Taft Test | Final Test - Hard

Ann Patchett
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Which of the following characters does not become romantically involved with John in the novel?

2. What did Carl hit in his crash?

3. What does Carl thank John for at the beginning of Chapter 8?

4. In Chapter 8, What does Fay pointedly ask John?

5. In Chapter 7, why does John think the crowd is larger than normal?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

The novel of "Taft" is about two fathers and the children they fear losing. Each of the central figures is concerned that he is the only thing standing between his child and the dark, vicious world around them. Write a three-part essay about the children of these fathers and how losing a paternal figure affects them:

Part 1) Discuss the concerns that Levon Taft has for Fay. What does he worry Fay is not prepared for in the wide world? What plans does he make in his final days to bring her closer? What does Fay do after Taft's death to attempt to hold the family together? How does she crumble in the wake of the tragedy?

Part 2) Compare Carl's collapse after Taft's death to Fay's. How did her experience this tragedy differently? How was he already unpredictable? Discuss the depths to which Carl falls after his father's death, and where it ends?

Part 3) How does Franklin's life change after he is taken away from his father? How does John fear his son is in danger? Discuss the ways in which Franklin and John fear separation and fight to reunite through the novel.

Essay Topic 2

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 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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