The Bonfire of the Vanities 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. Where does Sherman meet Tommy Killian in Chapter 17?

2. What does Sherman want to do when he meets with Tommy Killian?

3. To which literary character do the assistant DA's in the Bronx Courthouse compare Abe Weiss?

4. With whom is Sherman on the phone when he sees the Henry Lamb coverage in the City Light?

5. Which of Sherman's financiers offers him 6 million dollars less for the Giscard investment in Chapter 12?

Short Essay Questions

1. What are Kramer's principle concerns about the Henry Lamb case?

2. What does Sherman discover in the papers in Chapter 14?

3. After hearing Sherman's story, what is Freddy's concern?

4. What does Sherman realize about Maria during their conversation in Chapter 11?

5. Describe Maria Ruskin.

6. What concerns Sherman McCoy about taking Martin and Goldberg to his garage?

7. How does Judy explain Sherman's work to Campbell?

8. How does Sherman McCoy's self-image change during the course of Chapter 3?

9. Why do the McCoys rent a car to go to the Bavardages party?

10. What do Maria and Sherman ultimately decide to do regarding the Bronx car incident?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Using the high society parties in Bonfire of the Vanities, write an essay about Wolfe's attitude toward the ceremonies of the upper-crust of New York society. What is expected and decried within these functions? Use specific characters (Judy McCoy, Bunning) and their interactions with Sherman McCoy to argue your point.

Essay Topic 2

The Mayor of New York is the only recurring character in the novel without a name. Write an essay about the mayor as a symbol for the political, legal, and business system of New York. What does the mayor fear? What does he consider his failures and successes? How does he cope with forces he does not understand and cannot face?

Essay Topic 3

Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities is famous for its honest and vicious portrayals of persons of all races. Under the heavy satire of figures like Reverend Bacon and Roland Auburn are some maudlin and disturbing observations about black urban poverty. Write an essay on this topic:

Part 1) Early in the novel, Sherman panics while at a payphone in the rain because he sees a young black man approaching him. What assumptions does Sherman make about New York? What does this say about the social divide in New York?

Part 2) When at last the truth of why Henry Lamb and Roland Auburn were together the night Henry was run down comes out, Weiss quickly buries it. Why was Henry hanging out with Roland? Why didn't he leave when things turned violent? What constant pressures were on this nonviolent young man?

Part 3) What happens to the Lamb family at the end of the novel? How are they the ultimate losers in this elaborate game of politics, media, and legal maneuvering?

(see the answer keys)

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