The Names 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. During their argument in Chapter 5, what does Kathryn call James?

2. In Chapter 2, what does Owen admit is the only thing he wants to do with his life?

3. In Chapter 4, where does Owen think the cave people have gone?

4. Looking at the methodology of the cult in Chapter 7, James realizes that the actual murders are what?

5. In Chapter 7, Owen claims to be good at finding what when studying faith?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. Why are the Axtons separated?

3. What theory about the language cult does James present to Owen in Chapter 7?

4. What conversation do Eliades and James have at dinner in Chapter 3?

5. Describe Kathryn and James' argument in Chapter 5?

6. Why is Volterra in Jordan in Chapter 6?

7. Why does James Axton like having late-night talks with Owen and Kathryn?

8. What do Owen and James talk about at the end of Chapter 2?

9. What is James and Kathryn's relationship with Volterra?

10. Why is Owen uncomfortable talking about the Feast of the Virgin in Chapter 2?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

James Axton's relationships with women change dramatically over the course of The Names. In certain respects, he is paralyzed throughout with the narrative by his inability to connect emotionally with a woman. Write an essay about this transition in three parts:

Part 1) What is the state of James Axton's marriage to Kathryn at the beginning of the play? Why are the two of them separated? How does the living situation at the beginning of the novel seem prepared to break apart, and what series of events effectively ends their marriage?

Part 2) How does James's interaction with Janet Ruffing typify his relationship with the female gender after his marriage ends? What does this attitude toward sex do for his outlook? Is he more or less happy than when he was married? What is DeLillo saying about marriage in this regard?

Part 3) Discuss James's relationship with Ann Maitland. What do the two have in common? How do these similarities create a deeper connection that transcends James's general attitude toward women? Discuss how this relationship matures, and what this means.

Essay Topic 2

Violence occurs intermittently throughout The Names, and when it falls, the violence comes quickly and partially witnessed. It is ambiguous in its intent and raises all sorts of questions. Write an essay about moments of violence in the novel:

Part 1) Discuss the first murder. Who makes not of it first in the novel? Is it witnessed, first-hand by any character? How does Owen connect the violence to the people he met in the cave? What inquiries lead to the connection of the first murder to the ones that came before and after it?

Part 2) How does Owen experience his only murder with the death cult? Is he actually present when the man is bludgeoned to death? Why or why not? In assessing the effect of this violence on him as a character, discuss what leads up to the murder and what follows it.

Part 3) How is David Keller shot in the novel? Who shoots him, and why? How does James Axton, and by proxy the reader, experience this act of violence in the novel? Discuss what concerns and doubts it creates in the protagonist's mind. How is the act explained?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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