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 gets quizzed along with Gross on their knowledge of Ptydepe?

2. What point is the author trying to make by having Hana make separate trips for food?

3. According to Gross and Hana's discussion, what is strange about Ptydepe, the new language being introduced?

4. Where does Act 1, Scene 3 take place?

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

Short Essay Questions

1. As illustrated in Scene 8, what is necessary for a bureaucracy to have power over its workers, and what is this an analogy for?

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

3. What is ironic about the way the conversation between Gross and Ballas starts and the way it concludes, specifically concerning Gross' job?

4. What is Lear lecturing about during Act 2, Scene 11, and why does it cause Gross to stop and listen?

5. What does Gross' signature of the Ptydepe authorization set into motion?

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

7. How does Lear explain the complexities of Ptydepe to the class?

8. What events lead Gross to speak out against the technological advances that are affecting humanity?

9. What are some examples in Scene 6 of Gross being continually kept of the loop?

10. How is Lear's explanation of Ptydepe used to display the arrogance and self-indulgent actions of bureaucrats?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The crucial moment of the second part of Act 9 is when the memo is finally translated for Gross. The contents of it are ironic, comedic, and inspiring all at the same time. Explain them in detail, describing why and how all three themes (irony, comedy, and inspiration) are represented. Also, explain what the significance is of Maria being the one to translate it. What does that add to the message for Gross?

Essay Topic 2

A recurring theme that Havel uses through his characters is the "spin" that they provide in order to justify their actions and in some cases, hide their motives.

1) Describe in detail how Lear uses spin to legitimatize Ptydepe. Why does he use this technique when introducing and explaining the new language? What is the overall purpose for his deception?

2) Besides the example of Lear's lectures, what other time in the play was spin used to justify something or as a means to an end? Which character used it? Again, why was this tactic chosen for that specific situation?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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