The Sixteen Pleasures Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Robert Hellenga
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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 has been discovered in the library?

2. Why does Margot almost miss the train as it is leaving a scheduled stop?

3. What does Margot remember about Señor Bruni?

4. What does Lucia bring with her to a convent when she joins?

5. What does Margot learn one day when she returns to the convent after one of her forays?

Short Essay Questions

1. How does Margot react to the book that the postulants keep over night, and what is Madre Badessa's reaction?

2. What does Margot discover about the book that the Abbess gives into Margot's care?

3. What does Margot's new living quarters remind her of and how does she change that?

4. Describe Margot's discussion of the library with Madre Badessa.

5. Where does Margot end up staying and what does she do on her first morning in Florence?

6. Describe the scene when the taxi gets a flat tire.

7. What do Margot and Madre Badessa discuss concerning the nuns' vows?

8. Discuss the significance of Señor Bruni in Margot's life as a teenager.

9. How is the monastery partially responsible for the possible damage to some of their frescoes?

10. What are Margot's impressions of Professor Eugene Chapin?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Margot learns about the inner workings of the convent and its vast land holdings as well as the politics of the church. Discuss the following:

1. Discuss the idea of a church holding great wealth. Do you think a church should have a great deal of wealth, or should it be spending everything to help people to have better lives? Why would a church hold on to its wealth rather than distributing it?

2. Discuss the paradox of the words, "In God We Trust" appearing on paper currency in the United States.

3. The Bishop, who has taken a vow of poverty, is quite concerned with controlling the assets of the convent. Who do you think should control the convent's assets? Do you think the Bishop has the convent's best interests at heart? Why or why not.


Essay Topic 2

Margot refers to the poem her mother had loved by Robert Frost entitled "The Road Not Taken." Margot realizes that there is no "other road." Her only life is the one that she is living now. Discuss the following:

1. Thoroughly analyze and give a reader response to Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken." Consider such things as imagery, metaphor, syntax, rhythm, and of course, meaning.

2. Take your analysis of "The Road Not Taken" and trace and analyze how it is relevant to The Sixteen Pleasures. What characters are most concerned with the road not taken? What character(s) have irretrievably lost something important by taking a different fork? What character(s) cannot recover from a poor choice made at various forks?

3. Discuss one or two of your own "roads not taken." Do you still regret taking one road versus another in a particular situation? Do you think it would be good to let go? Can you go back and travel the other road? What "difference" has the choice made for you?

Essay Topic 3

In Chapter 5, when Margot joins some nuns in the library, she, at first, thinks that they need a man with some strength to help take apart the bookshelves that have swelled. The nuns show her how to readjust her thinking to make the task manageable without a man. Discuss the following:

1. There is a proverb of unknown origin that reads, "necessity is the mother of invention." Relate this proverb to the situation in the library and in your own life.

2. It is generally accepted that most men have greater brute strength than most women (but not all by any means). How do you think this fact has impacted gender roles throughout the ages? Discuss thoroughly.

3. Margot, who loves men and finds them very attractive and likes their company, naturally thinks first of getting help from a male when a task needing strength arises. The nuns, on the other hand, who are restricted in their interaction with men, do not even thing in terms of having one come in to do the work that requires strength or courage. Men, on the other hand, tend to think of asking a woman for help when it comes to cooking or sewing or something that requires sensitivity. These statements are generalizations and there are many exceptions, but think of them in terms of general truths. Discuss the following question: How do these type of generalizations (men to women and women to men) tend to perpetuate gender polarization in various cultures. Is it healthy to perpetuate such ideas? Why or why not? Discuss in relation to The Sixteen Pleasures and in relation to your own culture and experiences.

(see the answer keys)

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