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 does the narrator say is in short supply on Halloween night?

2. What metaphor does Francis use to describe himself as a ball player?

3. Who does Francis see enter the bathroom with him in Chapter 3?

4. What does Francis say to Rudy when Rudy says that he ain’t dead yet?

5. What does the narrator say was Francis’ relationship with prayer?

Short Essay Questions

1. 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?

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

3. What misfortune besets Helen after she returns to the Mission with Francis and Rudy?

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

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

6. What is the importance of Halloween in the book’s setting?

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

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

9. How did Francis end up killing Harold Allen?

10. What expression does Francis use when something is finally and absolutely concluded?

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

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?

Essay Topic 3

In what ways is Ironweed relevant to contemporary readers? What contemporary issues are in play in the book, and how would the book contribute to contemporary discussion? Cite specific discussions from contemporary sources, and cite specific instances from the book that describe its contemporary relevance.

(see the answer keys)

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