The Comedians 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 is the name of the ship on which Brown, Jones, and the Smiths are traveling?

2. When Brown arrived for the first time at the Hotel Trianon in Haiti, who was with his mother?

3. Where does Brown get his information about the curfew in Haiti?

4. After many years of silence, Brown received a message from his mother. What did the message say?

5. What is Brown's idea to help Jones escape?

Short Essay Questions

1. When Brown first mentions his hotel to the passengers aboard the Medea, he shows them bright postcards of bikini-clad girls and jazz drummers. Does this present Brown as an optimist or a pessimist? What do the postcards tell the reader about his character?

2. Jones is the mysterious guest whom Captain Concasseur is protecting at Mere Catherine's and the man who was occupied with Tin Tin. What is the effect of this surprise? How does it help to reveal Jones's character further?

3. In his mother's desk, Brown finds a disk which Doctor Magiot recognizes as a medal of the resistance. What does this reveal about his mother?

4. Throughout Chapter 1 of Part 1, the captain advises people to stay in touch with their respective consulates. Why is this, and how does it set the tone of the book?

5. Both the Secretary of State and Jones are confused by the idea that Jones would be charged with something. How is this indicative of Haitian politics? How does Brown's narration of the scene explain his view of it?

6. Doctor Magiot's funeral oration for Philipot consists mostly of the consolation that he died a natural death, which is to say he was not murdered. Considering the political environment, is this a compliment? What about the dead man's sense of mathematics?

7. When Angel has the mumps, Brown visits him at Martha's insistence, and this is the only time the two people interact for any length of time. What is the effect of this meeting? How is Angel portrayed?

8. In Part 1, Chapter 5, the small funeral entourage that drives to Petionville to bury Doctor Philipot is in a great hurry. Why is this? How does this tie in with the doctor's death?

9. What is the significance of Martha and Brown choosing to meet by the Columbus statue? Is there humor or irony in the choice?

10. In Part 1, Chapter 3, why does Brown tell the story of his lost virginity? How does his youthful past tie into his present relationship?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Examine the use of light as a literary device. How many scenes occur in the dusk or dark? How much of Brown's life specifically occurs at these times? What does this say about him? Why might the author choose to place him in the darkness? How does this set the tone of the book?

Essay Topic 2

Examine Brown from a literary standpoint. As the narrator of the story, is he reliable? What advantages are there in telling the story from his standpoint? Is he able to provide an advantage which an omniscient narrator might not? How does his viewpoint color the entire story?

Essay Topic 3

In Chapter Two of the first section, Brown notes that the ambassador is proud of what he owns, yet in the case of his wife he is perhaps willing to share. Examine the ambassador's character in comparison to this statement. Why, in light of the Haitian culture that the author explains, is possession so important? What does this say about the ambassador's marriage?

(see the answer keys)

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