A Mencken Chrestomathy 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. What kind of men has history been written by, to date?

2. Why might "reflective and skeptical men" refrain from suicide?

3. How does Mencken describe Oliver Wendell Holmes?

4. Privately, politicians are what kind of people?

5. What does democracy ruin, according to Mencken?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the degree of women's "civility" according to Mencken? How does emotion factor in to civility?

2. In Chapter 1, what comparison does Mencken make between man and animal? Who is "superior"?

3. What does Mencken feel about the relationship between science and religion?

4. Describe Mencken's conception of the Anglo-Saxon American. What are this person's flaws?

5. Per Chapter 2, describe Mencken's summation of the following types of people: the romantic, the believer, the metaphysician, and the altruist.

6. What effect did the Civil War have on the American South, and why was this conflict so disastrous to Mencken from a cultural standpoint?

7. What is the origin of morality according to Mencken?

8. What is Mencken's take on the universality of morality? Can morality grow and change, or is it static?

9. Describe Mencken's thought experiment, in which he imagines if the Confederacy had won the Civil War.

10. What does Mencken have to say about politicians? What kind of people are they? How do they operate?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Summarize Mencken's views on government, especially the democratic form of government. Include:

a) The average man's conception of government

b) The history and evolution of democracy as Mencken sees it

c) Why democracy is inherently flawed

d) The effects of democracy -- what it harms, what kind of people it produces

e) Mencken's prescription for an ideal form of government/leadership for the United States

Essay Topic 2

1) Make the distinction between maxims, epigrams, and apothegms. How were these literary devices used by Mencken? How do they fit his tone and perspective as an author? What did Mencken accomplish with them?

2) Evaluate the following entry: "Q: If you find so much that is unworthy of reverence in the United States, then why do you live here? A: Why do men go to zoos?" How is this entry indicative of Mencken's tone as an author? How is it indicative of his worldview and general view of humanity?

Essay Topic 3

Summarize Mencken's views on organized religion. Discuss each of the following topics:

a) The notion that the universe is constructed or divinely designed

b) The notion that God can only have a net positive effect on Man

c) The modern problem with Protestantism

d) The doctrine of free will

e) The relationship between science and religion

(see the answer keys)

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