Great Short Works of Herman Melville 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. With what weapon does Radney threaten Steelkilt?

2. Why is the narrator not pleased with Bartleby's industriousness?

3. What does the crew decide to do after Steelkilt is flogged?

4. What previous employment had shaped Bartleby?

5. What animal from the islands supplies sailors with food and utensils?

Short Essay Questions

1. What purpose does the circle of listeners serve in "The Town-Ho's Story"?

2. Why does the narrator continue to accept Bartleby's refusals?

3. Why does Melville call Redondo the "aviary of the ocean"?

4. What stylistic devices does Melville use to give the reader the feeling of the rooster's crow in "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo"?

5. Why did the first seven of Steelkilt's men come out of their imprisonment?

6. What does Steelkilt demand to prevent a mutiny?

7. How does the poet Blandmour feel about poverty in "Poor Man's Pudding"?

8. How does the creditor in "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo" torment the narrator?

9. Why does Melville refer to Oberlus as "a creature whom it is religion to detest?"

10. Why did the two remaining followers of Steelkilt each hope to be the first out of the hold?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

When Billy Budd is impressed into the royal navy, the captain of the ship he is leaving says that a former enemy, called Red Whiskers, " . . . now really loves Billy--loves him or is the biggest hypocrite that ever I heard of." Is this an instance of skillful foreshadowing? In your essay, analyze why the captain's lament is or is not an example of Melville's foreshadowing the main conflict in Billy Budd.

Essay Topic 2

Melville states that Moby Dick operates to do the work of God by killing Radney. A Deus ex Machina (god out of the machine), where an outside source ends the conflict between characters, is a literary device often disparaged. In your essay, consider its effectiveness in this instance and in other Melville short stories where this method is employed.

Essay Topic 3

Melville was capable of a wide range of diction, or word choice, ranging from the staccato exclamations of "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo" to the alliterations of "The Encantadas," (an archipelago of aridities), to biblical allusions ("A virtue went out of him . . ." "I became a pillar of salt . . ."). Select one form of diction that impressed you about these stories, show examples of its use, and analyze its effectiveness.

(see the answer keys)

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