The Tears of Autumn Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Charles McCarry
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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. With whom does Paul have dinner before his 10 PM flight?

2. What does Paul lack as he sets out to learn the truth of the assassination of JFK?

3. Who is Wolkowicz?

4. With what does Webster have difficulty?

5. What does Paul offer Kim?

Short Essay Questions

1. Briefly describe the discussion during the dinner with Christopher, the Websters, Foley and Peggy McKinney.

2. Describe the dinner conversation between Kim and Paul.

3. How do Paul and his Paul's ex-wife view Paul's talent at seeing mental images?

4. What is the key phrase that Kim speaks that makes Paul realize who may be responsible for JFK's death and what does Paul do after the realization?

5. Describe Paul's visit with the Ngo Truong toc.

6. What does Paul do in response to the letter from David?

7. What does Paul learn when he visits Wolkowicz' compound?

8. Give a brief description of Paul Christopher.

9. Whose corpse does Paul go to see and what is he told there?

10. Describe Paul Christopher's section chief, Barney Wolkowicz.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

There are a number of themes developed throughout the novel. Discuss one of the following:

1. Trace and analyze the theme of politics as presented in the novel. Include a discussion of the following questions: Which characters seem most involved in acting out of a concern for politics? Which ones seem to dismiss politics as a reason for actions? How does the political climate inform the main characters' actions? What do you think is the implied belief about politics in the novel? Use specific examples to develop your essay.

2. Trace and analyze the theme of power as presented in the novel. Include a discussion of the following questions: How would you define power as a concept developed in this novel? Do the powerful hold all the "chips"? How do those with less power manage to ignore or circumvent the restrictions/requirements placed upon them by those with greater power? Is power ever used for ethical goals in the novel? For unethical goals? Which characters wield the most power in The Tears of Autumn? Which characters have the least power? How does the amount of power each character wields affect their lives and their impact on the plot?

Essay Topic 2

In Chapter 1, when the group that includes Foley and Peggy McKinney learn of the deaths of the Ngo brothers, Peggy tries to lead a college cheer over their deaths. No one will join in, and Sybille Webster weeps over all of the corpses that politics creates. Undeterred, Peggy McKinney insists on a difference between petty Asiatic dictators and presidents of the greatest nation on earth. Discuss the following:

1. Sybille Webster might be considered the "conscience" of the novel. How do you think she serves as a moral barometer? Give specific examples. How do you think she lives with the fact that her husband is part of an organization that will do many illegal and immoral acts to promote a political goal?

2. Debate Peggy McKinney's belief that there is a difference between petty Asiatic dictators and presidents of the greatest nation on earth.

3. Do politics create corpses or do humans create corpses? Is there a difference? Discuss fully.

Essay Topic 3

THE TEARS OF AUTUMN takes place during an era quite dissimilar to the current political situation of the world, particularly that of the United States. An understanding of the political situation at the time of the setting will enhance the reading experience and understanding of the plot. Discuss one of the following:

1. Discuss the situation between the United States and Vietnam during the early 1960s. How does the political situation at that time inform the plot of The Tears of Autumn? How historically accurate are the facts about Vietnam in McCarry's book? Why do you think he takes some liberties with the history of the time? Could he have been absolutely historically accurate and used the same plot?

2. Compare/contrast the threats from the world situation as perceived during the early 1960s from threats from the world situation as perceived today? What major powers have shifted/changed? What are the types of threats then versus now? Which world situation seems more volatile--then or now? Would a book set in this time (first decade of the 21st century) be substantively different in tone, plot, etc...?

3. Discuss how you think the situation in Vietnam would have been if the Ngo brothers remained in power based upon what you read in THE TEARS OF AUTUMN. How would that have changed the history of relations between Vietnam and the United States?

(see the answer keys)

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