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 2, what does Mailer say he has sworn not to do, because it will support continued fighting Vietnam?

2. In Chapter 5, who attempts to silence de Grazia and Mailer as they squabble onstage?

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

4. Why does Mailer's conversation with Macdonald become awkward in Chapter 4?

5. Which Ivy League university did both Mailer and the Chapter 2 caller graduate from?

Short Essay Questions

1. How does Norman Mailer characterize his hangover in Chapter 2?

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. How does Mailer annoy Ed de Grazia in Chapter 4?

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

10. What does Mailer feel about left-wing splinter groups' names in Chapter 3?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

More than midway through the novel, Mailer suddenly goes back in time and explains the planning of the March, events which he was not present for. Write an essay about the planning of the March, discussing which individuals and groups shaped it. What were the divergent opinions in terms of the locations and tactics of the March, and which one's won out in the end? Discuss individuals and groups who fell into conflict, why they did so, and how this affected the development of a strategy. In summation, determine whether the March had a coherent and unified planning process.

Essay Topic 2

Throughout Armies of the Night, Mailer interrupts his own narrative to discuss the novel itself and his decisions regarding how to tell the story. Write an essay about these interruptions, their function in the writing, and their effect on the reader:

Part 1) How does Mailer explain his decision to halt the narrative after his arrest? What information does he go back in time to impart before continuing with the events of the march? Discuss what Mailer indicates himself about a writer by this self-referential interruptus. Is he merely indicating that he is an incorrigible trickster?

Part 2) In the final passages of Book I, Mailer interrupts the events in Occoquan to offer a treatise on America's involvement in Vietnam. Why is this passage significant in understanding the development of Mailer the character? To what extent does it illustrate character growth in the story?

Part 3) Discuss the interruption of narration at the beginning of Book II. What significant literary development is happening in the novel at this point, and why is Mailer choosing to halt the story to inform the reader? How does this interruptus serve to mark a complete tone shift in the novel?

Essay Topic 3

Norman Mailer is a large, robust, arrogant personality. His placement at the center of most of the novel creates a powerful presence the reader must contend with. Write an essay about the divergent components of Mailer's personality. Begin by discussing his engorged id. How does Mailer revel in excess int he early passages of the novel? What is he trying to achieve? In the second half of the essay, discuss the emerging of Mailer's better angels. How does this reflect another side to Mailer, one that wants to show respect and graciousness? How is the novel as a whole a reflection of this desire?

(see the answer keys)

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