Caleb's Crossing Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Geraldine Brooks
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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 does Caleb's reading of Hebrew bring to Bethia's mind?

2. What is the name of Bethia's community?

3. With whom is Bethia's father arguing?

4. Who is Caleb?

5. What does Bethia impulsively suggest?

Short Essay Questions

1. How does Mayfield act in the aftermath of Solace's death?

2. What does Bethia say about the influence of Cambridge on Caleb?

3. What happens to Bethia's sister Solace?

4. Where is Bethia sent and what are the aftereffects of her drinking out of the gourd?

5. What does Bethia do that she attributes to Satan's influence and what are the consequences?

6. How does Bethia describe her life in Cambridge?

7. What is Bethia listening to as she lies in her bed?

8. What does Bethia say is the reason for the tension between her father and Makepeace, and why is it strange that they are upset with each other?

9. How does the first attempt at the conversion of the sonquem go and what changes that?

10. What does Tequamuck do as Mayfield prepares to leave for England, and what do some believe is the result of Tequamuck's actions?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Many readers of fiction place themselves in the position of one character, wondering if they would do the same thing as that character. Discuss the following:

1. Do you think one of the values of literature is to serve as a reflection of oneself? Why or why not?

2. Socrates said "Know thyself." How can reading a book such as Caleb's Crossing help a reader to know him/herself? Do you find yourself reflecting on your own character and abilities when reading Caleb's Crossing? Why or why not.

3. Choose one specific incident in Caleb's Crossing to discuss and compare one of the characters' response to how you think you would respond.

Essay Topic 2

An important symbolic element is the treatment of the whale, which can clearly be seen as a metaphor for the (exploitation? spiritual gutting?) of natives by whites that takes place throughout the novel. It might not be going too far, in fact, to suggest that the treatment of the whale is a metaphorical foreshadowing of how Caleb, Joel, and perhaps even Bethia herself, are treated by the white, educated, Christian men whose attitudes and beliefs define their lives. Granted, there are white people (Pastor Mayfield, the soon to be introduced Merry family) who treat the natives they encounter with a degree of respect. But the book clearly portrays these people and their views/actions as in the minority, perhaps as an overall authorial commentary on how white imperialist and/or capitalist Christianity overwhelmed goodwill and humanism on a number of levels.

1. Discuss the whale in view of the above statement, using your own thoughts and words. Use examples from your life and Caleb's Crossing to support your answer.

2. Discuss the concept of prejudice in light of the above statement. Include in your discussion thoughts on prejudice in present America. Use examples from your life and Caleb's Crossing to support your answer.

3. Discuss what you think is made by the statement: The book clearly portrays these people and their views/actions as in the minority, perhaps as an overall authorial commentary on how white imperialist and/or capitalist Christianity overwhelmed goodwill and humanism on a number of levels. Use examples from your life and Caleb's Crossing to support your answer.

Essay Topic 3

Often, authors will write about "what they know," and sometimes knowing a little about the author makes the books more interesting. Discuss the following:

1. Research and give a brief biographical sketch of Geraldine Brooks.

2. What in Brooks's background may have helped her in writing Caleb's Crossing? What may have influenced the way she depicts various characters and scenes?

3. Do you think there is always some of the author's own life in his/her novels? Why or why not? Give examples.

4. Have you ever read a book that when you finished, you do not understand the relevance of the title? Does it discourage you from "trusting" that particular author again?

(see the answer keys)

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