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. How are Reta and Danielle different?

2. What is delivered to the house that is emblematic of life going on in the Winters' household?

3. What does Norah accidentally find in the pocket of Christine's winter parka?

4. Why does Reta decide not to attend the funeral for the person at Scribano & Lawrence?

5. Who suddenly dies at Scribano & Lawrence?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. Why does Reta realize that she cannot create a perfect woman as a hero in her novel?

4. Why does Reta feel that normalcy is "monstrous?"

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

6. Why does Arthur love Alicia as a character and why is it significant?

7. What is Reta's complaint in her letter to the editor of a literary magazine regarding one of its advertising pages?

8. Why is Reta reluctant to give Arthur Springer a first draft of her novel, and what does it reveal about her writing?

9. Why does the memory of shopping for the perfect scarf for Norah haunt Reta as a "big female secret" and what does the scarf represent?

10. 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.

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, Reta has several flashbacks about Norah in the weeks before her disappearance. Choose three memories and discuss what they reveal about Reta, Norah, and the nature of their relationship.

Essay Topic 3

Shields uses the first-person point of view to show Reta's thoughts and actions, though the focus of the novel is the mystery of Norah's disappearance and subsequent homelessness. Respond to the following questions:

1. Why do you think Shields chose the first-person instead of third-person ("she")?

2. How would the novel be different if the story was told from Norah's point of view?

3. Since the first-person is a limited perspective, how would using an omniscient point of view change the tone or meaning of the novel?

(see the answer keys)

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