Collected Fictions 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 "The Zahir," how does the narrator rid himself of the coin?

2. In "The Widow Ching--Pirate," what occupation does Ching decide on, after she gives up pirating?

3. In "The House of Asterion," Asterion lives in a place that can best be described as which of the following?

4. In "The Chamber of Statues," where is the king warned not to go?

5. In "The Disinterested Killer Bill Harrigan," who shoots Bill?

Short Essay Questions

1. In "Averroes' Search," how is Borges' attempt to write of Averroes similar to Averroes own difficulties?

2. In "The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero," why does Kilpatrick participate in his own assassination?

3. In "The South," how does Dahlmann feel about his imminent death in a knife fight?

4. In "A Biography of Tadeo Isidoro Cruz (1829-1874)," what makes Tadeo decide to fight for Martin Fierro, the man he pursues?

5. In "The Man on the Threshold," why do the people pretend that they do not know what happened to Glencairn when the investigator asks them?

6. Describe the theme in "The Mirror of Ink."

7. "The Approach to Al-Mu'tasim" is a review of a book that does not exist. How is this significant?

8. In "The Improbable Impostor Tom Castro," what is Tom's relationship to Ebenezer Bogle?

9. In "The Aleph," what is the narrator's attitude toward Carlos Argentino?

10. In "Three Versions of Judas," what are the three ways Runeberg portrays Judas?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Why does Borges, a cerebral author, often focus on lowlife characters? He often frames stories of knife fights, gangsters, murder, prostitution, etc., with academic musings. What is the effect of this seeming disconnect? Does this rough subject matter undercut the intellectualism? Or does the intellectual frame suggest that there might be more to these earthy stories? Perhaps they strike a perfect balance. Use specific stories in developing your answer.

Essay Topic 2

Describe the concept of forbidden knowledge in Borges' stories. Are there certain things man should not know? Is it dangerous to try to play the Divine? Think of stories such as "The Writing of the God," "A Theologian in Death," "The Chamber of Statues," and "The Mirror of Ink." Choose at least one of these stories, and up to three in supporting your essay.

Essay Topic 3

Borges often portrays characters who switch sides, stand for one cause and then join the opposite one. How do these characters reflect Borges' concept of human identity? Is he merely criticizing a form of human behavior, or is he making a point about the precariousness of the self? Choose at least two appropriate stories and be specific in your answer.

(see the answer keys)

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