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

2. What does Ellison praise about "Primer for White Folks?"

3. Who names Ellison?

4. Who is the editor of "The Primer for White Folks?"

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

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Ellison admire most about "The Primer for White Folks?"

2. In "Richard Wright's blues" how does Ellison describe the blues?

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

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

5. What is the "hidden name" Ellison is referring in the title of his speech to the Library of Congress in 1064?

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

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

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

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

10. Why does Ellison choose to write about Faulkner?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Who is Stephen Crane and why is Ellison so interested in him? What is it about Crane's style of writing that is important to Ellison's thinking about good writing? What does Crane do that makes him unique? Clearly Ellison holds Crane up as a great model for all novelists who follow. Is it Crane's technique, his ability to write in such specific ways, what impresses Ellison or is it Crane's willingness to look into the heart of the American culture and see what is there?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

Ellison poetically describes a lost and lovely world in "The Golden Age, Time Past." Minton's Playhouse is an amalgamation of home, community, the South, and the noisy excitement of New York City. What influence does Henry Minton have upon the jazz musicians he nurtures? What is the atmosphere like? How is creativity nourished?

(see the answer keys)

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