Silk Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Alessandro Baricco
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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 many silk eggs can a person hold in their hand?

2. Who bands together to pay for Joncour's expedition to Japan?

3. On what ship did Joncour sail to Egypt?

4. When people ask Joncour about Africa, what does he say?

5. What does Joncour give to Helene when he returns from Japan on his first trip?

Short Essay Questions

1. After Joncour is given the note, he stops for a moment on his way out of town when leaving for home. Why does he stop? What is he doing? What is he thinking? What message is he trying to convey?

2. What is Madame Blanche's calling card? What does she give the men she sleeps with?

3. Why are the silkworms of Japan not affected by disease? What is their history of trade?

4. Why does Baldabiou share the secrets of silk? What does this say about Baldabiou?

5. Why does Joncour arrive in Hara Kei's village on foot? What message is he sending to the mistress?

6. After his travels to Africa, how does Joncour describe his trip when someone asks? Why does he not give a better description?

7. Describe how silk eggs hatch and what happens to them.

8. Why does Madame Blanche tell Joncour that the girl will not die without him? Is she trying to help him? What does she know that he does not?

9. What animal does Baldabiou ask about upon Joncour's return from his first trip abroad? What does he do later to pay tribute to these animals? What are these animals a symbol for?

10. When the silkworm disease begins to spread in the early 1860s, Baldabiou observes that "nearly" all of the eggs are affected. What is he thinking? Where is he thinking of buying eggs?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

How, in the end, does Joncour live in peace? How does he find peace? When he discovers that Helene wrote the letters, what does he feel that he lost? Does this discovery take away his peace? How?

Essay Topic 2

Japan is described twice in the novel as "the end of the world." Who describes it that way, and when? Are the two incidents connected in any way?

Essay Topic 3

Describe the significance of silk and when and where it is used in the story to identify or describe a character. Think about the colorful litter, the silk tunic given to Helene by her husband and the silk kimono worn by Madame Blanche.

(see the answer keys)

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