Shadow and Act 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. According to Ellison what does the term "the grays" mean?

2. What Bible myth is referred to in "The World and the Jug?"

3. What book does Hemingway believe all modern American fiction sprang from?

4. What does Ellison believe is the true "Negro experience?"

5. What does Ellison say the greatest difficulty for the Negro writer is?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Ellison find so remarkable about Crane?

2. Though "Black Boy" presents a brutal and violent world, what else does it manage to convey about the young Wright?

3. When Ellison accepts the American National Book Award for "The Invisible Man" what does he say that the award is recognizing?

4. What is the common image of the Negro in contemporary literature according to Ellison?

5. What does Ellison critique about the authors included in the Primer?

6. Why does Ellison choose to write about Faulkner?

7. What is the difference between the way Hyman and Ellison view "the darky" entertainer?

8. What does the phrase "The World and the Jug" refers to?

9. What was Ellison's writing process for "Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke?"

10. How does Ellison leave the rather bitter dialogue with Howe?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The final essay in the book was never published. It is a book review of the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal who was brought in by the Carnegie Foundation to study the "Negro problem." What is Ellison's primary reaction to the book? What is positive in Myrdal's assessment? What does Ellison object to? Why do you think the review was never published?

Essay Topic 2

"The Way It Is" is the earliest example of Ellison's writing which appears in "Shadow and Act." In what ways is it different from the other essays? Do you see the beginnings of Ellison's philosophy and understanding it? If no dates were show, do you think it would have been clear that this was an early work? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 3

In "Hidden Name and Complex Fate" Ellison reveals that it was his father, who died when Ellison was three years old, who chose for him the name of a famous white poet and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and in doing so cast upon him a complex fate. What was that fate and how did it slowly reveal itself through Ellison's life? Why was it such a struggle to come to peace with? Why was it such a blessing and a curse?

(see the answer keys)

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