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. What is the Negro child taught to see the white man as?

2. How old is Stephen Crane when he dies?

3. Where might Crane have gotten information about the Civil War?

4. What does the phrase "to finger its jagged grain and to transcend it" refer to?

5. What type of literature does Ellison believe Wright's novel "Black Boy" is?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why was the young Ellison drawn to reading?

2. What, for Ellison, is the great shaping event of twentieth-century fiction?

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

4. What does Ellison tell us about the matriarch, Mrs. Jackson, in "The Way It Is."

5. What captures the attention of many critics about "Blues People."

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

7. What type of food is served at Minton's?

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

9. Why does the Carnegie Foundation bring in a European (Swedish) economist to conduct a study of Negro persons in America?

10. How does the early film "Birth of the Nation" portray Negro persons?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

"Brave Words for a Startling Occasion" is Ellison's acceptance speech when he received the American National Book award. Why was it, for Ellison, a startling occasion? What about his speech is brave? What is the overall theme of this speech?

Essay Topic 3

In the four articles on musicians written for the Saturday Review, Ellison explores the development of each individual artist. What do Mahalia Jackson, Charlie Parker, Charlie Christian and Jimmy Rushing have in common? Why does Ellison choose both nationally famous and locally famous musicians to write about? How are the careers and styles of the four musicians different?

(see the answer keys)

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