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. How does Ellison start writing?

2. Who is Stanley Edgar Hyman?

3. What does Ellison say the "Negro problem" actually is?

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

5. What specific folk art form does "Black Boy" reflect?

Short Essay Questions

1. As a child Ellison imagined himself as a "Renaissance man." What does that mean?

2. How does Ellison describe Myrdal's study of the Negro?

3. What does Ellison believe is the primary American theme in both life and literature?

4. What writers are at issue in the exchange between Irving Howe and Ralph Ellison?

5. Where is "Minton's Playhouse" located?

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

7. What were the two greatest influences upon Crane's life, in Ellison's estimation?

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

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

10. What does the second half of the title "Hidden Names and Complex Fate" refer to?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

In "Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke" Ellison challenges Stanley Hyman's assertion the "smart man playing dumb" role is primarily Negro. What does Ellison propose is the true case? What examples does he use to argue that this "joke" is much broader than Negro culture? How does this understanding fit with the larger theme in Ellison's work of the relationship between Negro culture and American culture?

Essay Topic 2

In "The Art of Fiction: An Interview" Ellison explores the relationship between art and protest. What does Ellison believe, for him, writing fiction is? Is social comment or protest part of his work at all? If so, how does he see his particular style of writing as contributing to positive social change?

Essay Topic 3

"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?

(see the answer keys)

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