The Bonfire of the Vanities Test | Final 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 prominent component of the McCoy case is Larry Kramer trying to purchase?

2. What is Sherman McCoy's status at Pierce and Pierce as of Chapter 25?

3. Where do Maria and Sherman meet to talk in Chapter 29?

4. What is the outcome of the legal firestorm for Abe Weiss?

5. Whom does Reverend Bacon claim the Sherman McCoy is smearing?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why has no one heard of Roland Auburn even though he has been in the papers?

2. In what way does Shelly Thomas disagree with Kramer about the McCoy case?

3. How does Larry Kramer characterize Roland Auburn in Chapter 19?

4. As Kramer is interviewing Maria Ruskin, what does he realize he loves about his job?

5. Why does Bernie disagree with Abe Weiss about the planned arrest of Sherman?

6. Describe the story that Arthur Ruskin tells Peter Fallow at dinner.

7. Which of Killian's promises are broken during his arrest?

8. What does the mayor decide regarding the McCoy case?

9. What aspects of Sherman McCoy's life are disrupted by the Henry Lamb case?

10. What does Sherman tell Judy about his relationship with Maria?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

Peter Fallow is a catalyst for much of the action in the novel. He is also the most successful of the major characters, rising from the ashes of his own inequity over the course of the novel. Write an essay about the Fallow character as a satiric perversion of the "rags to riches" story. Does Fallow ever accomplish anything on his own? If talent is not his ticket to stardom, what is in the novel?

Essay Topic 3

The legal system in Bonfire of the Vanities is presented as a largely toothless organism, constantly used as a tool in the political maneuverings of outside interests. Using the Sherman McCoy case as a frame, write en essay about the weakness of the criminal court. Who is in control of the proceedings? Is justice served at the end? What does the courtroom riot signify about Wolfe's opinion of the legal system?

(see the answer keys)

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