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. 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 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 2

In speaking about the younger marchers who are verbally abused and often beaten and kept in jail for weeks, Mailer calls this protest at the Pentagon a rite of passage. Write an essay about the rites of passage inchoate in it. What individual actions must these young people undergo in this rite? Are they uniformly painful and traumatic? How so? In summation, discuss what these protesters intend to achieve through this rite. What are they accomplishing by undergoing these hardships?

Essay Topic 3

The character of Norman Mailer begins Armies of the Night with an ambivalent attitude toward the conflict in Vietnam. As the novel continues, his opinions regarding the war are codified by what he sees in Washington, DC. Write an essay about this codification in three parts:

Part 1) Norman Mailer is unsure of what he thinks about Vietnam protesting when Mitch Goodman calls him in Chapter 2. Why does he agree to go to Washington for the march? Is it at all connected to political realities of the time? How does his behavior at the Ambassador reflect his attitude toward the movement?

Part 2) What does Mailer experience on Friday and Saturday at the Justice Department, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Pentagon? Discuss how this experience makes him remember his time in combat. How does this experience begin to alter his feelings about the anti-war movement?

Part 3) Describe what Mailer's feelings toward the war in Vietnam have become when his is awaiting processing after having been arrested. What has he realized about those who oppose the conflict? What does he think is driving America's continued involvement in the conflict?

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