Unless 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 American event are Tom and the girls presently fixated on as they watch the news?

2. What does Tom's friend, Colin Glass, try to explain to Norah when he comes over for dinner?

3. What prize did Reta's novel, "My Thyme is Up," win the previous year?

4. What present does Reta get for Norah's seventeenth birthday while on a book tour in D.C.?

5. Why does Norah enroll at the University of Toronto?

Short Essay Questions

1. What are some concerns Reta has in creating her fictional character Alicia, and how are they significant?

2. How does Reta respond to the death of Mr. Scribano and how is it significant?

3. During Norah's visit from university the previous year, Reta states that she knew how "wildly out control" Norah was, how "she'd become dangerous to her own being." Describe why Reta comes to this conclusion.

4. What does Reta do each month that indicates her attempt to live up to an idea of "goodness?"

5. How are Reta's feelings about sex related to her writing about Alicia and Roman?

6. Why does Reta initially think Norah's problems may have stemmed from her relationship with Ben Abbot?

7. When does Reta's mind begin to wander and what does she think of during dinner with Tom's physicist friend, Colin Glass?

8. Why does Reta view her trip to the library as a way of reconnecting with Norah?

9. What are Reta's feelings about Tom and their sexual relationship?

10. Describe Reta's peculiar behavior when she visits Norah in early November.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the plot and subplot of the novel, including the rising action, climax, and resolution for both.

Essay Topic 2

In the novel, marriage is portrayed as a complicated and sometimes fraught union between two people. How does Shields characterize Reta and Tom's marriage? Does she portray them as happily married? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the role of writing in the novel, responding to the following questions:

1. What is the function of Reta's writing in portraying her ideas about the world?

2. Do Reta's novels and letters serve the same purpose? Why or why not?

3. How does Danielle's writing compare with Reta's in terms of its significance?

(see the answer keys)

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