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 offer does James make to Charles in Chapter 4?

2. What event precipitated the separation of the Axtons?

3. What does James steal from the fridge at his wife's apartment in Chapter 1?

4. Why is Kathryn Maitland living on the island of Kouros?

5. In what part of his apartment is James at the end of Chapter 3?

Short Essay Questions

1. What unsettling information does Ann Maitland tell James in Chapter 10?

2. How does James seduce Janet Ruffing at the end of Chapter 9?

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

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

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

6. What admission does James make to Lindsay Keller in Chapter 13?

7. What transpires during James' evening with Del Nearing in Chapter 10?

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

9. Describe the murder in Kouros.

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In The Names, Don DeLillo sets up two mysteries that seem at one point to be connected. Write an essay discussing the reality behind both mysteries and how DeLillo juxtaposes them. Which two entities are aware of James Axton, and which one specifically attempts to harm him? What inclinations does he have that either of these entities is on to him? Which entity does Eliades belong to? How the reality behind either entity revealed in the narrative?

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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