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 the previous inhabitant of Charles Kinbote's house?

2. John Shade's aunt is best described as what?

3. The first draft of "Pale Fire" was composed on a series of index cards. How many index cards did the author use?

4. 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?

5. Who is King Alfin the Vague's son?

Short Essay Questions

1. Briefly describe King Alfin the Vague.

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

3. How is Kinbote critical of Professor Hurley?

4. Describe John Shade's writing process.

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

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

7. Briefly describe the IPH.

8. Briefly describe the supernatural occurrences in Canto Two.

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Compare the way Charles Kinbote portrays himself vs. the way he is viewed by others. Based on his actions, how would you describe the "real" Charles Kinbote? Based on your description of Kinbote, and the difference in the way he is perceived by others compared to his view of himself, write an essay commenting on Nabokov's choice to have a person like this narrate the story instead of writing the novel with a third-person omniscient narrator describing Kinbote, his treatment of "Pale Fire" and his relationships with the other characters in the novel.

Essay Topic 2

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 3

In the foreword, Kinbote suggests that the novel be read in a unique way.

How does he feel the novel should be read?

Why does he think it should be read this way?

What are your immediate thoughts on the narrator after he suggests this?

Why do you think Nabokov chooses to have Kinbote make this suggestion?

(see the answer keys)

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