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 does Brenda fool John Beaver?

2. Why is John disappointed with the phone call?

3. Where does John next encounter Brenda?

4. How does John remain connected to the upper class?

5. What happens to John Andew?

Short Essay Questions

1. Is it likely that John Beaver at this point is not really interested in pursuing something with Brenda Last?

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

3. What do you think of John Beaver's attempts to remain connected to the upper class by angling for invitations to various events.

4. What occurs in this chapter to demonstrate how far Brenda has sunken into self deceit?

5. What sort of "struggle" seems to be going on between Brenda and John Beaver?

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

7. What does Tony find annoying and why do you think he put himself in the situation?

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

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

10. What does Brenda propose to Tony and why do you think he agrees?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In most relationships, each person is getting something out of the relationship, whether or not the relationship seems good. Discuss the following:

1. What do you think John Beaver is getting out of his affair with Brenda, especially considering he does not seem to particularly like Brenda.

2. What do you think Brenda is getting out of his affair with John, especially considering she does not seem to particularly find John all that interesting.

3. What is Tony getting out of the marriage with Brenda after she begins staying in London for great lengths of time?

Essay Topic 2

Often the people hurt the most in a situation like that of Tony and Brenda's is a child. John Andrew plays a pivotal role in the melodrama of Brenda's descent into selfishness. Discuss the following:

1. Compare the relationship between John Andrew and each of his parents.

2. How does the relationship between John Andrew and his parents (individually) change over the course of the story?

3. How does John Andrew tip the scales in Brenda's decision to reveal all to Tony? Do you think she is genuinely grieved about her son's death or glad for an opportunity for "total freedom"?

Essay Topic 3

Waugh offers an alternate ending in his serialization of A HANDFUL OF DUST in an American magazine. In that ending, Tony returns to England, is reunited with Brenda, moves into her flat and begins a series of affairs himself. Discuss the following:

1. Which ending to the novel do you think is closer to reality? Why?

2. Which ending is a more honorable one for Tony? Why?

3. Do you think Brenda would have welcomed Tony back and then stayed with it despite his affairs? Explain your reasoning using examples from the text.

(see the answer keys)

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