Taft Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Ann Patchett
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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. Where do Fay and John eventually find Carl in Chapter 3?

2. In Chapter 5, what does Mr. Woodmoore say about Marion?

3. What business in Memphis does Fay's uncle run?

4. Who is Virginia?

5. What does Carl say to John at the end of Chapter 5?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why do Taft's in-laws get annoyed at Carl in Chapter 6?

2. In what state is Carl when John and Fay find him in Chapter 3?

3. Why did John Nickel leave Marion?

4. Describe John and Fay's first kiss.

5. Describe the frantic call that John gets at the end of the Chapter 1?

6. How is Levon Taft's life described in Chapter 5?

7. What interchange do Fay and John have before parting in Chapter 4?

8. Who does Fay introduce John to Chapter 2?

9. What do John and Fay do at the battlefield in Chapter 4?

10. In what state is Cyndi on the second night of Chapter 3?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Write an essay about Patchett's portrayal of the modern Deep South in the novel. What is left of the specter of Jim Crow in the South? How do the remnants of segregation and racism manifest themselves in the narrative? Discuss how this nascent bigotry affects the character of John Nickel. Why does it make him more reticent to connect with Fay Taft? Is the city really as racist as he believes?

Essay Topic 2

Throughout much of Ann Patchett's "Taft", John Nickel has to choose between his individual desires and his duty to family. Write a three-part essay about this continuous struggle, focusing on three moments when it became apparent to him:

Part 1) When John Nickel first met Marion Woodmoore, what did he want out of life? Discuss how these personal objectives lead to his leaving of Marion in her most vulnerable time. What has to occur in John's life before he can accept his responsibilities?

Part 2) Discuss John's sense of duty to Carl Taft. At what point does John determine he needs to protect Carl, and what is his logic? What trajectory does this take? How does John increasingly put himself in danger in protecting the boy?

Part 3) What sacrifice does Mrs. Woodmoore ask John Nickel to make in the final chapter of the novel? Why is this sacrifice difficult and why is it necessary? What indication is there at the end of Taft that John will make the sacrifice?

Essay Topic 3

Write an essay about Levon Taft, and how he is largely a creation of John Nickel's imagination. Why would John Nickel become fixated on Taft? How does he become aware of Taft's existence and death? Discuss the origin of the information in the Taft narrative: his first name, his car, and his various jobs. When would John have heard about these details? Discuss how the final chapter involves John's complete immersion in a Taft construction.

(see the answer keys)

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