A Handful of Dust Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. How do others feel about John at the party?

2. Why does John initially decline Brenda's request that he escort her to a party?

3. How long before Brenda returns to Hetton again?

4. Where does John encounter Tony?

5. What is Jenny's response to the house?

Short Essay Questions

1. What are several things revealed about Jenny Abdul Akbar?

2. What demonstrates Tony's inadvertent complicity in Brenda's new life and affair with another man?

3. What demonstrates that Tony is trying to regain emotional intimacy with Brenda?

4. What happens in this chapter that indicates Brenda's lack of devotion as a mother?

5. How does it seem Mrs. Beaver is manipulating something between Brenda and John Beaver?

6. How does it seem that Brenda has absolutely no concern for Tony nor for her own reputation?

7. How is John Beaver's social standing improving through his affair with Brenda?

8. How is it that John Andrew gets caught in the middle of the problems between his parents?

9. What does Brenda do the rest of the weekend at Hetton and why do you think she does those things?

10. What can you infer about the Beaver household from the information in Chapter 1?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Some readers and/or critics might say that A HANDFUL OF DUST contains some elements of a dark comedy. Discuss the following giving specific examples:

1. Define dark comedy and give some examples of works of dark comedy in literature and/or film.

2. Discuss several scenes from A HANDFUL OF DUST that might contain elements of a dark comedy.

3. Why do you think Waugh incorporates elements of dark comedy into this work?

Essay Topic 2

The men in A HANDFUL OF DUST often seem to get the bad end of the stick from the women in their lives. Some say that Waugh's somewhat compassionate treatment of Brenda and other women in his other novels who have "strayed" is a reflection of his own life. Discuss the following:

1. How does Waugh portray the relationship between men and women in A HANDFUL OF DUST?

2. Do you think Waugh's portrayal is accurate? How much of his portrayal of how the women treat the men may be a reflection of his personal experience? (This may require a little research).

3. Are there any women in the text who are portrayed admirably? Who? Give examples.

Essay Topic 3

One person is seldom to blame when adultery comes into a marriage. Discuss the following:

1. What factors push Brenda into adultery? Give examples.

2. What is Tony's part in why Brenda chooses to be unfaithful? Should he accept part of the blame? Give examples.

3. Do you think the way Tony treats Brenda after her request for a divorce is fair and honorable? Why or why not?

(see the answer keys)

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