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. In telling his father's story as a child, who does Teddy represent in this story?

2. How old was the author when his father committed suicide?

3. Who tends to more publicly lose touch with themselves and with God, according to the author?

4. In the room in which the author writes, how many pieces of stained glass sit in his windows?

5. What fell behind the radiator and required that the building superintendent come to retrieve it?

Short Essay Questions

1. How did the daughter being sick affect the author?

2. What is the most sacred function of memory?

3. Why is the author telling his secrets?

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

5. 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?

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

7. What did the author say he would deal with in this autobiography "Telling Secrets?"

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

9. What illness did the author's daughter have and how did it affect her?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In Part Two of the book, the author talks about the "mystery" of Genesis 1:26-27. What is the "mystery" and how does this relate to what the author calls our deepest, original self? What happens to this original self after the world "does its work?" What does the author mean when he talks about the weather of the world, hats and coats, and "all our other selves?"

Essay Topic 2

Why does the author attend St. Barnabas Episcopal Church? How is this place more at home for him than another Church? Why does the author enjoy the chanting so much? Who is Robert MacFarlane, and how does he impact the author's connection with this church?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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