Nightjohn 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 substance does Sarny equate the color of her skin with in Chapter 3?

2. What does Sarny say that the slaves call the master and mistress when they are in the slave quarters and out of hearing in Chapter 2?

3. What does Sarny think about when she finally lays down in bed at the end of Chapter 3?

4. What is the name of the slave that raises Sarny?

5. What does Sarny describe Mammy putting her head into in order to pray in Chapter 2?

Short Essay Questions

1. How is Sarny's relationship with Mammy illustrated in Chapter 1? How does Mammy feel about the other children she cares for?

2. How does John behave toward the other slaves after his arrival in Chapter 3?

3. How does Sarny describe Mammy's method of praying in Chapter 2? Why does Mammy pray this way?

4. How is Sarny's character introduced to the reader in Chapter 1? What does Sarny say brought Nightjohn to her?

5. What does Sarny describe thinking about as the others sleep in the slave quarters at night in Chapter 1?

6. How is John's appearance described when he first arrives at the plantation in Chapter 3?

7. How does the author illustrate Sarny's only encounter with money in Chapter 2?

8. Why were slaves forbidden education historically? How is this depicted in the novel?

9. How would you describe the narrator of the story? Is the narrator directly involved in the action of the narrative?

10. When is the first time that Sarny describes hearing the word "free" in Chapter 2? What were her perceptions of this word?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the author’s dedication in the beginning of the novel and the lives of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. What was Jefferson’s stance regarding slavery in the U.S.? Why did Gary Paulsen dedicate Nightjohn to the memory of Sally Hemings? Why is Sally Hemings significant in American history?

Essay Topic 2

Analyze the character of Sarny as the protagonist and narrator of Nightjohn. How does Sarny describe her role in the story in Chapter 1? What aspects of Sarny’s character stand out for you as a reader? How old is Sarny’s character when she is first introduced? How does Sarny’s character evolve in the course of the story?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the theme of education in Nightjohn. What is the importance and/or the danger of reading for the slaves, according to John? Historically, how accurate is John’s perception? Does the author present a favorable view of education? Why or why not?

(see the answer keys)

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