Desert Solitaire 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. The Moab Valley in the distance lies between

2. Abbey feels if you have reached the point of needing moisture from the barrel cactus

3. April mornings in the desert are

4. Water has not created the arches, but they are instead carved by

5. Why were the little calves terrified during the roundup?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why was Turnbow Cabin built?

2. Abbey does not speak highly of the man-made lakes on the Colorado. Why?

3. Abbey mentions thinking the unthinkable as he drives through the desert past the Arches headquarters. To what is he referring?

4. The poet to whom Abbey refers in this chapter when he says, "It was all foreseen a half century ago," is Robinson Jeffers, and his poem is entitled "Broken Balance." Why does Abbey not provide the reader with that information, when he has so adamantly laid out his reasoning and feelings for us in the previous paragraphs?

5. Where in this chapter does Abbey foreshadow a story involving quicksand?

6. Why do the men make jokes about the dead man?

7. Why does Abbey persist in pursuing Moon-Eye when the heat and conditions have become quite uncomfortable for him?

8. Explain Abbey's vague contempt for human beings that emerges in this chapter.

9. Explain Abbey's description of the life cycle of the spadefoot toad.

10. What concession does Abbey make to man's ingenuity when it comes to life in the desert?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

There are hundreds of geographical features mentioned in Desert Solitaire. Make a table and list of all of the geographical features, look up their meanings and descriptions, and add images, if possible. Provide copies of your material to the class for reference as they read Desert Solitaire.

Essay Topic 2

Could you, and would you, volunteer for a job through the summer in the desert, knowing the harsh conditions? Why do you think Edward Abbey deliberately, and more than once, took the Park Ranger job for the summer, which was clearly an extreme challenge? Is he a little crazy, as he notes? What does the experience provide him with, if anything?

Essay Topic 3

Choose ten plants or bushes that Abbey describes in this book, and do more intensive study on the flora of the desert by researching these particular plant species. Why does each thrive in the desert, what are their built-in defense systems, what seasons do they bloom or go to seed, how does each reproduce, and what intrinsic values do they possess in terms of beauty, sustenance for other living things, medicinal properties, shade, etc. Try to locate visual images of the plants to add to your essay.

(see the answer keys)

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