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. Who is Stroll?

2. Who receives an A, scoring better than Gross, on their knowledge of Ptydepe?

3. What does Gross' lack of Ptydepe knowledge signal, according to Lear?

4. What do Stroll and Savant remark about Maria?

5. What does Helena's constant need for Maria to help her make coffee symbolize?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does the introduction of Ptydepe signal in the play as it pertains to Gross and his position within the company?

2. What explanation does Ballas offer to Gross and what position does he offer him?

3. After all of the speculation throughout the play, what are the contents of Gross' memo revealed to be, and what effect does this have on him?

4. In the final scene of the play, what theme is brought to the forefront and what is the message Havel delivers?

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 is the game that Helena plays with Gross and what does it symbolize?

7. What are the noticeable habits of Hana, the secretary, that are displayed in the beginning of the play?

8. What is it about Gross' personality that makes him susceptible to Ballas' manipulation?

9. What significant discovery does Ballas make at the end of Act 2, Scene 7?

10. What does Helena's request for Maria to help her make coffee symbolize?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Thumb is an essential part of the bureaucratic system, even though he seems largely unaware of it. What is his specific role in the play and in the larger theme of the story? Which character traits allow him to fulfill that role? What are the more serious dangers that Thumb represents a warning against?

Essay Topic 2

At a few key times in the play, sparks of hope present themselves. This is what keeps the audience hoping that Gross can turn things around, and it is also what makes them believe it may be possible.

1) Describe some examples of hope that Gross does not see or recognize at the time they are presented to him. What is the irony of this? What does it say about Gross' character?

2) The character of Maria is consistently a main source of hope for Gross. Why do you think Gross is inclined to receive positive messages from her more than from other characters? What is it about Maria's personality that allows her to break through the bureaucracy and provide the hope Gross desperately needs?

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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