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. What did the failure of his invention do for the uncle in "The Happy Failure?"

2. How does Melville describe pelicans?

3. What is unusual about the pork at the Coulters' dinner table?

4. What do Steelkilt's three remaining conspirators decide to do to save themselves?

5. What does the narrator of "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo?" believe the rooster's crow is saying?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What skills are necessary for a scrivener?

3. Why does the narrator say that pity turns into repulsion?

4. What words does the narrator use to describe Bartleby when he first meets him?

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

6. How is the accuracy of copy verified by scriveners?

7. What superstition do sailors have about the tortoises in "The Encantadas"?

8. Why does Melville believe that American poor suffer more than European poor?

9. What does the narrator say happens to one in command who discovers a subordinate who is "significantly his superior"?

10. What does the author of "Poor Man's Pudding" and "Rich Man's Crumbs" pray that Heaven will save him from?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

A recurring theme in Melville's stories is the difference between appearance and reality. Choose a character such as Claggart, who appears to have only sterling qualities but is evil in his heart or a setting such as the mountain home in "The Piazza," which seems at first to be like a fairyland, to analyze the point Melville is making.

Essay Topic 2

Several of the stories in this collection deal with relationships between men and women. Using at least two stories as a basis, evaluate Melville's understanding of the status of women in his society and culture. Did he agree with, condemn, or remain neutral about the rights of women?

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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