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. Nat tells Gray of an event that "laid the groundwork" for his later actions, including the insurrection. What was that event?

2. According to Nat's statements, the insurrection was ______.

3. Which Biblical prophet did Nat feel "spoke" to him most clearly about the rebellion?

4. What does Nat wonder about after sentencing?

5. Gray quotes a study by Professor Enoch Mebane that says:

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. Nat tells Gray in the Introduction, "I don't think you understand about this business and I don't know but whether it's too late to make it all plain". If Gray took down what Nat said and is reading it back to him, why would Nat think Gray didn't understand?

3. By the middle of Part 1, readers have met four white people: Gray, Kitchen, Miss Maria Pope, and Jeremiah Cobb. None of them are described positively. Why might that be? Since the book is supposedly written from Nat's point of view, why might he only describe white people (to this point in the book) in negative terms?

4. In Part 1, Nat says "a white man's discomfiture, observed on the sly, has always been a Negro's richest delight." Is this true? If so, why? If not, why would Nat think such a thing? Either way, what does that quote suggest about Nat?

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

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. 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?

8. The Introduction opens in the jail, so the reader already know Nat has been caught. Why might the author have used this technique? Why not choose some other method of telling the story?

9. While in jail, Nat describes Kitchen and thinks of him in one way, yet speaks to him in a completely different manner. Describe the differences and what this tells readers about Nat.

10. When Gray addresses the court, he blames "pure Negro cowardice" as a partial reason for the rebellion's failure, but then later in that same paragraph, Gray describes devoted slaves fighting "as bravely as any man" against Nat and his band. Why is he saying these things? Is he trying to confuse the justices?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In Part 1, Miss Nell gives Nat a Bible and says, "Heed this good book, Nathaniel, and happiness shall attend you wherever you go." Nat was, of course, able to read the Bible and eventually became a self-professed minister of the Word. Do you think the Bible brought him happiness? What part did the Bible and religion play in Nat's life from that point on? Did Nat's religious upbringing play a part in his decision to murder?

Essay Topic 2

Near the end of Part 2, Nat reflects on the fact that the other slaves "cared nothing about themselves or where they were going." They weren't concerned about the future, and their sale didn't seem to bother them. Why were they unconcerned? Use at least one specific example from the book in your essay.

Essay Topic 3

In Part 2, when Nat observes the interaction of Arnold and Major Ridley's fiancee, we see the first mention of sexual yearning on Nat's part for a woman--and in this case, a white woman. Yet it's not a yearning of love. In fact, Nat's imagery at this point is very violent. Why do you think Styron wrote the scene this way? Describe another way he could have written the scene. How would it have been different if it had been written the way you described? What different points, if any, would have been made with the other method?

(see the answer keys)

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