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. What do the Woodmoores regularly try to convince Marion to do?

2. How old was Ruth when she kissed John?

3. Why does John offer to drive Fay home in Chapter 3?

4. Who does John Nickel imagine as he walks through Fay's house?

5. In Chapter 5, what does Fay say she would have named her son?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does John learn about Marion at dinner in Chapter 5?

2. How do John and Fay meet in Chapter 1?

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

4. Why did John Nickel leave Marion?

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

6. How is Ruth introduced in Chapter 5?

7. What do Marion and John discuss at the end of Chapter 5?

8. What role does Carl play at Muddy's as time does on?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In the insular world of Memphis as represented in this novel, many individuals have opinions regarding John's personal life. In particular, the Woodmoore family insinuates itself into his relationship with Marion. Write an essay about each of the Woomoore family-members's opinions. What does this person think John should do regarding his ex-wife? Why is this opinion held, and how does the character express the opinion to John over the course of the novel?

Part 1) Mr. Woodmoore.

Part 2) Mrs. Woodmoore.

Part 3) Ruth.

Essay Topic 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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