The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories 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. What do Michael and Delores first find they have in common?

2. After the accident, where does Ad Magic encounter the white horse?

3. In Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta, where is the protagonist going when she first meets Lenny?

4. What show does Robert and his hosts end up watching on television?

5. Where does the narrator, Cheryl and Edna spend the night when their car breaks down?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why does Delores kill her husband Michael in Scott Bradfield's story "The Darling"?

2. How does Connie's mother treat her?

3. In the story Cathedral, who is Robert and how does he enter the story?

4. Where are the soldiers stationed in The Things They Carried, and who are the main characters?

5. Where does Magic find the white horse, in what condition is the horse, and who does he call for help?

6. In the story Minor Heroism, who is Bryan, and what about him bothers his father?

7. What secret does the narrator of Lawns finally reveal to her boyfriend and her mother? How do they react?

8. In the story Dog Heaven, who is Sparky Smith and what game does he and the narrator play together?

9. How does Casey know Aunt Granny Lith, and what does he do when he sees her again?

10. In the story Wickedness, what happens in Nebraska on the twelfth of January, 1888? How does this affect the townspeople?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

In the story Dog Heaven, the author has created two children and a dog who live in a work of adults involved in the military. The narrator therefore focuses the story on the elements of childhood most recognized by people growing up. Discuss three of those elements and how they help the reader to relate to the story and to the narrator as a child.

Essay Topic 2

When Danica asks Mr. Muirhead, in the story Train, whether she and Jane will be friends forever, how does he respond? Why does he know these things about his daughter, and likewise know Danica is not like his daughter?

Essay Topic 3

In his Introduction, Tobias Wolff quotes Kafka as saying literature is like an axe with which to break "the frozen sea within us." What did Kafka mean by this? What two stories in the collection had this affect on you and why?

(see the answer keys)

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