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. About whom does James dream about in Chapter 6?

2. Who is the inspiration for Tap's novel?

3. What country is David Keller going to be air-dropped into in Chapter 5?

4. What specific problem is Volterra having with his excursions in Chapter 6?

5. What scares Owen about religion?

Short Essay Questions

1. What offer does David Keller make James in Chapter 8, and how does James respond?

2. Describe the murder in Kouros.

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

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

5. Describe the political argument that James and Eliades have in Chapter 10.

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

7. What information does Andahl give about the cult in Chapter 9?

8. How does James follow up on his Mani discovery later in Chapter 8?

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

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

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

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?

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

In DeLillo's novel, objects and words take on symbolic value. Some of this becomes inchoate as a result of age and divine intent. Some of it is created in the mind of the observer. Write an essay discussing the significance of certain objects in the book. What individual is engrossed with this object, and what reasons does he or she give? What effect does this object have on characters? What divine significance does this object have in relation to other elements of the novel?

Part 1) The Acropolis

Part 2) The Cuneiform the archeologist hires a boy to read on a high precipice.

Part 3) The Ta Onomata boulder

(see the answer keys)

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