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. What are the caged animals at the entrance to Hara Kei's house meant to signify?

2. By Imperial Decree, how many masts could a ship have sailing into Japan's harbors?

3. What happens to Joncour's neighbor in the end?

4. What does Joncour do for the rest of the year when he's not working?

5. What kind of silkworm eggs does Joncour buy in 1861?

Short Essay Questions

1. 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?

2. When Joncour seeks out someone who can translate the note for him, Baldabiou informs him of Madame Blanche, but tells him not to ask her personal questions. Why do you think Baldabiou gives Joncour this suggestion?

3. When Joncour meets the Englishman in Japan who is selling guns, he asks about the girl. What is the Englishman's reply? Do you think the Englishman has seen the girl? Do you think he knows more than he is saying? What?

4. On his second trip to Japan, Joncour sits at the lake with Hara Kei and they are described as "Holding their peace." What do you think the author means by this? Where else have you heard this expression? Do you think there is a connection between a reference to a wedding and a mistress?

5. What does Helene do with the silk scarf her husband brings home to her? Why does she react that way? What do you think Helene senses about her husband?

6. Why does the young girl accompanying Hara Kei not have an Asian slant to her eyes? Does this give the reader a clue to her past? What?

7. What is the symbolism of the exotic birds kept caged at the house of Hara Kei? What does this tell Joncour? What else does Joncour see at Hara Kei's house?

8. What happened when Jean Berbeck decided not to speak anymore? Why is this significant information in getting to know the character of Joncour?

9. When Baldabiou first broaches the idea of going to Japan for silk eggs, why do the local silk manufacturers not know anything about Japan?

10. Describe the party at Hara Kei's house. Who is there? Are these important people? Why? Why not?

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

Describe the items hanging from the litter of the mistress. What do they signify? Which items make noise? Do you believe she is still in the litter? Do you think she is beaten? Are the items hanging from the litter a sign of her captivity? How?

Essay Topic 3

How does Hara Kei forgive Joncour his rude behavior? He does it several times in the novel. Does he react the same way each time, or differently? Why does he endure Joncour's lack of knowledge about Japan?

(see the answer keys)

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