Desolation Island 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. What does Aubrey do to Herapath?

2. Who does Aubrey visit after inspecting the prisoners' quarters?

3. What does Maturin feel as he travels to call on Villiers?

4. What is Aubrey doing as the novel opens?

5. How many sailors are allowed liberty at the next stop?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Maturin decide he must do over the Villiers affair and what does he do?

2. A somewhat unique connection is forged between Aubrey and Herapath during the rescue-from-drowning scene. Why do you think this connection occurred?

3. Grant subtly but constantly criticizes Aubrey's handling of the ship--an irritating trait in any man but particularly when directed at such an obvious nautical genius as Aubrey. Why do you think Grant continues to criticize a captain who is obviously a superior seaman?

4. Who visits Aubrey often and what does he find Aubrey involved in with his initial visit in this book?

5. Maturin begins to mention Herapath to Wogan as a unique case--she claims an interest because she had seen his fall. It seems simple enough to Maturin, and soon enough he discusses Herapath with Wogan freely. All along, the three maintain their innocence. What do you think it means when Maturin thinks Wogan's explanation is dimple enough?

6. What kind of storm does Aubrey hit when he first sails and what does he do about it?

7. What does Maturin receive from Herapath twice and what does he find out?

8. What happens after the ship is put in order from the storm and what does Maturin discover?

9. Wogan's viewing of Aubrey's nude body is humorous and a fictional inversion of usual events. Why do you think the scene is an inversion of usual events?

10. Who comes to call on Maturin after he leaves the Admiralty and what does he say?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The Dutch ship Waakzaamheid is pursing the English vessel Leopard. Discuss the following:

1. Why do you think the Dutch are after an English Naval vessel? (May require a little research.)

2. Why do you think Aubrey is desolate at the loss of the men on the Dutch ship when the Dutch ship is clearly the aggressor?

3. Many times soldiers and sailors are placed under an incompetent commander or one who does not care about loss of life as long as a goal is obtained. The Dutch commander seems to fall under the second group. What recourse do you think soldiers/sailors have under such circumstances? What recourse should be legislated?

Essay Topic 2

Often in O'Brian's series involving Jack Aubrey, his ship and/or life is saved by extraordinary means. Discuss the following:

1. Identify and analyze a time in the book when O'Brian makes free use of the technique of narrative contrivance to save Aubrey and his ship.

2. Does the use of narrative contrivance diminish the impact of the plot? The believability of the storyline?

3. Is there any other way O'Brian could have a mixture of suspense and action while at the same time making certain the main characters are not killed?

Essay Topic 3

During this era when the book takes place, if a vessel under the command of a naval officer captures another vessel from a country with whom they are warring or captures a pirate vessel, etc...the crew of the victorious vessel shares in the goods, money and value of the vessel. Discuss the following:

1. Why do you think the British had such a policy in place then?

2. What are the possible abuses that can arise from such a policy?

3. Why do you think this policy is eventually abandoned?

(see the answer keys)

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