The Names Test | Lesson Plans Mid-Book Test - Hard

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Mid-Book Test - Hard

Name: _________________________ Period: ___________________

This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. About whom does James dream about in Chapter 6?

2. Who is the inspiration for Tap's novel?

3. What country is David Keller going to be air-dropped into in Chapter 5?

4. What specific problem is Volterra having with his excursions in Chapter 6?

5. What scares Owen about religion?

Short Essay Questions

1. What offer does David Keller make James in Chapter 8, and how does James respond?

2. Describe the murder in Kouros.

3. How did James Axton begin working at Northeast Group?

4. According to Owen in Chapter 5, Why does the world hate America?

5. Describe the political argument that James and Eliades have in Chapter 10.

6. How does James learn the truth behind the CIA in Chapter 13?

7. What information does Andahl give about the cult in Chapter 9?

8. How does James follow up on his Mani discovery later in Chapter 8?

9. How is Owen's connection to the cave people addressed in Chapter 4?

10. How has Rowser become more paranoid in Chapter 11?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

In The Names, Don DeLillo has created a central mystery - the mystery of the cult - in which clues and revelations are annoyingly amorphous and cannot necessarily be trusted. Write an essay about the subjectivity of truth in the novel, focusing on three pieces of information that James Axton gleans in his investigation. Where does this information come from? What is James's attitude towards it? Does he think that it is ultimately trustworthy?

Essay Topic 2

The Names takes place in a place and time in which new and unknown dangers are emerging for expat Americans. The novel finds clever and unnerving ways to illustrate these dangers. Write an essay in three parts dealing with the way DeLillo illustrates danger and fear in the novel:

Part 1) Discuss the new international reality that is emerging for Americans in the early 1980's. What is the state of the Cold War at this time? What events have illustrated the new danger posed by religious extremism? To what extent is James Axton's profession the quintessential creation of American expat culture in this time?

Part 2) James Axton is clearly a character what sits at the tip of the spear for international danger. What dangers exist for him throughout the novel? Discuss ambiguous characters, messages, and events that strike him as dangerous? What violent moment serves as the culmination of this nascent danger, and who does James think is responsible for it?

Part 3) Discuss the subterranean actions that place James Axton's life in danger throughout the novel. How has James been an unwitting pawn of the intelligence community? What was hunting him throughout the novel? How does he discover the true nature of his work?

Essay Topic 3

Write an essay about the character of Frank Volterra. What is his connection to the Axtons, and how does he find himself in the search of the language cult? Discuss how DeLillo paints Volterra with a different brush that the other characters. Is he, in essence, a caricature of the temperamental auteur director? How does Del Nearing's attachment to Volterra humanize him to a certain point?

(see the answer keys)

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