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 did Fay work in Coalfield?

2. In Chapter 5, what does Taft admonish Fay about?

3. In Chapter 4, Taft jokes with Fay before what?

4. What does Taft wish would happen during the match at the end of Chapter 6?

5. What task in the bar does John worry about delegating in Chapter 3?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. Why does John call Ruth in Chapter 6?

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

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

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

6. What is the nature of Ruth and John's visit together in the midst of Chapter 6?

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

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

9. How are Taft's feelings about race elucidated in Chapter 6?

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

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

Write an essay about the character of Fay Taft and how she is portrayed in the novel. To what extent if Fay an enigmatic character? How do both John and her father struggle to understand her and what she wants in her life? What fears do other characters have for her? In the end, is Fay a strong or a weak individual? What challenges and conflicts does Patchett use to reveal her essential character in the novel?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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