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. In Chapter 1, who does Mailer get into a cloyingly complimentary conversation?

2. In Chapter 1, what does Mailer claim the young generation hates more than anything else?

3. In Chapter 6, what does Mailer do after leaving the theatre?

4. Which social or literary figure calls Mailer in Chapter 2?

5. Where did Mailer and the Chapter 2 caller spend a period of time after college?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What metaphor does Mailer use in Chapter 5 to describe the Vietnam controvery in America and who takes what sides?

3. Why does Mailer agree to join the Pentagon protest in Chapter 2?

4. What reasoning does Mailer give for placing himself at the center of the narrative of the novel in Chapter 1?

5. What rationalization does Mailer give for taking his book from the hostess's house in Chapter 5?

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

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

8. What is the plan for the Justice Department protest?

9. How does Mailer characterize the march to the Washington Monument in Chapter 2?

10. What does Mailer pointedly note about the black delegates at the march in Chapter 3?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Norman Mailer, throughout the novel, refers to himself and the other writers and organizers of the march as notables, indicating that they will get preferential treatment from authorities. Mailer makes clear in Armies of the Night that the notables have less at stake than the younger, less famous participants. Write an essay about the difference in consequences faced by the notables and the younger marchers, focusing on two groups. What pain does each group face? Why are the notables excepted from this risk? How do the younger groups face this danger with stoic resolve over the course of the novel?

Part 1) The young men who have turned over their draft cards.

Part 2) The marchers who remain camped in the Pentagon lot on Saturday evening.

Essay Topic 2

In Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer regularly invokes the history of the United States while he tells the story of the Pentagon March. Write an essay about Mailer's desire to present the March as a link in the development of America's social and political infrastructure, choosing three instances from the novel in which he invokes America's collective past. How does he bring up the past in these instances? What do they have to do with the current events involving the March? What specific point does the author seem to be making in this comparison?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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