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. What is the title of Chapter 3?

2. How old is the narrator when he pleasures himself on a public bus?

3. Who is the shikse who comes to dinner with the narrator's father?

4. What is the narrator's cousin's name who lives in Newark?

5. What does the narrator say is "very funny on the stage--but not to live it"?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does the narrator say he grew up to NOT be, at least, in Chapter 4? Why?

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

3. What body-related incidents does the narrator recall in Chapter 3?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

What are the predominant metaphors in Portnoy's Complaint? How does the author "set up" these metaphors? How do these major metaphors recur in the text? Define "metaphor" in your answer.

(see the answer keys)

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