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 does the item that Gross is carrying in Act 1, Scene 5 symbolize?

2. Who does Helena introduce herself as?

3. What is the underlying message about Stroll's position?

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

5. What does Maria offer Helena in Act 1, scene 3?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does the fire extinguisher symbolize?

2. What is the recurring theme that Pillar's meetings bring back and why do they upset Ballas?

3. 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?

4. What does the number of students in Lear's class in Act 2, Scene 11 say about his lecture topic, and the state of the company in general?

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

6. Why does Gross report to the Training Center in Act 1, Scene 5, and what is he carrying?

7. What is the reason Lear gives for a need of the new language, Ptydepe?

8. What do Hana's habits and actions symbolize?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

As the play ends, there are two possible outcomes for Gross based on the decision he makes. Use the following format to present a case for both. Make sure to include examples from the play to support your cases.

1) First, explain why Gross' decision means that he will most likely never be able to make a difference at the company, and eventually might even stop trying altogether.

2) Second, explain why Gross' decision means that he will continue to fight from within the company, and eventually make a difference by stopping the bureaucracy, and gaining his independence in the process.

3) Finally, explain what will happen in your opinion. Which one of the above cases do you agree with and why?

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

Many characters in the play are given names to illustrate their specific place in the story, in the company, and in Havel's central theme in general. Sometimes these names are also references to other people or things.

1) Choose at least four characters and describe in detail why their names accomplish what Havel sets out to show with each of them. Use examples from the play to provide the reasoning for how you draw your conclusions.

2) Do you think that Havel also chose these names to add a comedic element to the characters as well? Why or why not? If that is the case, how does he achieve this?

(see the answer keys)

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