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 does Joncour view life?

2. What color flowers does Madame Blanche wear?

3. What does Madame Blanche do for a living?

4. What spreads to Africa and India in the 1860s?

5. What does Madame Blanche say the note reads?

Short Essay Questions

1. 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?

2. 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?

3. How is Helene described? What is her most important attribute?

4. 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?

5. 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?

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

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

8. What happens every time Hara Kei appears? Who leaves? Is this by design? Why do you think that?

9. 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?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What do the two English characters, the one in France at the party, and the one in the Japanese village, have in common? How are they different? Why do you think the author introduced these two characters, one in each country, to play off the main characters? What do they bring to the story? How would the story have been different without them?

Essay Topic 2

Which of the characters have attributes? What is something that would connect to each character? For example, ash for Hara Kei. Try to come up with an attribute for each character in the novel. Explain you answer.

Essay Topic 3

In the author's description of the trip from France to Japan, he describes it exactly the same except for the description of Lake Baikal. Each time Joncour travels past the lake, the locals are calling the lake by a different name. Why is this significant? What does this symbolize? Why would this be the only point where the author deviates from his description?

(see the answer keys)

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