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. Whom does Bethia believe has been taken advantage of?

2. What happens when a whale strands itself on the beach?

3. What does Caleb's "real" name mean?

4. What does Noah do the next morning?

5. Why does Bethia say she will continue to do what she has been doing?

Short Essay Questions

1. What happens to Bethia's sister Solace?

2. 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?

3. Why does Bethia work so hard on her chores?

4. What does Noah show Bethia the next morning and what is her reaction?

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

6. What happens that evening after Caleb ends his friendship with Bethia that makes Bethia believe she contributes to her mother's death?

7. What frustrates Bethia about her life and choices available to her?

8. How does Caleb explain his early morning greeting to the sun god?

9. How does Bethia describe her life in Cambridge?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

1. What is foreshadow? How many incidences of foreshadow are in Caleb's Crossing? How does foreshadow contribute to a book's suspense?

2. Discuss an example of foreshadow in Caleb's Crossing including why you believe it is foreshadow. Include examples from the book and your own life to illustrate your answer.

3. How do you think most people react to uncertainty in their lives? Use examples from Caleb's Crossing and your own live to support your opinion.

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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