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

2. What does Kinbote give John Shade for his birthday?

3. Who gives Kinbote information about John Shade's daughter?

4. What does Kinbote want us to believe was the catalyst for John Shade's choice to set "Pale Fire" during the winter months?

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

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What is odd about the way Kinbote tells the story of Gradus?

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

4. How does Kinbote summarize Canto Four?

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

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

7. Briefly recount Gradus' experience on the day he killed Shade, as told by Kinbote.

8. Briefly compare Kinbote's Zemblan assassin story with what you perceive as the reality of the situation.

9. Give some examples of translation as a theme in Canto One.

10. What happens when Gradus and his commanders try to send coded messages?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

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.

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the assonance and consonance in the poem "Pale Fire." How does Nabokov use these literary tools throughout the poem?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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