Desolation Island Test | Final 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 type of surprise attack does the Dutch captain set up one night?

2. Why do many of the crew drop out of work?

3. What kind of stalemate does Maturin have to break?

4. How does the crew act towards Wogan?

5. How well does Grant handle a ship?

Short Essay Questions

1. The novel thus ends with Leopard ready to sail and Maturin finally freed of his weighty intelligence responsibilities. Do you think this ending was complete?

2. How does Aubrey win the battle with the Dutch ship?

3. Why does Leopard end up too far south?

4. Why is the Leopard outclassed by the Waakzaamheid?

5. La Fayette has a forge but Aubrey cannot in good conscience request a favor--England and America are nearly at war. Likewise, Putnam, La Fayette's master, will not request favors from Aubrey. Do you think it is strange that on an island in the middle of nowhere a ship's captain wouldn't be bound by some rule of hospitality? Why or why not?

6. Why does Aubrey allow Grant and others to leave the ship?

7. What does Aubrey decide to do after missing an island on which to land and who does he bring up as a possible reason for pessimism?

8. Why does Aubrey think the Dutch captain keeps pursuing Leopard? Is this supposition of his confirmed?

9. What danger is the Leopard facing after the battle with the Dutch?

10. While the crew works, Maturin visits a small island in the bay--it is so encumbered of strange life that Maturin christens it Paradise. Why do you think Maturin named the island Paradise considering it is near Antarctica and is probably pretty cold?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In addition to understanding the war in which O'Brian's novels are set, it is quite helpful to have a basic understanding of nautical terminology and the types of ships and their armaments that were used during the early 1800s. Discuss the following:

1. Define ten of the most commonly-used shipboard terms and discuss how those terms are used in Desolation Island.

2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ships used in the early 1800s?

3. How is the British navy organized during this period (early 1800s) and how different do you think it is organized today (including how one rises in rank).

4. Compare/contrast one of the naval battles described in the novel with one from WWII.

Essay Topic 2

Most of the entire series of novels concerning Captain Jack Aubrey takes place during the Napoleonic Wars; therefore understanding the political and social situation during that time helps to a greater understanding and appreciation of this book and others in the series. Discuss the following:

1. Research and write an expository essay about how the Napoleonic Wars begin and end.

2. Research and write an expository essay about the naval aspect of the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and France.

3. Compare/Contrast the importance of the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars to the importance of the British navy during either WWI or WWII.

4. Write an expository essay on how the Napoleonic War affects the social culture of one of the following countries: Britain, France, or Spain.

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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