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. Canto Four contains a metaphor comparing this activity to John Shade's writing process?

2. What was John Shade's "first book" as mentioned in Canto Four?

3. What book does King Charles find on his way out of the castle?

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

5. Who sets up John Shade's daughter on a blind date?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

5. What are some early examples of reflection as a theme in the poem "Pale Fire?"

6. Describe John Shade's daughter.

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

Using specific examples from the novel, compile the verses of poetry that were omitted from the poem "Pale Fire."

Why do you think Nabokov chooses to include these verses in the novel, but not the poem?

(see the answer keys)

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