The Confessions of Nat Turner 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. According to Gray, what excuse did Nat give for his participation in the rebellion?

2. What was Nat's rebellion not motivated by?

3. Nat describes black slaves as being docile, yet filled with ______.

4. Turner says he submits Nat's "own account of the conspiracy" to the public ____________.

5. What does Gray say was the "only principle of restraint" for the band of slaves?

Short Essay Questions

1. Prejudice is "an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought or reason". ( Do you think Nat displays prejudice toward Gray? Toward whites in general? How? List specific examples from Part 1.

2. What do readers know about Gray from the Introduction? What is implied, or what can be inferred from what Gray says? From this information, what kind of person might Gray be?

3. Read Nat's description of Gray when they first meet in Part 1. Read Nat's thoughts about Gray immediately after the description. What does Nat think and/or feel about Gray? Does that have an effect on Nat's decision to confess? What does he think whites expect of him?

4. In the introduction, Gray refers to the insurrection as a "conspiracy." Do you agree with that term? Why or why not?

5. Part 1 is told partly in the court as Nat's sentence is being handed down and partly through flashbacks to earlier times in Nat's life. Why might Styron have opened the book this way? What purpose does it serve?

6. Styron published this book in 1967, 136 years after Nat Turner's rebellion and during a time of unrest in the United States over equal rights and race relations. In the Author's Note he says "the year 1831 was, simultaneously, a long time ago and only yesterday." What might he mean by that?

7. Describe the world that Nat lived in from a slave's perspective. Now describe it from a white person's perspective.

8. In Part 1, when Nat is cleaning rabbits with Hark and Jeremiah Cobb stops to talk after getting a drink, Nat becomes nervous when he feels Cobb's question needs an answer. Nat doesn't want to give away a hint of what he's planning, but there's something else that pulls him in two directions when he considers whether to answer Cobb or not. Describe why Nat is so worried.

9. When Judge Cobb first appears in the book, Nat describes his face as "blighted, ravaged by sorrow." When considering his eventual killing spree, Nat decides to spare Cobb. Why might he have done that?

10. In the Introduction, Gray talks about an "annexed certificate of the County Court of Southampton" to prove the authenticity of Nat's "confession." Yet no one from the court, besides Gray, heard Nat's statements. Why might Gray have included the certificate?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In 1831 Virginia, it was illegal for slaves to learn to read and write. Why, then, did Samuel Turner decide to teach Nat? What effects, good and bad, could this have had for Mr. Turner? Were there risks for Nat, as well? If so, what were they?

Essay Topic 2

How does Nat feel about T. R. Gray at the beginning of the book? Does he feel the same way at the end? How can you tell? Cite specific examples from the text. How does that compare to how Nat feels about other white people throughout the book?

Essay Topic 3

The scene with Isham (Part 3) is particularly vivid. That moment when Isham dared to shout at Moore startled Moore, but they changed Nat. What was it about Isham's interaction that stuck with Nat? How did Nat look upon Isham's actions as being his call to develop the plans for the insurrection? Isham isn't mentioned again in the book, especially in anything related to the planned killings. Why do you think that is?

(see the answer keys)

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