Pale Fire Test | Final 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 word does Shade claim is incorrect in its meaning?

2. What does Gradus bring Oswin Bretwit?

3. On what date does John Shade compose lines 797-809?

4. Kinbote reflects on the absurdity of what?

5. Why does Kinbote think Russians are gloomy?

Short Essay Questions

1. Give a brief account of the events involving Disa and King Charles after the revolution.

2. How does Kinbote respond when a professor tells him he looks like King Charles? Why might he react that way?

3. What is significant about the way Shade relates his name to the word "ombre" a French word that connotes shadows and darkness?

4. How does Gradus learn the location of the king?

5. How does Kinbote portray Hazel, and the scene in the barn?

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

7. What does Kinbote write about in the commentary as the poem addresses Hazel's death?

8. What is ironic about Kinbote criticizing Shade for using a title from another work for one of his own books?

9. When does Kinbote finally merge with King Charles as written in the Commentary?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

Compare the way Charles Kinbote portrays himself vs. the way he is viewed by others. Based on his actions, how would you describe the "real" Charles Kinbote? Based on your description of Kinbote, and the difference in the way he is perceived by others compared to his view of himself, write an essay commenting on Nabokov's choice to have a person like this narrate the story instead of writing the novel with a third-person omniscient narrator describing Kinbote, his treatment of "Pale Fire" and his relationships with the other characters in the novel.

(see the answer keys)

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