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

2. Which of the following best describes a recurring theme in the first Canto?

3. Who is the previous inhabitant of Charles Kinbote's house?

4. While he makes his way through the mountains, King Charles stops to spend the night in which of the following places?

5. Charles Kinbote "mercifully " attributes this name to one professor, perhaps due to his green jacket.

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

5. How does John Shade understand life?

6. Briefly describe King Alfin the Vague.

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

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

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

10. What are a few of John Shade's pet peeves?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

Charles Kinbote is an unreliable narrator.

Cite specific examples of how Vladimir Nabokov portrays Kinbote as an unreliable narrator.

Do you think this tactic was effective for the story? Why or why not?

How would the novel, Pale Fire, have been different if Kinbote was a reliable narrator?

Why did Nabokov choose to portray Kinbote the way he did?

Essay Topic 3

In the commentary to Line 171 Gradus, the assassin, is said to have had a job at a glass factory.

Could this be a figment of Charles Kinbote's imagination, and if so why would Kinbote make up such a job for the assassin?

Why do you think Nabokov chose to have Kinbote give Gradus this job?

Why does Nabokov choose to have Kinbote portray Gradus as a failure at this job?

Does it matter if Gradus really had such a job?

Use specific examples from the text to support your claims.

(see the answer keys)

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