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. On what day did John Shade begin composing his poem "Pale Fire?"

2. According to Kinbote, where did Sybil Shade relocate to upon John Shade's death?

3. What animal did Shade's parents study?

4. Which of the following has Shade renounced?

5. Of the following, who is not mentioned in the first Canto?

Short Essay Questions

1. Briefly describe the IPH.

2. Describe John Shade's writing process.

3. Give examples from the text of reasons that the Extremists are unable to find King Charles once he escapes.

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

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

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

7. Provide an example or two of the reflection motif found between the commentary to lines 131 and the commentary to lines 162.

8. How is Kinbote's birthday gift for Shade representative of Kinbote's commentary of the poem?

9. What is significant about the bird in Canto One?

10. Briefly describe Fleur.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Compare Kinbote's actions to those of Gradus. How are these two characters similar?

Why do you think Kinbote describes Gradus the way he does in the commentary to Line 171?

Do you find this description ironic? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 2

Describe the way Nabokov uses flashbacks in the novel Pale Fire. How many instances are there? How do flashbacks help propel the plot? How would this story have been different if it were written in present tense?

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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