The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History Test | Lesson Plans Mid-Book Test - Hard

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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. What favor has Mailer recently done for Goodman?

2. Whose "dwarf alter ego" did Mailer claim to be at the Ambassador speech, according to Macdonald in Chapter 3?

3. Who is entertaining the audience when the speakers arrive?

4. What is significant about the way Lowell recites his poetry in Chapter 6?

5. What word does Mailer use repeatedly in Chapter 1 to describe the effect of the Pentagon March?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe Norman Mailer as a character.

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

3. Why does Mailer state he does not have a good instinct for speeches at protests?

4. How does Mailer fair in court in Chapter 9?

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

6. How do the soldiers and police in Chapter 8 make arrests and justify beatings?

7. What train of people following the the march in Chapter 4?

8. How does Mailer respond to William Sloane Coffin in Chapter 3?

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

10. What permits does the Mobilization Committee get in Chapter 4?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Throughout the novel Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer makes reference to other source materials. These offer the reader another vantage for the events of October, 1967. Write an essay about these source materials, focusing on two uses in the novel:

Part 1) The novel begins with a an assessment of Norma Mailer's involvement in the march on the Pentagon in Time Magazine. What does this article have to say about Mailer? How, in essence, does it provide a counterpoint for what follows in the rest of the novel? To what extent does this article both inspire Mailer to write the novel and serve as a destination of sorts for him? Why is Mailer so dedicated to responding to the article?

Part 2) The second book of the novel is full of quotes and references to other publications. Discuss several of these publications and their role in Book II. How does their inclusion reflect a different sort of narration from the narration in Book I? Is Mailer attempting to cite them as corroboration or refute them as he does the Time Magazine story?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

Norman Mailer is an arrogant, hard-living, patently cynical person, but he cares passionately about what others think of him. When he sees someone who is more respected or more famous, Mailer is stricken with a combination of fascination and maddened jealousy. Write an essay about three such individuals. How does the narrative juxtapose these people with the character of Mailer? How does he react to them? Do they inspire anger, respect, or some combination of both in him?

Part 1) Robert Lowell

Part 2) William Sloane Coffin

Part 3) Noam Chomsky

(see the answer keys)

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