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. Why is Margot flying to Italy?

2. What do Margot and the abbess discuss concerning nuns?

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

4. What does Margot do while riding the train?

5. What does the bishop think the convent should not have?

Short Essay Questions

1. How does Margot respond to working at the convent?

2. What did Alessandro do on the day of the November 4th flood?

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

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

5. How is Margot spending time during the long plane and train rides?

6. What does Margot decide to do in Chapter 1 and who is against her doing so?

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

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

9. What is the significance of the cassette tapes when Margot's mother is dying?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The subject of marriage is woven throughout The Sixteen Pleasures. Discuss the following:

1. Discuss the idea of annulment versus divorce. Why would one seek an annulment rather than a divorce? Was divorce even legally possible in Italy in 1966? Is it possible in Italy now? What are the reasons one can receive a marriage annulment? What role does the Catholic Church play in why one would seek an annulment versus a divorce.

2. In The Sixteen Pleasures, Margot is 29 and has not been married and is sexually involved with three different men during the course of the book. Trace and analyze Margot's romantic relationships. Are they healthy? Why do you think she has not married? Do you believe she wants to be in a marriage some day? Being sexually involved before marriage during the 1960s was frowned upon much more than now. Do you think it bothers Margot that she openly violates social convention? What is the Italian attitude towards a woman who is sexually involved with a man she is not married to?

3. Trace and analyze Alessandro's attitude towards marriage. What do you think he believes about the institution of marriage? Why do you think he wants to be released from one marriage only to begin another one immediately? Does it seem to bother Alessandro that he is committing adultery? Do you think the Italian attitude towards men who commit adultery is different than towards women (particularly in the 1960s)? Explain.

Essay Topic 2

Margot is drawn to the nun's way of life, though she is not interested in actually becoming a nun. Discuss the following:

1. Research the cloistered lifestyle of the Catholic Church and write an informative essay about what you learn. Answer such questions as: How do the different orders vary? Why do women or men choice to become nuns or monks. Is this life choice as prevalent now as in the 1960s? What is the attitude in Italy in the 1960s towards convents and monasteries? Is it similar to that in the present-day United States? What are the benefits of a cloistered life? What does one not experience that others who are not monks or nuns might experience?

2. Compare/contrast Margot's religious beliefs and feelings to that of Sister Gemma. Compare/contrast Margot's religious beliefs/feelings to that of Madre Badessa. Compare/contrast Sister Gemma's religious beliefs/feelings to that of Madre Badessa. How are they alike in the way they see religion in their lives? How are they different? What are the reasons each find some edification out of their religious beliefs? Is Margot less spiritual than the nuns? How does Margot express her spirituality? How does that differ from the ways the nuns do?

3. Compare/contrast the life of nuns/monks in the Catholic church with the life of nuns/monks in another religion; for example, Buddhism. How is the life similar? Different? Is one more restrictive than the other? Which would you be most drawn to? Would you consider the cloistered life in any religious setting? Why or why not.

Essay Topic 3

Discuss one of the following:

1. Trace and analyze the theme of growth in The Sixteen Pleasures. Consider the following questions as you write: What characters are most concerned with growth? Why? What are some symbols of growth? Symbols of rigidity? What characters seem rigid? Which characters seem to learn and grow from their mistakes? Which do not?

2. Trace and analyze the theme of religion in The Sixteen Pleasures. Which characters embrace religion? Why do they? Which characters seem to have no interest in religion? Why? How influential is the Catholic church upon the behavior of the main characters? The minor characters? How important is religion in the plot? Why?

3. Trace and analyze the theme of art and artistic expression in The Sixteen Pleasures. What is Alessandro's view of art? Margot's? Madre Badessa's? The Monks? Margot's father? Why is art and artistic expression important to some characters? What does art contribute to the plot of The Sixteen Pleasures? How would the plot be affected without art?

(see the answer keys)

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