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. In Chapter 4, James marvels that he can barely read the Greek writing on what?

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

3. What information does Kathryn give about the murder victim at the beginning of Chapter 4?

4. How many items are on the list James reads to Kathryn at the end of Chapter 1?

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

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. What story does Owen tell about a cave in Chapter 2?

4. How has Charles Maitland changed of late?

5. Describe the tiff that Charles Maitland and James have at the end of Chapter 7.

6. What does James Axton do in Europe?

7. How has Kathryn Axton changes since separating from James?

8. Why is James ridiculed by his friends in the beginning of Chapter 1?

9. What theories do Kathryn and Owen posit about the killings in Chapter 5?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Write an essay about the ensemble that is James Axton's expatriate social scene. What collective philosophy do these people share, and for whence does this philosophy derive? In this essay, discuss the dynamic that exists within the group. Who are the most dominant figures in the group dynamic, and who feels like an outsider? Which couples are strong and which are clearly foundering? How is this made apparent?

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

The world of The Names is one in which truth and facts are subjective. One can never be certain what is real and what is imagined. As such, there are a plethora of ambiguous characters in the novel. Write an essay about three such characters, discussing what they appear to be and what they are. How is the narrative affected by each of these characters? What deceptions do they perpetrate, and to what end? Is each characters' objectives identified by the end of the novel?

Part 1) Eliades

Part 2) Rowser

Part 3) Andahl

(see the answer keys)

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