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

2. A fellow-professor calls Charles Kinbote by what nickname?

3. When did John Shade begin Canto Two?

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

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

Short Essay Questions

1. What do we learn about King Charles X in Canto Two?

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

3. What are two major criticisms John Shade has of his students? How is this ironic?

4. Briefly describe Fleur.

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

6. Briefly describe the supernatural occurrences in Canto Two.

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

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

9. What are some ways Kinbote tries to make the poem be about himself as opposed to Shade's childhood?

10. What is Kinbote's secret?

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

How does Nabokov use references of other literary works in his novel Pale Fire? Give as many examples of references to other works as you can from the text, and describe what Nabokov accomplishes by including them in the novel.

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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