On Killing Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Dave Grossman (author)
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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. According to Grossman in Chapter 7, how long can guilt over killing last?

2. Which Roman leader and writer does Grossman quote in Chapter 4?

3. How many tours in Vietnam did the vet quoted in Chapter 7 serve before realizing that the killing urge was consuming him?

4. In Chapter 7, Grossman says what has made killing easier for soldiers?

5. Why does fight-or-flight not come into play in a battle situation?

Short Essay Questions

1. What inefficiency of edged-weapon combat does Grossman reveal in Chapter 5?

2. What assertion regarding military psychiatrists does Grossman make at the end of Chapter 8?

3. What role does enemy morale play in the choice to kill?

4. According to Grossman in Chapter 4, how do soldiers deal with guilt and horror in combat?

5. What does hard-to-soft mean?

6. How does Grossman use his distance-guilt corollary to explain the oppression of the poor in Chapter 1?

7. At the beginning of the book, what personal prejudices does Grossman admit to?

8. What is surprising about the study cited in Chapter 1 regarding what compels soldiers to shoot?

9. Describe the Lost Battalion's experience behind lines.

10. How was the Roman centurion model more effective than the Greek phalanx, according to Grossman?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In the first section of ON KILLING, the author argues that the soldier has more options on a battlefield than simply fight or flight. In an essay, discuss these options and particularly the most common one taken: posture. Firstly, why is fight-or-flight not a legitimate choice in a fight between two humans? What other two options are open to humans in this case? What makes posturing such an attractive option, and how has the development of firearms only improved a soldier's ability to posture?

Essay Topic 2

At one point in ON KILLING, Grossman discusses the three external concerns that affect a combatant's choice to kill. Write an essay analyzing these three concerns. W hat is the essence of each factor? What gives it its power over the potential killer? How effective is it in catalyzing the killing and in mitigating the guilt that follows? Cite an example of this type of factor that is used in the book.

Part 1) Voice of Authority

Part 2) Group Absolution

Part 3) Attractiveness of the Target

Essay Topic 3

Throughout the book, Grossman has argues that conditioning has been the key to increasing shooting rates in combat zones. It bypasses the conscious mind's inclination to avoid killing. Write a three-part essay analyzing the types of conditioning used in a military context:

Part 1) What is standard conditioning, and how is it connected to Pavlov's work with dogs? How does this type of conditioning manifest itself in military training? What specific defenses is it trying to overcome? What is its goal?

Part 2) What is operant conditioning, and how is it connected to Skinner's work with rats? To what extent is military operant training more subtly employed than traditional conditioning? How does this conditioning alter soldier behavior in chaotic combat?

Part 3) In military emulation of a role model, who is the standard soldier's role model? What does this role model represent to the soldier, and how does he wish to emulate him? What aspects of aggression and manhood does this affect?

(see the answer keys)

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