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. In Chapter 4, what title does Maria assign to Sherman that annoys him?

2. What is Sherman McCoy's dog's name?

3. What does Detective Martin covertly do while he sits on Sherman's desk?

4. Why does Larry Kramer wait in his bedroom before going out into the main room?

5. What is the ethnicity of the criminal lawyer to whom Sherman is referred?

Short Essay Questions

1. How has Larry Kramer's career track been different from those of most of his classmates at Columbia?

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

3. What do Detectives Martin and Goldberg discover at the parking garage by Sherman's building?

4. In Chapter 13, what are Sherman's thoughts about telling Judy the truth?

5. What is the Mayor's principle fear during his town hall in the Prologue?

6. How does Fallow falsify the source of his information regarding the Mercedes search?

7. How does Al Vogel suggest that Fallow present the Henry Lamb story?

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

9. Why does Sherman McCoy have to go to the toilet at his firm to read the newspaper?

10. Describe the speech Lord Buffing makes.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

According to Aristotle's Poetics, a tragic hero is a person that strives intently towards a certain goal only to discover that he or she has accomplished its opposite. Write an essay about Sherman McCoy as a character who has twice experienced this tragic catharsis:

Part 1) At the beginning of the novel, what does Sherman McCoy think he deserves in life? How does his pursuit of this lead him to its opposite?

Part 2) Late in the novel, Sherman discusses his early days at Pierce and Pierce with Judy. When he was younger his goals were different than they are just before he meets Henry Lamb. To what extent is this conversation a delayed catharsis about his first tragic loss? How has Sherman already lost something when the novel begins?

Essay Topic 2

Lust for the flesh is the only inclination in Wolfe's novel that supersedes lust for money or power. Write an essay focusing on Sherman, Maria, and Kramer, analyzing how each makes foolish choices because of lust. How are both Sherman and Maria undone by unwise sexual decisions? How does Shelly Thomas become such an idol to Kramer?

Essay Topic 3

Sherman McCoy, at the beginning of the novel, considers himself a "Master of the Universe." Write an essay about what that means in his life. How does it affect his attitude toward family? Fidelity? His work? What is Tom Wolfe saying about the nature of capitalism in the 1980s through the character of Sherman McCoy?

(see the answer keys)

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