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 is Francis guilty about, when he talks to Gerald?

2. What role had Dick Doolan played in Francis’ life?

3. What does Helen say will happen to Francis if he leaves her on the street?

4. What is Francis’ reaction when Rudy tells him he is frivolous?

5. Who was the first man Francis Phelan killed?

Short Essay Questions

1. How did Francis’ father die?

2. Describe the environment of the Gilded Cage.

3. What is Reverend Chester’s policy about drunks, and what effect does it have?

4. Describe the relationship between Francis and Rudy.

5. Describe the presence of the dead in Francis’ present day experience, after shoveling dirt at the cemetery.

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

7. What is Rowdy Dick Doolan’s role in Francis’ story?

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

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

10. How is Francis feeling at the beginning of the novel?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Use this book as a meditation on the value of a five-star rating system. Is a five-star system sufficient to a book like this? Would you need to have sub-topics for the rating system, for plot, characterization, language, etc? What other sub-topics would you need? What value or importance gets lost in a five-star scale? Design a scale that would be better for this book.

Essay Topic 3

The ending of the novel is ambiguous, but there are clues throughout the novel about whether it might be read optimistically or pessimistically. What indications does Kennedy give the reader about what to make of the ending? What conclusion do you come to about the conclusion?

(see the answer keys)

This section contains 970 words
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