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. Near the end of Chapter 3, David and James discuss unrest in what region?

2. Which of the following is not a tactic Kathryn used to learn Greek?

3. In Chapter 1, where does James tell Kathryn he has been doing most of his work?

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

5. In Chapter 1, what does James say is the only thing he can remember in Greek?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

6. How is Chapter 14 connected thematically to the rest of the novel?

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

8. Why are the Axtons separated?

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

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

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

Write an essay about the marriage and separation of James and Kathryn Axton. How did their marriage affect each others individual life and goals? What state is the marriage in when the novel begins, and how did it reach this point? Discuss how Kathryn and James' personalities and lifestyles change after the separation. What idiosyncrasies are revealed as a result? What finally breaks the marriage apart for good, and how does the veneer of cordiality disappear as a result?

Essay Topic 3

The action of Don DeLillo's The Names largely centers on a group of westerners' search for the language cult that stalks Eurasia. Each of these men has a reason for seeking this death-cult, and each has tactics that yield varying success. Write an essay about the individual quests for the cult in the novel:

Part 1) Why does Frank Volterra want to find the death cult in The Names, and what is his intention when he does find them? Discuss how Volterra initially hears about the cult, and what tactic he uses to find them. What success does this yield? Why does the director give up?

Part 2) Why does James Axton want to find the cult? Discuss what other events in his life coincide with this dangerous quest. What does James discover about the cult, and how? How is his sense of sanity affected by this? What new fears and obsessions does the search evoke?

Part 3) Why does Owen Brademas want to find the death cult? How does his childhood relate to his goals in the quest? Discuss what tactics and skills make Owen Brademas the most successful of the searchers in the novel. Why, in the end, does Owen consider his search a failure?

(see the answer keys)

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