Ape and Essence Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Set the scene for the opening of the novel. What is happening? When?

On the day of Gandhi's assassination in 1948, the sightseers are more interested in their picnic baskets. At the lunch table in the Studio Commissary, Bob Briggs' only concern is talking about himself, while the narrator listens, bored. The narrator and Bob Briggs are both in the film industry.

2. What are the specifics of Bob Briggs' personal troubles at the outset of the novel?

Bob and Elaine go to Acapulco when she demands it as an ultimatum while he is still considering whether to leave Miriam, his wife, and make Elaine his mistress. Bob is bound to adultery the way Gandhi is bound to nonviolence but with many deep misgivings. Now, Elaine is acting strangely and has been seen several times with the Moldavian baron. Miriam refuses to divorce Bob, but she has used his absence to transfer their homes and vehicles into her name using her power of attorney for his estate.

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