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 pair best describe the prominent motifs of the first Canto?

2. Queen Blenda's favorite hobby is ______ .

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

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

5. Kinbote notes that the poem alludes to what fictional character?

Short Essay Questions

1. How are Gradus and Kinbote similar?

2. Cite an early clue that Charles Kinbote is an unreliable narrator.

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

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

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

6. Briefly describe the IPH.

7. Briefly describe Fleur.

8. How does Kinbote characterize his relationship with John Shade?

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

10. How does John Shade understand life?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

On pages 100-107 in the commentary on line 71: Parents, Kinbote describes King Alfin the Vague.

Compare what is known of Kinbote to this point in the story with his portrayal of King Alfin.

What function or functions does King Alfin serve?

Essay Topic 3

At what point in the novel did you suspect Charles Kinbote was not mentally sound?

How does his dementia progress throughout the novel?

How does his grasp of reality change the way you perceive the events of the novel?

Do you think Zembla is a real place in the world created by Nabokov in Pale Fire, or a figment of Charles Kinbote's imagination?

(see the answer keys)

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