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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. Why does John demand not to be taken to the hospital in Chapter 11?
2. Why is Carl not with Taft when he dies in Chapter 12?
3. Where is Taft in Chapter 12 when he has his fatal heart attack?
4. In the beginning of the Taft section of Chapter 12, where is Virginia?
5. What does the doctor suggest to Marion at the end of Chapter 11?
Short Essay Questions
1. Why is John deeply gladdened by his morning with Marion and Franklin in Chapter 11?
2. Describe John and Fay's interaction in Chapter 7.
3. When does Fay surprise Taft in Chapter 10?
4. How does John anger Ruth at the beginning of Chapter 7?
5. Why is Taft shaken by the site of Carl's accident in Chapter 10?
6. What confrontation do John and Carl have in Chapter 8?
7. What does Fay ask John at dinner in Chapter 9?
8. How is John shot in Chapter 11?
9. How do Ruth, Fay and Cyndi gang up on John at the beginning of Chapter 9?
10. How does Marion's friend, the doctor, help John in Chapter 11?
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
One of Anne Patchett's great gifts in dramatizing the moments between parents and children that typify the beauty of this type of relationship. Three such moments can be seen as pivotal moments in the novel. Write an essay about these three transcendent moment in the novel:
Part 1) Discuss the evening visit between Taft and Fay at the lumber yard. Why does Fay decide to interrupt her date to visit her father? In what respect is it a gift he desperately needs? How does this visit change his feelings about his relationship with his daughter?
Part 2) Discuss the moment in Chapter 11 that leaves John Nickel glowing. What does Franklin say he remembers about John, and why does this surprise John? How does it shift his thoughts regarding whether or not to reunite with Marion?
Part 3) Discuss the final passage of "Taft". How does is signify the perfect relationship between father and child? What is being taught by the parent, and how does the child receive the knowledge? What does this say about the joys and fears of parenthood?
Essay Topic 3
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?
This section contains 1,327 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)