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. Who will be visiting with Brenda?

2. In spite of what is John at home when Brenda comes to meet with his mother?

3. Who believes the Abbey exhibits poor taste?

4. What does Marjorie solicit of Jock?

5. Who calls and leaves a message for Tony but will not speak to him?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe John Andrew's death.

2. How does John Andrew's behavior demonstrate that he is indeed being affected by the disruption of the household?

3. Why do you think Tony is unconcerned with Brenda spending time in London with her old social circle?

4. How are the rooms of Hetton symbolic?

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

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

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

8. What demonstrates how very widespread the knowledge about Brenda's affair is and how much it is a topic of conversation?

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

10. What do you think about Jock's behavior towards his friend, Tony?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

One of the major themes of A HANDFUL OF DUST is that of the differences among different classes in 1930's England. When the book opens, we meet Mrs. Beaver and her son John, who though they once lived in luxury, now get by through Mrs. Beaver's foray into the mundane middle class of making a living. Choose one of the following to discuss:

1. Discuss the idea of "class" as it exists in this novel. Be sure to include specific examples from the text and a definition of class.

2. Compare and contrast the life of upper-class England with that of either the middle class or lower class (i.e., the servants) as it exists in the novel. What is the upper class attitude towards earning a living? The middle class? The lower class? Which class seems the most practical? The most idealistic?

3. Discuss the following question: What is more of a barrier among people: class, education, religion or gender? Explain your reasoning fully using examples both from the text and your own life experiences.

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

There is a lot of foreshadowing throughout this story. Discuss the following:

1. How is Brenda's affair with John Beaver foreshadowed? Give examples.

2. How is John Andrew's death foreshadowed? Give examples.

3. Do you think Tony becoming lost in the jungle "forever" is foreshadowed? Why or why not? Give examples.

4. Do you think the author's use of foreshadowing is effective? Why or why not?

(see the answer keys)

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