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. What is Acid Rain?

2. In the story Helping, what do both Elliot and Grace do for a living?

3. In The Things They Carried, how does Ted Lavendar die?

4. At dinner, how does Jane introduce herself and Danica to the couple at their table?

5. What person do both the narrator and her mother of Home think about simultaneously?

Short Essay Questions

1. What questions does Danica ask Jane's father near the end of the train trip, and how does he respond?

2. In the short story Train, who are the two little girls on the train, how old are they, and where are they going?

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

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

5. In Men Under Water, who is the narrator's wife, and how does she feel about him working for Gunther? What does the narrator do for a living?

6. How do the boys in Murderers get caught on their misadventure, and what happens to them?

7. In the story Helping, who are Elliot and Grace and what do they do for a living? How are their jobs similar and how are they different?

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

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

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

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 her short story, Tan describes "invisible strength." How does MeiMei interpret the concept of invisible strength? What does she accomplish using this concept? What other female in another story uses what could be called invisible strength and how is it similar to MeiMei's?

(see the answer keys)

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