Telling Secrets Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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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. The author's sick daughter was more afraid of what than death?

2. In complaining about her looks, what did the author's mother say "don't fit?"

3. Where were the ashes of the author's father buried?

4. The author likens his mother, in her later years, to a millionaire who what?

5. On what street was the apartment in which the author's mother died?

Short Essay Questions

1. What was on the stained glass pieces in the author's office?

2. Why did the author feel like a dwarf as depicted in C. S. Lewis' "The Last Battle?"

3. How did the author's mother's aging affect her life?

4. According to the author, how does memory help us finish with the past?

5. Why did the author's mother have so few friends as she got older?

6. Describe the author's mother's bedroom in her 79th street apartment.

7. How did author's mom respond to his fictionalized version of his father's death and how did her reaction to this fist telling affect the author's writing about the death later?

8. Why/how does the author identify with one of the stained glass images?

9. What is the most sacred function of memory?

10. What did the author deal with in first two autobiographies?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The author's mother is quoted in Part One of the book as saying, "If I didn't have something to look for, I would be lost." Answer either A or B.

A. Why does she make this statement? Discuss the significance of the mother losing her beauty and trying to find it daily with her make-up and other enhancements, in relation to her state of mind, her health, and her relationship with her sons and her caregivers/friends.

B. Why does the author describe the statement as one of his mother's "most shimmering utterances?" How does this theme of "lost and found" play out throughout the details of the author's life described in the book - his family (mom and brother, wife and kids), friends, students?

Essay Topic 2

After the author's mother-in-law dies, he and his wife spend time in Florida, where he begins seeing another therapist. How does this therapy help him forgive and understand his father? His mother? What did the author dream about that helped this process? What did the author realize he had passed on to his kids after going through this process?

Essay Topic 3

The author taught on the east coast and in the mid-west. Explain his thoughts about each experience, using details from the book. Also, identify the major differences that existed between the two in regards to religious discussions, and the students he taught; and how these differences contributed to the author's experiences.

(see the answer keys)

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