The Memorandum 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 is the overall point that Havel is making in Act 1, Scene 5?

2. Who is revealed to be the person that authorized the use of Ptydepe?

3. Where is Ballas located at the end of Act 1, Scene 4?

4. What does the clerk's character symbolize?

5. Where does Scene 2 take place?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe the difference between Thumb and Gross as the characters are portrayed in Act 1, Scene 2.

2. What do the cigars symbolize and how are they used to introduce the Staff Watcher's place in the play?

3. What do we notice right away about the relationship between Ballas and Pillar?

4. How is Gross manipulated again in Act 1, Scene 5?

5. What is it about the letter Gross receives that gets his attention, why is it significant to the play, and how does Gross react to it?

6. What are some more examples of Ballas' parallel experience to Gross' time as Managing Director that are given in the first part of Act 2, Scene 9?

7. What is it about Gross' life that leads him to believe he might not be able to "fight for his innocence?" What reasoning does he give Maria?

8. How does Gross justify his situation to himself towards the end of Act 1, Scene 4?

9. Who is Thumb and what does the character represent?

10. What does Havel use the reference of a theater to symbolize?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Havel introduces many forms of symbolism by using objects to illustrate his point.

1) Choose three different objects that are a form of symbolism and describe in detail what they represent. Include how they are used in the storyline and why they are effective. What is Havel trying to tell the audience with each of them?

2) Out of the examples you chose in the first section, are there any that are more important to the plot? What makes them more important? How do they fit into the overall theme and main point of the play?

Essay Topic 2

In Scene 5 of Act 1, an important point is made with the correlation between Gross' pursuit of knowledge (the translation of the memo) and his lack of knowledge. This creates a never ending circle where no logical way out exits for Gross.

1) Explain in detail what the significance of the knowledge is to the play in general, and in the scene specifically. Also, describe the irony of Gross' situation. What does the fact that he cannot answer the questions correctly symbolize? His lack of answers also displays a lack of something else. What is it and is why is it important to the point Havel is making about bureaucracy overall?

2) Staying with the theme of knowledge, which characters are allowed to have it? Do they really possess it, or is it only a perception portrayed to the characters that are kept from knowledge? Why is this necessary for the people to retain their power?

Essay Topic 3

In the beginning of the play, Ptydepe is introduced as the new language of the office. This starts the chain of events that lead to many discoveries for the characters and the audience.

1) What does Ptydepe represent within the context of the play? What is it a symbol for in the bureaucracy and why does it cause Gross to become so frustrated?

2) How does Ptydepe tie in with the larger theme of the play, specifically as it relates to the dangers of a socialist/communist system of government? Why do you think Havel chose a language to illustrate his point?

(see the answer keys)

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