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. Who is Wolkowicz?

2. What does Paul give his girlfriend before heading to Asia?

3. Where does Paul plan to travel?

4. What does Kim say will open doors?

5. Who is Paul's contact in the administration?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Paul tell Ho he wants to know and why he wants to know it?

2. What does the letter from David say?

3. What does Foley really believe about Paul's theory about the connection between the JFK assassination and the Ngo family?

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

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

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

7. Describe Paul's case worker, Tom Webster.

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

9. What is the Truong toc and which Truong toc does Paul talk with and what transpires?

10. Describe the dinner conversation between Kim and Paul.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In Chapter 2, when Paul hears news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a Belgian priest provides the foil for him to admit his love of America and of JFK at the same. Discuss the following:

1. What is meant by a foil in literary terms? How do you think the Belgian priest serves as a foil at the end of chapter 2? Do you think this is an effective means of revealing these aspects of Paul's character? Why or why not?

2. Discuss Paul's feelings about the United States of America and about John F. Kennedy. How strongly do these feelings influence Paul's later actions? Do you think Paul would have investigated John Kennedy's assassination if he had been a Republican? Why or why not.

3. Trace and discuss the theme of patriotism throughout THE TEARS OF AUTUMN. Which characters seem most motivated by a love or their countries? Which seem to have no patriotism or loyalty to their country? Is patriotism always a noble motivation?

Essay Topic 2

In Chapter 4, Foley believes Paul is obsessed and questions David's objectivity. Foley is as wildly defensive of the dead JFK as he had been of the living, vibrant one he continues to imitate (he still wears the PT-109 tie clasp). Discuss the following:

1. Who seems most obsessed about Kennedy, both while Kennedy is alive and after his death? What is ironic about Foley thinking Paul is obsessed? Who seems to deal with JFK's death in a more healthy manner--Paul or Foley? Or is either grieving in a healthy way?

2. What do you think the PT-109 tie clasp epitomizes or is symbolic of? What happens when a person dies suddenly or while fairly young (relatively speaking) who is larger than life while alive? Can you think of some recent examples with which to compare the death of Kennedy? (hint: Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, etc.).

3. Paul chooses to put his life in danger in order to ferret out the truth behind JFK's assassination. Is this a cause worth risking one's own life and the lives of those one is close to?

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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