it
for $18 in a department store in New York. They bet $100 (which is a lot of money to Mr. Ramsay but Mr.
Kelada can afford to lose this amount of money as he is rich.) Mr. Kelada wants to look at the necklace more
closely, but Mrs. Ramsay claims she cannot take it off, so her husband undoes it for her in the end.
8. Why does Mr. Kelada lose the bet?
Mr. Kelada sees that Mrs. Ramsay's face becomes white and she is afraid and terrified that Mr. Kelada will say
that the pearls are real. He realizes that she is hiding something from her husband, probably the fact that
someone else (a lover) gave her the expensive pearls in the year that she was alone in New York.
Mr. Kelada behaves like a perfect British gentleman and sacrifices his own reputation in order to save Mrs.
Ramsay's marriage. He lies and says that the necklace is fake.
9. Who sends Mr. Kelada the note and what is in it?
Later in the evening Mrs. Ramsay sends Mr. Kelada an envelope with $100 in it and no letter. She is in fact
telling him that the pearls were real and thanking him for not revealing her secret.

10. Does the narrator's opinion of Mr. Kelada change?


The narrator when he sees that Mr. Kelada had behaved like a real gentleman says finally "I did not entirely
dislike him" his opinion has changed a little bit but he is still prejudiced against people who behave and look
foreign to him.
11. Discuss the title of the story and the comparison between real and cultured pearls in the story.
The story is called "Mr. Know-All" which is the nickname that the people on the ship give to Max Kelada.
They do this in order to make fun of him because he believes that he is always right and knows everything
better than anyone else. That is why it was so difficult for him (a pearl expert) to lie about the necklace and
admit he had made a mistake in thinking it was real.
However, Max Kelada really is Mr Know All and he is like a real, valuable pearl:
1) He was the only one who noticed Mrs. Ramsay's scared face.
2) He realized that she had a secret and didn't want her husband to know that the pearls were real.
3) He knew how to behave as a perfect gentleman and was willing to lose his won reputation in order to save
her marriage.
The narrator, on the other hand, who considers himself a real British gentleman, did not understand Mrs.
Ramsay's scared face and he had misjudged her, thinking her to be so modest the perfect little wife. He had
also misjudged Max Kelada, believing that he could never act as a British gentleman.
So Mrs. Ramsay and the narrator are actually the fake or cultured pearls.