The Things They Carried Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Tim O'Brien
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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 does Rat Kiley do first to the baby water buffalo?

2. What is a war story NOT about?

3. What did Lt. Cross keep under his tongue?

4. Which of the following is NOT a way the men resupplied the things they carried?

5. How did Tim protest the war?

Short Essay Questions

1. What was Martha's response to Jimmy's confession about wanting to hold her knee?

2. Explain how the rhyme "Step out of line, hit a mine; follow the dink, you're in the pink." changed meanings?

3. Explain why you think Dave Jensen is so upset someone stole from him.

4. Who was Elroy Berdahl and what is his significance to the narrator?

5. What is Henry's reaction to his girlfriend dumping him?

6. Why does the narrator he is a bad fit to be drafted into the war?

7. How does Curt Lemon recover from his personal failure at the dentist?

8. Why do the men like checkers?

9. What are Henry Dobbins' tentative plans for after the war?

10. Why is the story of Rat Kiley killing the baby water buffalo a "love" story?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

There are many places where the concepts of right and wrong are blurred in the pages of "The Things They Carried." Ideas of draft dodging, self-inflicted wounds, disrespecting the dead, and even theft are handled with lightness. What do you think the narrator/author is trying to say about the morality of war? Chose a couple of instances in the text where conventional morality is disregarded, and explain the purpose of this device to influence the reader.

Essay Topic 2

The concept of truth is challenged repeatedly in "The Things They Carried." Men tell embellished stories, exaggerate their own lives, and even the narrator casts doubt as to the honesty of the stories contained within the novel. What are your thoughts about the truth of "The Things They Carried" and why? Are there places you feel the accounting is accurate, and other places where the story has been stretched and skewed? What textual evidence leads you to these conclusions?

Essay Topic 3

Although the book is labeled "a work of fiction," it reads very similar to a memoir- a recollection of events and people from the author's past. Explain any indications that Tim O'Brien may not be a trustworthy narrator. Where in the text are there signs he is leaving something out, or passages where the reader should second-guess his account? Are there particular passages where a reader may be more likely to believe O'Brien's narrative? Use no less than three specific areas of text to evaluate Tim O'Brien as a reliable or unreliable narrator.

(see the answer keys)

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