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's mind "finally" became what, according to Gray?

2. Southampton is located in what state?

3. What does Gray tell Nat about the Bible, when he cannot bring one to Nat?

4. What does Nat remember during Gray's speech to the court?

5. Who is Jeremiah Cobb?

Short Essay Questions

1. 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?

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

3. At the end of the introduction, it states that the confession was read to Nat, and when asked if he had anything further to say, he said no. The rebellion was a complicated affair that involved planning. Why do you think Nat declined to say anything further?

4. Prejudice is "an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought or reason". (Dictionary.com) Do you think Gray displays prejudice toward Nat? Toward blacks in general? How? List specific examples from the Introduction.

5. 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?

6. 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?

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. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

Ethelred T. Brantley was told by Reverend Entwistle that he would never be welcome in the church. Yet Nat told him that he could be saved by baptism in the Spirit. Nat had studied the Bible, and we can assume Reverend Entwistle had, as well. How could two completely opposite statements about the same person come based on the same book? What might have been some reasons for Entwistle telling Brantley he wasn't welcome? What might have been some reasons for Nat to tell Entwistle he could be saved?

(see the answer keys)

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