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. Who is King Alfin the Vague's son?

2. Who or what does John Shade claim to see in his near-death experience?

3. When did John Shade meet his wife?

4. What event causes John Shade to have a vision of the afterlife?

5. Kinbote notes that the poem alludes to what fictional character?

Short Essay Questions

1. Cite an early clue that Charles Kinbote is an unreliable narrator.

2. List a few possible motivations for Shade's desire to learn more about the after-life.

3. What was the original use of the secret passageway in the Zemblan castle? Where does it lead?

4. What are two major criticisms John Shade has of his students? How is this ironic?

5. Describe John Shade's writing process.

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

7. Briefly describe the IPH.

8. Briefly describe Fleur.

9. What does John Shade ponder in the beginning of Canto Two?

10. How does John Shade describe himself as a youth in Canto One?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Using specific examples from the book, describe how Nabokov uses color and climate to describe the setting and characters in Pale Fire, both in the poem and in the commentary.

Do you think this is effective? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 2

How does Nabokov use references of other literary works in his novel Pale Fire? Give as many examples of references to other works as you can from the text, and describe what Nabokov accomplishes by including them in the novel.

Essay Topic 3

Compare Kinbote's actions to those of Gradus. How are these two characters similar?

Why do you think Kinbote describes Gradus the way he does in the commentary to Line 171?

Do you find this description ironic? Why or why not?

(see the answer keys)

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