The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 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 Letter #130, what distinction does Tolkien make about the artificial languages he creates for his books?

2. How does Tolkien describe the alteration he is contemplating making to his manuscript in Letter #128?

3. Who participates in the Machine?

4. Based on the information in the Introduction, how many chapters does the book have?

5. In Letter, #6, to what college subject does Tolkien refer?

Short Essay Questions

1. What observation does Tolkien make about his Middle English class to Mrs. E.M. Wright in Letter #6?

2. What happens between Tolkien and Edith leading up to their engagement?

3. What message does Tolkien hear when he is becoming impatient about the publishing of The Lord of the Rings?

4. What inspires a schoolboy to write to Tolkien about The Hobbit in Letter #114 and what advice does Tolkien give in return?

5. What is the One Ring of Power in Tolkien's stories?

6. How does Tolkien refer to The Hobbit in his early letters to Christopher?

7. What request does Allen & Unwin have about Farmer Giles of Ham and how does Tolkien respond?

8. Who is Tolkien traveling with in the story he recounts for Christopher in a letter from April 3, 1944, and what is the point of the story?

9. What change does Tolkien consider and eventually make to The Hobbit in Letters #128 and #129, and why is it significant?

10. How does Tolkien describe the development of his penchant for stories in Letter #130?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Mortality and humanity are two themes that are present in Tolkien's novels.

1) Describe why Tolkien chooses to place humans in the background of his stories instead of featuring them as main characters.

2) Compare the psychological issues that Elves have in dealing with their immortality.

3) Analyze the parallels between the struggles that human beings have with their mortality and the problems the Elves face with their existence.

Essay Topic 2

Discuss Tolkien's creative writing process using the information he provides in his letters throughout the book. Be sure to include his explanation of the power of the pen as well as an analysis of the role of improvisation in fiction.

Essay Topic 3

Describe Tolkien's views on parenting in Letter #246. Include the reasons why he thinks people either fear or are reluctant to become parents and the many benefits of having children that he writes about.

(see the answer keys)

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