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. What does James wish he could do at the end of the night in Chapter 2?

2. What has been the purpose of Volterra's recent excursions in Chapter 6?

3. At the end of Chapter 1, how does James think Kathryn's attitude toward him is changing?

4. In Chapter 6, Vosdanik explains that to the cult of lonely men, words are the vessels of what?

5. After James drops Anand and Rajiv off in Chapter 4, what does Tap request they do?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. How is Rowser's lifestyle strange given his position?

3. How is Owen haunted by his childhood memories of religion?

4. What strange coincidence does James notice at the end of Chapter 6?

5. Describe the awkward lunch at the beginning of Chapter 7.

6. What plan does Volterra have for his life after film?

7. Why are the Axtons separated?

8. How does Kathryn rise quickly in Owen Brademas's dig?

9. Describe Tap Axton.

10. How do Kathryn and James discuss their relationship in Chapter 2?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The place of America in the international community is a recurring motif in the narrative. How are all of the main characters - James Axton, Kathryn Axton, and Owen Brademas - at the back and call of this place? What new dangers are emerging from the ether in regards to Americans abroad? How is James Axton an operative of America in the hostile international world? How does Eliades represent the opposite, a spokesman and operative for a disgruntled world?

Essay Topic 2

A central theme of Don DeLillo's The Names is the mystical and broad meaning of language. In this novel, language and words not only contain meaning but also a sort of divine truth. Write an essay in three parts about the way DeLillo deals with truth in the novel:

Part 1) Owen Brademas is the major character with the most passionate connection to language in the novel. Discuss what influences in his life, beginning with his childhood, have contributed to this connection. What does he want to do with his life, and how do words become part of this? What is the purpose of ancient words, in his viewpoint?

Part 2) Midway through the novel, the mysterious Vosdanik explains the significance of words to the mysterious cult. Describe the role of language to the lonely men of the desert. Why are they obsessed with them? Historically, what has been the significance of words to spiritual acolytes?

Part 3) What is the methodology of the language cult? Why do they commit their murders? What divine extreme are they reaching for? Citing the words of Vosdanik, Andahl, and Singh, discuss the meaning of the cult in the world of the novel. Are they the touchstone of love of language in The Names?

Essay Topic 3

Write an essay about the Language Cult and how it becomes a symbol in the novel. To what extent does the language cult exist outside of time and place? In what ways is it stateless and oddly innocent? In discussing the otherworldliness of the cult, determine what it represents to the people who search it out. What do these lost Americans long to find at the end of the search for the cult? To what extent does the cult represent a pre-American world?

(see the answer keys)

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