Flash Fiction: Very Short Stories Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

James Thomas (professor)
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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. In thinking about pumpkins, the man thinks about his childhood illness and cans of which chilled fruit?

2. What is the profession of the man's father-in-law?

3. In "Mandy Shupe," a mother tells her daughter a story about Many Shupe, who is a ______.

4. Which facial feature is referenced by the grandmother?

5. Which of the following items is not something the man sees when he looks out the window into the rainy day?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the main issue with Jimmy in the beginning of "Ponderosa?"

2. Why does the girl think the U.S. is being attacked by Russian missiles?

3. What common topic is discussed between the woman and the soldier in "Dish Night?"

4. Why does the girlfriend refuse to return her would-be husband's phone calls?

5. In "The Colonel," what is the situation with the men at dinner?

6. In "Mandy Shupe," a mother tells her young daughter about Mandy Shupe, a Mennonite woman who goes a bit wild. The basic story is told and the mother's purpose for the parable as well as the grown up daughter's reaction explained.

7. What temporarily dissuades the couple from making love in "True Love?"

8. Discuss the man's final decision in "Corporal."

9. What causes the stones to become fearful? What is a distinction of stones?

10. How does the therapist behave in an unprofessional manner?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

"Flash Fiction: Very Short Stories by James Thomas" contains many stories by many different authors. The only criterion is that the story must meet a certain word count, typically around 750 but no more than 1,000. Examine any common threads that are found within the collection. Are there any similar trains of thought, style or format? Review each story with those things in mind and make a list of connecting ties.

Essay Topic 2

here are two poems that deal with trains: "Love Poems" and "The Burlington Northern, Southbound." Discuss the use of trains as imagery and how the inspire each author. Also discuss trains as a metaphor and how they are or are not appropriate to the stories. Research and find other poems using trains, e.g., Alan Ginsberg's "Sunflower Sutra," to compare and contrast. Which is the best use of a train as an inspiration and/or image?

Essay Topic 3

In "The Stones," the old stones have chosen to forget about or cease to talk about their adventures as young stones. Discuss in detail the behavior of the old stones versus the young stones. How have the old stones changed? What is the opinion of the young stones regarding their elders? Compare the attitudes of the old and young stones to grandparents, parents and children. What are the similarities? Does the story help to change your outlook on the opinions and advice of your elders? Explain.

(see the answer keys)

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