Portnoy's Complaint 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. How does the narrator's mother say that Melvin Weiner gave himself colitis?

2. What does the narrator say his desires are in Chapter 4?

3. What does the narrator's mother tell him to give to his father in Chapter 4?

4. Of what faith is the narrator's family?

5. What is the term used for a non-Jewish girl?

Short Essay Questions

1. Who does the main character think all of his teachers are in disguise? Why?

2. What does the narrator's father urge him to take lessons in? Why?

3. What does the narrator's mother do to him when he is "bad?" How does he react?

4. What resentments does the narrator recall following the family's move from Jersey City?

5. What does the narrator suspect about the shikse who came to his family's house? Why?

6. What story does the narrator tell about Ronald Nimkin?

7. What frustration does the narrator express in Chapter 4 about his job and his parents' view of it?

8. What story does Alex tell about his mother and lobster?

9. Where does the narrator's father work? What line of business is he in? Where is his "route?"

10. How did the narrator's father feel about his job? How did he express his feelings to his family?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss "Stream of Consciousness" as a stylistic device in the novel. How does this impact the reader's understanding? How does this affect the flow of time?

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the theme of Sexual Obsession in Portnoy's Complaint. How does this theme intertwine with the other themes presented? How does this aspect of the narrator's personality drive his action?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the different types of conflict in Portnoy's Complaint. What is the predominant conflict of the novel? What are some of the conflicts the narrator describes between himself and others?

(see the answer keys)

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