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. In lines 936 and 937 of "Pale Fire" the phrase "I plow Old Zembla's fields" is used by John Shade as part of a metaphor for what literal activity?

2. Which of the following is not mentioned by Shade in Canto One?

3. On what day did John Shade begin composing his poem "Pale Fire?"

4. Of the following, which has been added to Shade's childhood home?

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

Short Essay Questions

1. How does John Shade understand life?

2. Briefly describe John Shade's vision of the after-life.

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

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

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

6. What is Kinbote's secret?

7. Briefly describe King Alfin the Vague.

8. How are Gradus and Kinbote similar?

9. What clues do you see that Charles Kinbote may not be what he seems?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Make a list of names Charles Kinbote attributes to people and places in Zembla.

What do you notice about these names?

What do these names tell us about Kinbote, and potentially about Zembla?

Why do you think Nabokov chose to name these places the way he did?

Essay Topic 2

Throughout the novel, the game of chess reappears in various scenes, and is played by a variety of characters.

Cite specific examples Nabokov uses of the game of chess throughout the novel.

Why do you think Nabokov chooses to incorporate the game of chess into the novel the way he does?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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