Pale Fire 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. "Pale Fire" is broken up into how many cantos?

2. Who sets up John Shade's daughter on a blind date?

3. What is the name of the secret group that sends an assassin after King Charles?

4. During the forward Charles Kinbote oddly notes that he is distracted by who/what?

5. How does King Charles flee Zembla?

Short Essay Questions

1. Briefly describe Fleur.

2. What do we learn about John Shade's Aunt Maud in Canto One?

3. What is significant about the bird in Canto One?

4. How does Nabokov immediately create an artificial reality in the foreword to the novel Pale Fire?

5. How is Kinbote's birthday gift for Shade representative of Kinbote's commentary of the poem?

6. Give examples from the text of reasons that the Extremists are unable to find King Charles once he escapes.

7. Provide an example or two of the reflection motif found between the commentary to lines 131 and the commentary to lines 162.

8. Give some examples of translation as a theme in Canto One.

9. Describe John Shade's daughter.

10. How does Kinbote characterize his relationship with John Shade?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

On page 156, in the commentary to Line 172, John Shade bemoans the way most of his students read and interpret literature.

Relate Shade's thoughts in the final paragraph on page 156 to the way Kinbote interprets the poem "Pale Fire."

How does Kinbote respond to Shade's commentary?

What does this tell us about Kinbote?

Essay Topic 2

Describe the way Nabokov uses flashbacks in the novel Pale Fire. How many instances are there? How do flashbacks help propel the plot? How would this story have been different if it were written in present tense?

Essay Topic 3

On pages 100-107 in the commentary on line 71: Parents, Kinbote describes King Alfin the Vague.

Compare what is known of Kinbote to this point in the story with his portrayal of King Alfin.

What function or functions does King Alfin serve?

(see the answer keys)

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