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. Of what does Freddy Button believe Sherman is guilty?

2. What embarrassing thing happens to the landlord as he waits for Germaine Boll to return?

3. What is the name of the restaurant where Fallow meets Al Vogel?

4. What is Tommy Killian most concerned about in the immediate future?

5. In what New York neighborhood is Kramer in Chapter 10?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe Maria Ruskin.

2. Describe the speech Lord Buffing makes.

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

4. How does Tommy Killian explain the criminal justice system to Sherman in Chapter 17?

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

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

7. Why is the Herbert 92X trial becoming overblown at the Bronx courthouse?

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

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

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

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

In Tom Wolfe's novel, the media is the true arbiter of justice in New York City. If it does not involve a photo opportunity, it does not count and will not register in the public consciousness: Write an essay about the role of the media and how it skews public opinion to a certain end in the novel.

Part 1) How does Peter Fallow's initial coverage of the Henry Lamb hit-and-run turn a "piece of shit" into a priority for the DA? What does Fallow do to juice the scant information?

Part 2) How does the presence of television and newspaper coverage transform Reverend Bacon's meager demonstration in the Bronx into a public movement? What difference does it make in the life of the Henry Lamb case?

Part 3) How does the presence of the media at the Criminal Courts Building alter the nature of Sherman McCoy's arrest? How do his chances of success change?

Essay Topic 3

One of the reasons that Bonfire of the Vanities is regarded as such an acerbic satire is the way characters unabashedly relate to each other in terms of race. Wolfe tends to associate certain qualities with certain ethnic groups. Write an essay about the fraternity of the following three races. What major characters in the novel are of this ethnicity? What do they have in common? What do you think Wolfe is saying about this racial group?

Part 1) WASP

Part 2) Jewish

Part 3) Irish

(see the answer keys)

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