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. Of what faith is the narrator's family?

2. What kind of grades does the young narrator make?

3. What is the title of Chapter 2?

4. What was in the letter that Ronald Nimkin left as his final words to his mother?

5. What does the narrator resent being sent to buy at the store for his mother?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. About what do the narrator's parents coddle him regarding his knee in Chapter 4?

3. Why does the young Alex believe he has cancer?

4. What is the story the narrator tells in the beginning of Chapter 4? Why does he do what he does in this story?

5. Who is the shikse who came to the young Alex's family's home? Why?

6. What were the narrator's father's ambitions for him growing up?

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

8. Where does Alex's family move during his childhood? When does this happen?

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

10. What does the narrator speak of regarding his humiliations with his mother as a child in Chapter 3?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What does the narrator say regarding the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud? Why is this relevant to the novel? What chapter is named after the writings of Freud? Why?

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the phrase "Living a Jewish Joke." How does this resonate as an important element of Portnoy's Complaint? How does the ending of the novel revisit this line?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the story of The Monkey. How does the timeline of actual events differ with the narrative of the protagonist? What does this inform us of Alex's character?

(see the answer keys)

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