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 advice does Rowser give James in Chapter 3?

2. Where does Kathryn accept a job at the end of Chapter 5?

3. What does James admit to Kathryn as they walk together in Chapter 2?

4. In Chapter 1, what monument do James Axton and his friends discuss?

5. What do the dig's trenches overlap?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What does James Axton do in Europe?

3. How has Charles Maitland changed of late?

4. What explanation of the language cult's motives does Vosdanik offer in Chapter 6?

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

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

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

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

9. Describe Owen Brademas.

10. Describe the murder in Kouros.

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

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?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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