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. In Chapter 1, what does John Nickel say he will probably never do again?

2. In Chapter 5, what does Mr. Woodmoore privately ask John to do?

3. Why does John admonish Eddie's father in Chapter 2?

4. Before leaving the Woodmoore's, what does John invite Ruth to do?

5. Which battlefield do Fay and Fay think to visit in Chapter 4?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. Why does John buy cigarettes in Chapter 5?

4. Describe John and Fay's first kiss.

5. Why did John Nickel leave Marion?

6. Why does John call Ruth in Chapter 6?

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

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

9. Where do John and Fay travel in Chapter 4?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The novel of "Taft" has a major character's death at the center of its narrative, and the ramifications of this death serve as a dire warning to the other characters. Write an essay about death and the fear of death in "Taft". How does Taft's death ripple through the narrative of the novel? How does its effect confirm John's fears about Franklin? What does he worry will happen if he disappears from his son's life?

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

John Nickel is a deeply sympathetic character, but his self-destructive tendencies come into view whenever he becomes sexually entangled with a woman. Write an essay about three such of these entanglements. How does each begin and how does each develop? What personal weaknesses do these trysts reveal in John? What mental anguish do they unearth? Does John overcome this anguish by the end of the novel? If so, how?

Part 1) Marion

Part 2) Ruth

Part 3) Fay

(see the answer keys)

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