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. Why does Norah enroll at the University of Toronto?

2. Why does Natalie thank Reta on Christine's birthday in October?

3. What is the name of the university Norah is accepted to in 1998?

4. Who is Reta's mentor?

5. Why does Reta write a letter of complaint to an editor of a literary magazine about a series of books called "Great Minds of the Western Intellectual World"?

Short Essay Questions

1. How do Natalie and Christine attempt to give the impression that Norah's absence is part of a normal routine?

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

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

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

5. 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?

6. How does the American election results in Florida that Tom, Christine, and Natalie watch relate to Norah's absence?

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

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

9. Describe life in the Winters' household.

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Another major theme in the novel is the issue of homelessness and its consequences for the people affected by it.

1. Identify some preconceptions about homelessness that are disproved by the characters' actions.

2. What is Shields' overall message about people who are homeless?

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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