The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories Test | Final 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. In Murderers, who runs the camp to which the narrator goes in New Jersey?

2. What does the narrator of Men Under Water do for a living?

3. In The Things They Carried, what are some of things the soldiers carry for personal use?

4. In Departures, according to the young seminarian, for how long do Jesuits meditate each day?

5. Why is Grace angry with Elliot throughout the story?

Short Essay Questions

1. Who is Vopotik in the story Helping?

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

3. What does G.R. ask Cody after he hears Cody's story of his near accident off the mountain that day?

4. In Rules of the Game, what is Meimei's mother's "chang"?

5. In the story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, who is Arnold French, and how does he strike up a conversation with Connie?

6. In Cody's Story, who are Cody and G.R.? What do they do for a living and where?

7. Where is the priest going at the end of Departures, and where has he been? How is he traveling?

8. What are some of the superstitious things the soldiers carry with them, and what is the most unusual of them?

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

10. Who is the narrator of Lawns, and what is her crime?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the use of metaphors in the story Men Under Water. How do they reflect the relationship between the narrator and Gunther?

Essay Topic 2

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 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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