Ironweed Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

William Kennedy
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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 do Francis and the others do with Sandra?

2. How do Francis and Rudy characterize themselves?

3. What makes it possible for Francis and Rudy to eat at the Mission?

4. What accusation does the ghost of the first man Francis killed accuse Francis of?

5. Who was the first man Francis Phelan killed?

Short Essay Questions

1. Where did Francis Phelan’s family lie in the pecking order of the cemetery?

2. Describe the brotherhood Francis and Rudy share.

3. Describe the relationship between Francis and Rudy.

4. How did Francis end up with a job shoveling dirt at the cemetery?

5. Describe the environment of the Gilded Cage.

6. When Helen says that she won’t go back to Finny’s car, she says that she might call her people. What is the irony in this?

7. What state is Sandra in when Francis, Helen and Rudy and Pee Wee return from the Gilded Cage?

8. Describe Francis and Helen’s visit to Jack and Clara’s flat.

9. What effect is created by the author’s sophisticated vocabulary?

10. What kinship does Francis have with the Phelan brothers?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What is the genre of Ironweed? What type of story is it, and how does it resist categorization? What kinds of evidence does William Kennedy give you, as a reader, for placing the novel in a genre category? Using examples from the text, make an argument for what category of novel Ironweed belongs to.

Essay Topic 2

When is Ironweed most itself? What is its characteristic passage, or moment? What makes that moment or passage the most representative of the book as a whole? Are there any places where the book seems to depart from its typical self, as if to become a different book?

Essay Topic 3

Is Francis redeemed by the events described in Ironweed, or is he left unredeemed? What obstacles to his redemption has he overcome? What obstacles remain? What spiritual state does Francis aspire to, and what does he do to attain that state?

(see the answer keys)

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