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 distresses Ellison most about the essay "Black Boys and Native Sons?"

3. What does Mark Twain do with the character of Jim that breaks through the black face minstrel tradition?

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

5. What type of jug does Ellison believe young Negro writers, such as himself, are in?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What were some of the catastrophic events which occurred in Wright's life?

3. Why does Ellison consider Stephen Crane to be such a great artist?

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

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

6. What is Ellison's basic quarrel with Hyman?

7. Who was it that suggested to Ellison that he review a book and write a short story?

8. Where do Ellison and Hyman divide in their understanding of black face minstrel performance?

9. Why does Ellison choose to write about Faulkner?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In the film review "The Shadow and the Act" Ellison criticizes Hollywood's portrayal of Negro Americans as "Shadow," by which he means illusion. The act refers to reality, what truly is, which Hollywood shows little interest in revealing. Describe Ellison's theory and show how he uses the example of film to reveal what is for him an overall American habit of focusing on illusion rather than reality.

Essay Topic 2

In "Living with Music" Ellison literally finds himself overwhelmed by the group of people who live around him. His struggle to find his own peace within a larger and very noisy society is a metaphor for the way he sees the individual constantly struggling against the group in life. How does he find peace? What method does he use to carve out his space and literally "be heard?"

Essay Topic 3

The Lafargue Psychiatric Clinic is profiled with a sense of gratitude and anger. What is Ellison angry about and why? As much as he admires the clinic, why does he feel it should not be necessary? What is at the source of mental suffering for many persons in the Harlem community?

(see the answer keys)

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