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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 does Carl call Muddy's from in Chapter 9?
2. In Chapter 10, how does Taft decide Carl will pay off the damage to the car?
3. Who visits Taft in the middle of the night in Chapter 10?
4. In the beginning of the Taft section of Chapter 12, where is Virginia?
5. Who dances to the band's slow, elegiac song at Muddy's in Chapter 11?
Short Essay Questions
1. When does Fay surprise Taft in Chapter 10?
2. How is John shot in Chapter 11?
3. Where does John go to recuperate in Chapter 12?
4. Why is John deeply gladdened by his morning with Marion and Franklin in Chapter 11?
5. What happens at dinner in Chapter 7.
6. Describe Taft's interaction with Tommy Lawson's son in Chapter 10?
7. What does Wallace tell John about Carl in Chapter 8?
8. Why does John refuse to be taken to a hospital after being shot?
9. How do Ruth, Fay and Cyndi gang up on John at the beginning of Chapter 9?
10. How does Taft die in Chapter 12?
Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:
Essay Topic 1
The world of "Taft" is - for much of the novel - the world of Muddy's, the bar John Nickel runs. This microcosm of Memphis is created by the individuals that populate it. Write an essay about three characters that populate Muddy's. How would you describe each character? What role does each play in the plot? Is this a sympathetic individual? What does this character add to the setting of the novel?
Part 1) Rose
Part 2) Cyndi
Part 3) Wallace
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
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?
This section contains 1,270 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)