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 kind of world is Reta interested in creating for her characters?

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

3. What is the name of Reta's friend, a medical journalist who lives in Newfoundland?

4. 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?

5. Why does Reta cry as she writes the check for the hostel each month?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

4. 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.

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

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

7. Why does Norah make the sarcastic observation in her letter to Alexander Valkner that he must have suffered from extreme fatigue when he thought of his list of "literary big cats"?

8. What attempt does Reta make to bribe her daughter Norah to come home when she visits her on her street corner and how successful is she?

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

10. What does Reta's husband Tom do for a living and how is it significant concerning Norah's absence?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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