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 Taft's in-laws live?

2. What question does Fay ask John that makes him uncomfortable in Chapter 5?

3. How often did John and Marion see each other after reuniting?

4. Where does Levon work as a night security guard?

5. What promise does John make Marion at the end of Chapter 5?

Short Essay Questions

1. How does Fay describe her family to John In Chapter 6?

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

3. Describe the interchange between John and Fay in Chapter 5.

4. What does Taft worry about regarding his children in Chapter 5?

5. Why does John call Ruth in Chapter 6?

6. Describe the interchange John has with Cyndi in Chapter 4?

7. Why did John Nickel leave Marion?

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

9. How does Ruth interact with Fay and John in Chapter 6?

10. Describe John and Fay's first kiss.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

One of the central plotlines of the novel is the relationship between John Nickel and John Taft. This relationship is odd in that it does not abandon itself to the sexual tension around it. Write a three-part essay, analyzing this relationship:

Part 1) What is John Nickel's initial impression of Fay Taft, and why does he decide to bring her on to staff at Muddy's? Discuss how the relationship between Fay and John develops in the first weeks. How does it shift on the night that Carl overdoses?

Part 2) Discuss how John and Fay's impromptu trip to Shiloh helps develop the relationship between them. Why do they go? What is each character looking for from the other in these passages? What act of tenderness occurs at the end of the night?

Part 3) How does the relationship between John and Fay become a romantic relationship? What events help catalyze this shift? What kind of reaction does this receive from those around them, and how does the romantic entanglement effectively end?

Essay Topic 2

The narratives of "Taft" take place in two towns: Memphis and Coalfield. In an essay, compare the way that these two towns are portrayed in the novel. What abstract ideas and movements are represented by the towns? How does Patchett forge a tone in the novel for each of these settings? Discuss the characters that come from each town. How are their objectives and values similar and different? Do they come into conflict?

Essay Topic 3

Over the course of the novel, Carl Taft appears to be a dangerous and dynamic character. The reader experiences him at many points in his life. Write a three-part essay about the trajectory Carl Taft takes over the course of the novel:

Part 1) What is Carl's life like before his father dies? Discuss what he values in life and what challenges he faces. What does his father do to keep him in line? What mistakes does he make in his adolescent years?

Part 2) Discuss the significance of Taft's death in Carl's life. How is his experience of this tragedy different from his sister's and mother's? What makes it more painful for him, and what significant collapse occurs in his character before he leaves Coalfield?

Part 3) How does the world of Memphis prove horribly detrimental to Carl's life? Discuss how bad habits and addiction become near-suicidal in the larger city? What is Carl's low point and how is he partially redeemed by the end of the novel?

(see the answer keys)

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