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 does Reta explain Norah's strange behavior to Christine and Natalie?

2. What two actual events do Reta's writer friends also discuss at the Orange Blossom Room?

3. In the few weeks prior to her disappearance, who does Ben think Norah might have a problem with that would account for her uncharacteristic behavior?

4. What constant preoccupation does Reta think is not a normal activity for anyone BUT writers?

5. What do the Winters do when they discover where Norah sleeps at night?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe Reta Winter's thoughts and feelings as the novel opens.

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

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

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

5. Describe the response of the Winters' family to seeing the hostel where Norah stays and its significance.

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

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

8. 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?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Healing, both physical and psychological, is significant to the characters' recovery in the novel. Identify the ways in which the Winters family heals from the stress and trauma over the past year.

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the tone of "Unless," responding to the following questions:

1. How does the tone of the novel exemplify the emotional state of the characters?

2. Does the tone shift or change throughout the novel? Where and how?

Essay Topic 3

As a novel, "Unless" functions as a mystery. As such, there are clues provided to lead the reader in many directions. What are some true and false leads surrounding Norah's disappearance? How does Shields utilize flashbacks and dialogue to create suspension in the novel?

(see the answer keys)

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