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. Which of the following best describes King Alfin the Vague?

2. How do the Shade's spend the evening of their daughter's blind date?

3. In Canto Two we find that Shade's daughter had been vacationing in what faraway place?

4. Kinbote is steadfast in his assertion that "Pale Fire" was intended to be how many lines long?

5. Which best describes Kinbote's reason for rejecting the offer by the first potential publisher of "Pale Fire"?

Short Essay Questions

1. How does John Shade understand life?

2. Briefly describe John and Sybil Shade's relationship.

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

4. Does it surprise you that John Shade renounces religion yet he wants to believe in the after-life?

5. Briefly describe the supernatural occurrences in Canto Two.

6. How does Charles Kinbote portray himself in the foreword?

7. Describe John Shade's daughter.

8. What events lead to the death of John Shade's daughter?

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

10. Briefly describe Fleur.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Cite specific examples of supernatural events in the novel Pale Fire.

How does Nabokov incorporate both real and phony supernatural events (such as fake seances) into the novel?

Why do you think he chooses to handle these events in such a manner?

What does this accomplish?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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