The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History 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. Where did Mailer and the Chapter 2 caller spend a period of time after college?

2. In Chapter 2, to whom does Mailer state he holds final allegiance?

3. How long has the audience been waiting when the speakers arrive at the theatre in Chapter 5?

4. At the beginning of Chapter 1, to what does Mailer compare the atmosphere of the Hay-Adams breakfast crowd?

5. What does Mailer liken himself to when he begins emceeing in Chapter 5?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe the interactions Mailer has with his fellow speakers at the party in Chapter 4.

2. Why is Mailer late to emcee the event in Chapter 5?

3. What amusing interchange happens between Mailer and Lowell in this section?

4. How do Ed de Grazia and Mailer scuffle in Chapter 5?

5. Why is Dwight Macdonald livid about the newspaper coverage of the Ambassador event in Chapter 3?

6. Why are Mailer, Macdonald, and Lowell ambivalent about getting arrested in Chapter 1?

7. Describe the performance space of this section.

8. What appraisal of Robert Lowell does Mailer make in en route to the Department of Justice in Chapter 3?

9. Describe Mailer's emceeing in Chapters 5 and 6?

10. What concerns Goodman about the protest planning in Chapter 3?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Norman Mailer, the author of Armies of the Night, takes on several roles throughout the novel. He is protagonist, author, and historian at the same time. Write an essay about the interchange amongst these three Mailers, divided into three parts:

Part 1) Norman Mailer is the protagonist of the novel, but the narrator's relationship to him is not as intimate as one might expect. Explore how the point of view of the novel makes the character of Mailer as much object as subject. What aspects of the character does the narrator go to great pains to dissect? How does the he function as protagonist to the first book?

Part 2) Discuss the role of Mailer as narrator in the first book of the novel. What does his narration reflect about the author's personality and his relative level of sobriety? Would you say that Mailer the author is a reliable narrator? How does he react both to the events of the march and the actions of Mailer the character?

Part 3) Focus on Mailer's narration in the second book on the novel. He characterizes himself as a historian in this section. How is Mailer the narrator different from both Mailer the author and Mailer the character? Is his narration more or less reliable than it was in Book I? In what way do the two narrators meet at the beginning of Book II?

Essay Topic 2

A good portion of the opening passages of Armies of the Night are as much about the niceties and snipes of the literary class in 1960's America as the protest culture of the same. Write an essay about Mailer's place and opinions in the world of prolific writers in the novel, focusing on three instances:

Part 1) Why does Mailer agree to come to the Pentagon march in Washington, DC? Discuss how this decision is more connected to his literary position in New York than his opinions on the Vietnam War? What does Mailer want to achieve through his involvement in the protest?

Part 2) Discuss the party held the first evening Mailer is in Washington, DC. What decisions does he make about the way that he treats the hostess? What is the reason for the awkward encounter Mailer has with Dwight Macdonald?

Part 3) Mailer enters the Ambassador presentation like a wrecking ball, attempting to destroy everyone around him. Discuss his reasons for doing this. What does he resent about those on the stage? How does Mailer want to be perceived by the audience? How does the popular reaction to his antics temper his behavior for the remainder of the weekend?

Essay Topic 3

Mailer the narrator and historian makes a point of arguing that both the MP's and the marchers are saddened by the violence evoked by the protest. Write an essay analyzing the way Mailer dramatizes the events, giving even-handed account of both sides of the police line. What examples does he give of sensitive and professional MP's? How does he explain the logic behind their brutality and their shame at having committed it? Conversely, how is the violence legally unjustified? How does it result in terror and wild paranoia among the marchers? Is that its intent?

(see the answer keys)

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